I have been lucky to access some great research material. Now it’s a matter of seamlessly blending the gems discovered within the storyline.
Current Weather and Tides
In this my fourth novel. The protagonist is currently on the back of a horse plodding along behind a mob of cattle – droving in Western Queensland. This is in the early twentieth century.
Have you ever sat and considered what this might entail for a Stockman/Ringer/Drover – herding a large number of cattle or sheep for days on end – months on end – in some cases, even years on end?
Straining the air, you breathe, through clouds of dust, day in and day out.
Working and sleeping in the one set of clothes for days/weeks/months on end until you may get an opportunity to wash them in clean water unmuddied by thirsty cattle.
Short naps of sleep between taking one’s turn at the two-hour night-watch (may even be twice or more in the one night) every night. When the pillow in your swag is your kitbag holding one set of spare clothes and a book or maybe leather-making tools. When this pillow with its bumps and corners ceases to feel uncomfortable but a soft cushion of feathers waiting to cradle a very weary body.
And the rainy days. The days when a fire is nigh impossible to light. There will be no hot tea to drink – stewed or not. Or the salt beef can’t be cooked and ditto for the fresh damper. Even a stale damper is a slim hope – the dried leftovers will have been devoured overnight by the night-watch riders needing something to chew upon to stay awake.
There is no romance in a Drover’s life. Yet, even though they may bitch and whinge, few would want to give it up.
Keep safe, Keep smiling, Keep reading, Keep writing.
A Pearl for your Enjoyment
Recent homework criteria: Write a scene where an item from your household may suggest a story plot.
The prattle of the television advertisement sank into the subconscious of her mind along with the rattle of dishes and mumble of her guests’ voices coming from the kitchen. Beryl Gordon’s finger circled the polished timber of the photo frame she had removed from the side-board. The brown-eyed mischievous grin of her then thirteen-year-old son laughed up at her. The small kayak in the photo had since been replaced twice as Eric had outgrown the accessory of his favourite sport. Suddenly the voice on the television caught her attention.
“… storms have persisted in the Dragon Head Ranges, the headwaters of Flaming Tongue Gorge, popular white water rafting and camping sites …”
“Bev,” Beryl’s voice scraped past her dry throat. She coughed and swallowed and called a little louder. “Bev! Girls! Come here!”
Three heads appeared at the doorway. Each held a wet dinner plate in one hand and an even wetter tea-towel in the other.
“What’s wrong, Ma?” Bev and Lianne replied in unison while Hayley stood a step behind them.
“Did you hear the weather report? They’re talking of storms up at Dragon Head Ranges.”
The younger women, all around the forty-year-old mark, moved into the lounge room and towards the television.
“You’re too late now. The weather report’s finished. Should we contact the police to send the boys a warning? The gorge is not a safe place when filled with floodwaters.” Anxiety filled every line on Beryl’s face like bulldust in road corrugations. “We have to let the boys know somehow.”
“It’s alright, Ma, I’ll try them on the phone.” Lianne dragged her mobile from the back pocket of her jeans. Her pink-nailed finger stroked the screen. A frown burrowed across her forehead. “They must be out of signal.”
Bev, her sister Lianne, and sister-in-law Hayley eased themselves back into the kitchen to discuss their options without adding to Beryl’s anxiety. What should they do to let their husbands know of the danger?
Eric Gordon felt every muscle along his back complain as he dragged his Mirage 530 single kayak with its double-blade paddle up onto the bank. His brothers-in-law, Doug and Vance, seemed in no better condition as they hauled the two-man, fiberglass Canadian canoe, loaded with most of their camping gear and the two single-bladed oars, up onto the grass.
“I’m going to chase up some wood and start a fire,” Vance called as he headed towards the perimeter of the trees under the cliff face. Doug and Eric separated the bedding from the cooking items. They cleared an area for their fire, leaving several blackened rocks as a demarcation line.
While Vance sweet-talked the fire, Eric tried the mobile phone. “I’ll just give the girls a call and let them know we’ve made our first camp safely.”
“You’d better do that or your mother will tear a strip off us all when we return.”
“Damn.” Eric wandered around the campsite climbing onto several large boulders along the creek edge. “No signal on this thing. I’ll get the satellite phone out.”
With his gaze glued to the cumbersome phone and its antennae he once more made the rounds searching for a signal. “Damn.” He turned to Doug who was in the process of placing the water billy on the fireplace. “Not a bloody signal. It must be that rocky outcrop near the cliffs. If we’d stopped at the Green Scale Camp Site as we usually do, we’d have a signal for sure.”
Doug lifted his head with a laugh. “As I remember, it was you who challenged us to a race and sped on past The Scale camp.”
“Look, fellas, let’s not sweat it. The girls’ll miss us more if they don’t hear from us for a night or two. Absence makes the heart grow fonder – and all that.” Vance poured some whiskey into the three pannikins wobbling on the grass. Come and have something to warm us up with before we eat.
With a laugh, Doug walked over and selected a pannikin. “Yeah, it’s alright for you two but if I know Bev, she has a tongue like her mother and Beryl herself will have plenty to say if we don’t contact them.”
“Well, we can’t right now. Maybe later in the night, I’ll get a signal.” Eric chose his pannikin. “I’d just feel happier knowing we had a signal.” He sipped his drink while staring into the fast current of water racing past their camp. “Do you think that water has risen since we arrived?”
“Nah. Now, don’t be an old worrywart. Drink that up and here’s a refill.” Vance’s arm reached out holding the bottle.
TO BE CONTINUED