The house was hardly that at all; indeed it was tiny and crowded, and alive.
The kitchen, warmed by a wood stove that heated the water and the kettle; was small.. and clean, with a back door to everywhere.
It was where everything happened. Everybody was there, and wasn’t there; coming and going, bartering their time with leaving and coming back.
It was place of lively laughter and argument. With a Mother and Father larger than life.The kitchen was always Mother and Father and then the Others.
The Others were siblings in truth,but we were just friends doing lots of caring little. All using the kitchen for a purpose. All traversing it’s facilities, and all falling into the mire of warmth it offered.
Off the kitchen was the bathroom.
We knew it as the dairy because that is what really happened there.
Keeping clean was not important, getting cream and butter was.
Churning the butter was for the Others. It took strength and tall, something that was only a quality of the Others and not yet available.
You stepped down to the dairy, and this was exciting.
Down two steps.
You always knew you were going somewhere when you went to the dairy.
It felt quiet and sacred, and smelled musty and sweet; like a cave.
We bathed there, one after the other. Because it was important.
Sometimes two at once, but always in order of age. Others first, and always with the same bath water.
It felt supremely refreshing to get a kettle of hot water, poured into the bath, courtesy of the hot stove.
As the youngest, it was a privilege from time to time, to get first bath.
This depended on the injuries of the day and how much important work was got through by small Others staying clear of the back paddock enterprise area.
Small Others were allowed in the back paddock, it was part of Everywhere; but the creek was out of bounds. That was for later.
The back door of the kitchen that led to everywhere, was a fly wire door.
Made from lightweight timber, it was resilient to the point that it could have been iron.
It withstood the comings and goings, the wind, all kinds of insects including dive-bomber mozzies.
More importantly, it separated us from Everywhere when we needed it.
Through the back door to everywhere, was the laundry.
But more interesting and of far more significance, the path around the laundry where 3-wheelers could throttle up.
The laundry was a mysterious place. Mother knew it well and created lots of interest for the Others while moving clothes from one tub to another, much better tub. The Others understood this mysterious world.
Throttling-up the path for the first time, past the laundry and the hollyhocks, around the lavender bushes and their bees.
This was a new world.
One that wasn’t there before.
A whole new sense of place.
Where was it before? Where did it come from?
Hollyhocks always bothered pathways.
Tall people with flowers all over them.
The really tall people were the sunflowers.
Sunflowers never seemed unhappy, but sometimes they just turned away after dinner.
Lavender bushes with their bees always caused concern, and had to be talked to so they kept out of the way of important 3-wheel exploration.
The kitchen had another door.
Passed the green and cream stove with the kettle. This door led to the rest of the house.
Just the bedrooms. There was no lounge room, that was the kitchen.
There was three bedrooms.
One on the left and two on the right- smaller ones.
Mother and Father occupied the big room with a small Other.
Three Others slept in the front bedroom, and two small Others in the small bedroom.
In the bedroom with the big Others, was an earthen floor. Just earth packed down hard and smooth.
It had the smell that was in the dairy.
With a wet finger, you could paint one of the Others.
Playing trucks with the biggest loader in the world was best played in this room.
It was the best room in the go to sleep part of the house.
In the big bedroom where Mother and Father slept with the small Other, was a boarded floor.
We were not to go into this room because it was important.
Mother and Father must have realised that the snake and the very thin crocodile that lived in the hole of the floorboard, could be dangerous to Others.
Between the bedrooms was a hallway that led to the front door.
The front door led to nowhere and both big and small Others were often told to find it.
Being told to go “nowhere near the front door” proved to be a trick because there was only a small veranda and a gate to the outside road.
Rambling on the thought of another Christmas here already. Enjoy everyone.
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