Let’s live where the indoors and the outdoors meet ~ Silver Jews, Like Like the the the Death
This is the part where my love affair with Mud is put to the test…
A post was meant to surface here on TGTW four days ago, one I’d written before bailing for Moreton Island on Monday and arranging to publish in my absence via the magic of Schedule.
Let me explain with an extract from “The Post That Never Was”:
Thanks to the miracle of the Schedule button on my blog dashboard, you should be reading this on Wednesday my time while I am trudging in a very sensible clockwise direction, far from any wifi signal or power outlet, round the world’s third-largest sand island:
Well, the Schedule function at WordPress has one potentially negative characteristic: It doesn’t always work. (Just Google and see). As I now know.
There I was over there in my sandy paradise, two days after setting out — clockwise, exactly according to plan — thinking with no little satisfaction, “Yup, she oughtta be publishin’ right ’bout now. Where’s me pipe and flask? Time fer a little celebration.”
(I always talk like a Zeke or an Ebenezer in the wilds.)
And increasingly look like one as well:
I went on to explain, before jumping to the riveting conclusion of my Mangrove Odyssey…
I need a dose of Moreton right now; these are not the best of times for me. I’ll spare you the details, but I’m a little nervous about being stuck in my head for three and a half days. Once the adventure kicks in, though, and I realise how fortunate and free I am again, Walker Mode should take over and the endorphins will douse some of the pain.
This will be my fourth 60-mile circuit of Moreton via the beaches (hope I didn’t just jinx myself there); my first time was clockwise, then I did two the other way and found I preferred it, but I’m going clockwise again for the purpose of perambulatory symmetry. Cowboy- or tarp-camping, and taking all the pictures battery life permits…
Well, it was a wonderful trip, despite moments each day of terrible pain and self-knowledge, and the camera batteries permitted, with judicious rationing, over 1,000 images, which I’ve whittled down to 500 so far.
But Wednesday night saw my second batch of rain — luckily my tarp was set immaculately, and I woke dry, but to a day looking increasingly dark and wet.
Over my last five or six miles I drank up my final gulps of wild beauty — and considerable amounts of rainwater, making photography precarious:
By the time I reached the boat, it was bucketing down.
“Mate, you’re getting off just in time,” said the friendly guy manning the ferry shop. “A low-pressure system’s moving in, 200ml of rain coming between here and New South Wales.”
I didn’t worry about it as I sat there dripping onto the carpet all the way across the Bay while the weather closed in over the boat and the island quickly vanished to the rear. Didn’t worry in the cab, or on the 90-minute train ride home, dripping all the way, everything I had damp — including, worryingly, the cameras.
The cameras survived. He was wrong about the volume, though. Thursday night at home was fine but the rain on the mainland started in earnest the following day.
My father recorded over 300ml on Friday. That evening I was sitting on my crappy couch downstairs, readying for a Clint Eastwood movie, when I saw something move near my feet.
I flinched, thinking it was a spider — but it was water. A puddle of coffee-coloured water snaking past at alarming speed. At last it registered as a threat, I stood there flapping my arms and spinning around, open-mouthed, for a few seconds, before running upstairs to warn the folks.
“There’s water coming in down there!”
We live near the end of a dead-end street with Cabbage Tree Creek hooking around on both sides. It’s crept over the road and into the yard from both sides on rare occasions — but usually on extremely high (“king”) tides.
The high tides lately have been moderate, and high wasn’t for a couple of hours. But the rain delivered by this rare super-storm was so heavy, with the bulk of it pummelling down in a short burst to the emphatic accompaniment of very close lightning strikes and apocalyptic thunder (though little wind), that after quickly topping the creek, it decided to head cross-country in search of the elusive lower ground.
To get there, it had to pass through my apartment:
It was surging in via three or four doors and rapidly rising to knee height. My parents and I ran around trying to save things, but the water outside was soon washing anything unsecured into the back yard and then the creek as it swept across the road and raced back into itself near the backyard jetty.
I was briefly frozen with fear of electrocution before getting all the electronics out of harm’s way…
..and then hurling whatever was down low onto higher ground, inside the apartment and out.
We lost a lot of small stuff outside: potted plants, footwear, anything loose, and there were some harrowing scenes as Dad moved his truck through water lapping at the doors to a drier spot down the road. Their 20-year-old back-up workhorse was stranded here and paid the price.
And there was Dad’s shed, with countless expensive tools within. The water blew a fuse, the roller doors were looked tight, but not tight enough. Meanwhile, we knew the tide would continue rising for another hour or more…
We waded down the road through a surreal waist-deep torrent, passing shell-shocked neighbours in the new river, to my sister’s place, collected my nephew, got him back here, and Dad broke a window, lifted him in, and Joel got the door open — too late sadly, for a lot of expensive stuff that was down too low.
High tide came and went, the flood level stabilised. Well, it was a shitty night; I slept upstairs where things were dry and un-muddied. We knew yesterday, Saturday, would be tough.
On the road, which smelled somewhat muddy, neighbours’ cars were sodden and splayed, doors and hoods open. Piles of newly discardable household items were piled along the footpath. Residents swapped tales of mud, local history and Olympian mopping.
The clean-up in my place seemed impossible, and involved much hosing:
With some help from my uncle, we ripped up all my carpet (never liked it anyway) and got the bed out:
Outside: not pretty. But the sun was shining.
Soon a vast collection of brown-stained, sodden household items spread across the concrete. Sadly a bunch of expensively framed posters I’d forgotten were on the cupboard floor were to join it:
The 20-year-old Bluebird still goes but there’s a vast aquifer of foul rainwater beneath the flooring. We spent ages trying to soak it up with sponges but finally Dad decided life was too short and we left it to the sun:
The scenes in the shed were not nice. Lots of expensive tools damaged or worse:
It was grim, but in a weird way it was kinda therapeutic, and good honest work, and something new, and nice to work on something with my parents and have time to talk (plus some excellent food).
The mud-slopping, hosing, drying, sweeping etc continued all day today. We had some company for lunch on the verandah…
There’s still a fair bit of work ahead. I’ve lost or had damaged my crappy old couch, bedroom carpet, perhaps a rug, one of my good shoes, both Crocs (the hiker’s friends), several blinds, a few cupboard doors, many framed artworks, some plants, my grandparents’ old silky-oak cabinet.
My parents’ losses were more substantial — their pool, for example, is now positively Amazonian (see also the header shot)…
..and the pumps for it and the rainwater tanks were submerged and exterminated.
Some of those expensive tools the waters killed were borrowed from friends or family. But a lot of people in S.E. Queensland were hit worse, five died, and events in Nepal put things in some perspective.
Out the back, the creek is still a murky brown torrent, littered with debris:
It’s out there now — I can feel its power tonight, its couch-consuming, possession-fouling menace, as it seethes, waiting…
..till the time is right for its next act of cold-hearted bastardry…
End of the mangrove story next post, and then some cool Moreton stuff!
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote