It’s a while since I added to my blog, not since we learned we had to shift from our rental house and the ensuing saga of packing, finding somewhere else to live, and finally moving. I plan to write about and enter photos of all that but meanwhile I am going back to the earlier time soon after we moved down to sw Victoria.
Linlithgow, lovely lake, well once it was,
it’s promise partly drew us here,
to this place closer to needy son in Adelaide
yet not too far from Melbourne
and much of the rest of the family,
quite close to wonderful beaches
but very close to a lake to picnic by and swim in.
Properties were cheap, the main concern.
Simple enough needs but our world collapsed.
The little old house under a volcano turned into a money pit,
thanks especially to Scottish builder met in Wonthaggi,
and my too spontaneous decision making.
The house is less livable now than when bought,
the local builder who would fix it
waits while we try in vain to borrow money
to refinance house with little equity.
Despite the lure of a precious new grandson
Adelaide and Melbourne are further away than ever
because of high petrol prices
and my newly developed panic and agoraphobia,
from the stress of all of this and an accident
in which a truck wrote off our trusty Volvo.
Even Lake Linlithgow, large blue spot on the map,
looking as big as Lake Bolac, turned out to be a myth .
We drove there first on a warm day
though not planning to swim.
The deserted track wound past round tank
and four posted shelter built of stone
both looking like Roman ruins.
A large map showed the directions boats should take
different regulations for speed boats and slower craft,
overseen by the Marine Authority.
At the bottom of a gentle slope a flat grassy plain
stretched towards the encircling Gariwerd Mountains.
Wind sighed in a band of giant cypresses,
a sound taking me back to my old house in Belgrave,
so a peaceful evocative place for sure
with birds flying, darting and swooping happily,
Margaret told us there was some water in it a few years ago
after weeks of heavy rain.
My daughter swam there with a friend when holidaying nearby
not too many years ago.
Helen, now seventy, remembers school swimming sports there.
Pene remembers regattas where small yachts raced each other,
Picnic baskets were placed on tables on mown lawns
in the shade of the cypress trees or striped umbrellas,
bright cloths unfolded to reveal home baked treats,
to be washed down by homemade lemonade.
Young women wearing flared skirts, pretty blouses, white sandals
peeped out coquettishly from under floppy straw hats
hoping to impress young men in sport shirts and roman sandals.
Tourist maps still feature the lake as a venue for water sports,
A signpost from the highway points towards it,
but locals don’t mention it, almost as if there is a guilty secret.
Have farmers siphoned off the water thus helping the drought
in its insidious work?
Three or four months ago after heavy rain
‘The Spectator’ had a photo of the water filled lake on page two.
We drove there and sure enough there were large patches of blue water.
Last weekend there were heavy downpours,
driving to Hamilton was like driving through a lakes district.
Lake Linlithgow’s surface was covered in water,
although not up to the map nor the old picnic tables once near the shore,
At the bottom of the slope on a still dry grassy area
sixteen black tailed native hens scurried busily,
wagtails, kestrels, magpies, singing bush larks and goldfinches
went about their singing and other varied business,
yellow tailed black cockatoos flew close to the old cypresses
through which the strong wind sighed and sang loudly.
We’ll go again but the lake might be gone.
At least there is a lake in Hamilton, not showing on many maps,
large man made lake constantly replenished by water
from the bubbling Grange Burn.
There are happy kayakers and water skiers sometimes,
an occasional swimmer, but it’s mostly quiet and peaceful.
There are many water birds, ducks, swans, seagulls, coots
moorhens, pelicans, with graceful sacred egrets on the shore while
wattle birds, honey eaters and wagtails hover in the native vegetation.
Lovely lake bisecting gracious city with skyline of churches,
sometimes we get less than we expect, sometimes more.