Earlier today Mrs Widdershins, the Widdershins cat and I, were hanging out in our back yard in the sunshine, and watching the antics of the bluejays and robins. The warmer weather had prompted a nest of carpenter ants (Mrs Widdershins thinks) to swarm. They’d hatched a bunch of flying queens who were going about their business of flying and being queens. The birds were having a field day. All that protein on the wing.
All in all an aerial ballet that was a joy to behold. Although, I’m guessing the ant queens weren’t too pleased about being the main course.
… And now we return you to our regular broadcast.
This is the paragraph in question:
“It was only after a solid year of instruction that my teacher let me venture forth on my own and would not/did not attempt to rescue me. I made it back intact, but it was the scariest thing I’ve done in my life. Scarier even than hanging on by a single hand and foot grip to the side of a cliff-face while a flash-flood created waterfall burst over my head. What? Haven’t I told you that story before? Well … perhaps another time.”
So … In order for me to tell this story we have to travel to the other side of the planet, dip down into another hemisphere, and do a little time travelling … to Australia – specifically the East coast - about 20 years ago.
If you drive west from Sydney for about 2 hours you’ll reach the heart of the Blue Mountains. I grew up in the eastern shadow of these mountains and vowed that one day I would live on the highest peak I could find … and I did. It wasn’t all that high compared to the mountains I have in my back yard these days, but as with all things it’s a matter of perspective.
It was a rather magical time in my life when, by inclination and finances, I was living by myself … with three cats and a puppy who thought she was a cat.
In a bygone era, in the first decades of the beginning of the 20th Century, gentlefolk would motor up from Sydney and the surrounding lowlands to escape the brutal heat of Summer.
The area was also renowned for its healing waters, and many a struggling author or consumptive heiress would take the ‘cure’ offered at the palatial hotels that perched on the edge of Megalong Valley.
Walking trails were hewn into the steep valleys and for a time it was possible for those gentlefolk to walk from Mt Victoria (where I lived) to Blackheath, to Katoomba without ever descending to the valley floor or resorting to the roads on the plateau above.
Over time most of these trails fell into disuse, and the ancient mountain range reclaimed her own.