What I was wearing when I wrote this First Word.  Potentially.

What I was wearing when I wrote this First Word. Potentially.

When it’s intense it howls, truly howls, as if it’s angry with me, or with this house, or with this town, or with this whole damn country.

Across the paddocks it comes and up over the ridge and, so it feels, rushes headlong down into my humble little yard, pushing the climbing rose into the windows, flattening the wattles, sending buckets flying.  The wind, it’s true, has decapitated fully grown shrubs.  When it’s properly bellowing, so much so that the dog takes herself off to the safe harbour of the en-suite, there’s nothing for me to do than hide under a blanket on the couch and get lost in a novel.

Goulburn is famous for its winds; this is why we’re surrounded by wind-turbines.  It’s good clean energy and it’s what we need if we’re going to be able to keep living on this planet.  But on the couch I don’t think about these pragmatic things, this frustratingly political situation.  I just let the wind rant and rave as I read.

Some days, when it’s literally blowing a gale, I put the book down and set my imagination free.  I could live in a lighthouse and my job would be nothing more complicated than getting the light going each night (perhaps a simple flick of a switch does it) and help keep boats and ships out of harm’s way.  I’d like to be that: a keeper of light – what a business card that would make.

But my imagination doesn’t stop there, not when there’s a novel close at hand.

As the wind batters me and my house around the ears, I could be on of those boats or ships, a sailor, a lone sailor exploring the seas and the oceans and be out there amongst it all.  Or I could be a sailor of the wind; I could run some kind of air-ship and discover worlds beyond my wildest dreams.  Oh I could be a pirate of the sky!  An eccentric, a madman, shouting and calling as I travel here and there on the thinnest of whims.  Yes, that would be me, riding the wind, sails full and powerful.

Until the calm comes, as it always does, and I’d sleep in the quiet, so quiet it would be.  And in this sleepy silence I’d know that I was living a good life, because it’d be one of almost unimaginable adventure.

(First published in Panorama, The Canberra Times, 14 September 2013.)