As my plans to move to Canberra began to take hold, Mum and Dad mentioned that they would come up to visit me sometime around the halfway point in my contract. By the time I actually left, that had shortened to be within a month of my move. As fate would have it, that arrival got pushed out by a few weeks because since entering semi-retirement from farming, they’ve both managed to establish a bit of a hectic social life.
After a couple of days meandering through Victoria and central New South Wales, they arrived in Canberra last Wednesday, and whilst I didn’t take the time off work to spend the remainder of the week with them (a thought that regretfully didn’t occur to me until they’d arrived), they made the most of their visit and went to a number of places they hadn’t been to for a long time, as well as revisiting a few others that had been radically altered since bushfires swept over the ranges to the west, and scorched the outer rim of the city in 2003.
Early this morning (like, 6am), we got up and did the walk up Mount Ainslie. In the scrubby bush behind the war memorial, we were deep amid a large family of Eastern Grey Kangaroos before we even noticed they were there. They paid little attention to us (though didn’t stop watching us), and it was evident that as attentive to the surrounds as we were, we were still a long way removed from the natural world.
The sun rose with us as we climbed to the summit, thankfully in the shadow of the hill, and the air was crisp and clear as the dawn spread out across the city. The collision of cold air with the water of the lake drew a dense, though highly localised fog from the water, and from behind the mist, several hot air balloons rose gently from the parks surrounding the parliamentary zone of the city. Numerous joggers passed us red faced on their way down, several looking like it was all they could do to control their descent. Once at the summit ourselves, we played the tourist standard of identifying the distant landmarks, including water reservoirs, towns, and in this region, reclusive government installations.
All too soon, we were back in the town and saying goodbye. It had felt like it took no time at all for them to arrive, then just as quickly they were leaving again. The countdown to their arrival and the sighting of a familiar face had helped distract me from the indisputable fact that I am, for the most part, alone here. Since my parents left, all I’ve been able to think of is going home to see friends and family, and despite what this job will enable me to do, the temptation to chuck it in and go back to Melbourne (or even Warrnambool) is overwhelming.