Living alone in the bush is an ‘elastic’ sort of experience. You can run but you cannot hide — from yourself, that is. My upstairs bed, well protected from the ferocious mosquitoes by a sturdy Maningrida net, was a place of comfort and security.
And after months of tinkering with tarps and bamboo screens, I could stay dry even in a fierce tropical rainstorm.
I could relish the comfort of storms.
It was like living on a small boat.
By far the best part was waking to the sound of rain, knowing that all was shipshape, and then rushing outside to make a few last-minute modifications before retreating to my cosy nest high in the treetops.
Deep Creek, 14 April 1992
Anticipating storms, I worked through January and February to make my house totally waterproof. I tied bamboo blinds or tarps on all exposed sides. And I am getting quite adept at reading the sky and knowing when to bring in my chairs before the storm hits. Often I am awakened by hesitant rain tinkering on the tin roof. I love the sound, the soft cadence of first drops on leaves, then splashing on creek surface, my washing bucket, and finally bold clatter on the tin roof and the sheet of iron covering my fireplace. I feel comforted by the rain, cosy in the deep bosom of the raining forest. I cuddle under my quilt for one extra moment, savouring it all.
Then I climb from under my net, carefully tuck it in, untie and let down the two bamboo blinds upstairs and tighten the tarp. I grab my torch and run downstairs to protect the kitchen. I race out, barefoot and naked, sliding and slipping, into the darkness, mud and bucketing rain, to untie the three downstairs blinds, fitted outside to protect the kitchen’s earth floor. By the time I’ve finished, I’m soaked and muddy. Often I sing; sometimes I dance in the rain. Or sit in the darkness in my creek for a while if it’s not too cold.
I wash my feet in the bucket by the stairs, dry myself off, slip my feet into my sandals and make a cup of tea to take to bed.
Under my net, with a cloud of mozzies spinning and whining against the green mesh, I sit, sipping my tea and listen to the rain.
It’s very comforting.