Moving On

16 Dec

I’m writing this in my favourite spot, a marble topped table on the back verandah, with a view of the long, broad sweep of river towards the Oxley reach. We’re in a lull while hired packers wrap and stuff boxes with our accumulated posessions of 33 years. We’ve moved house as a couple and family nine times, taking in five different countries, so this makes move number ten.

We emptied the house in a frantic rush last January when the Brisbane River flooded (photo taken at the top of the flood shows our house in the river rather than beside it) but with both of us working full time we couldn’t muster the energy to do a proper cull and it mostly went straight back where it came from. This time we sorted and pre-packed as much as possible to limit the amount going into storage for the next year as we roam around Europe and to reduce the workload later when we settle on where we want to live.

Many of the decisions about what stays and what goes were made jointly and few were contentious but the ones that stopped me in my tracks concerned surprisingly small things. A celadon bowl filled with fragments of broken ceramics, shells, stones and coral. Each item collected on holidays, beach walks or the remnants of a treasured gift. Boxes and boxes of photo albums (‘Too many!’ says my husband) and lots of framed family photos. I keep telling myself I can take a digital photo as a memento, I don’t need the actual thing, but I still cry. Why? They were happy times. This is a happy time. I chose it willingly, it didn’t choose me.

Leaving the house itself is something I adjusted to, painfully but pragmatically, when we made the decision to downsize nearly two years ago. Sixteen years ago we moved into our Brisbane dream home – a rambling five bedroom Queenslander whose bones go back to 1934. As a second generation river rat who grew up at 39 Brisbane Corso, just downstream a couple of kilometres, I was thrilled our two sons would have the same opportunity to mess about on the river. My happiest childhood memories involve river mud and mulberries. The boys became rowers and later Tristan launched the Brisbane River Float, an annual drinking party where participants find any inflatable object to set off from our pontoon and convey them with the prevailing tide many kilometres downstream.

The extra deep swimming pool was a great attraction too but it’s just as well it was only years later I learnt that one popular party game when my husband and I were away from home involved kids leaping into the pool from the verandah ten metres above. As bad as that is it was topped by the true story of the tradesman who jumped into the pool from the roof one day when he wanted to take a dip.

Cameron taught himself guitar and drums in his downstairs bedroom and rehearsed with his band. Our ever tolerant neighbours never complained about the racket. The family pet, Nimbin, the happiest Jack Russell Terrier that ever wagged a tail, is buried beneath the huge Jacaranda tree which is also home to a Frogmouth Owl.

Bits have been added and upgraded but at its heart number 19 is still a worker’s cottage with a big sweep of lawn out front and the glassy, caramel coloured Brisbane River out back. I’m pleased the house has been bought by a young family with four children as the old girl has had a reprieve from development for a little longer. We were only the third family to live on the property, which at one time was owned by a fisherman and doubled as a tea room where boaters would pull up at the jetty to take cream teas. As Ivy Street has been gentrified over the years ours is the sole remaining original house. The passion for oversized MacMansions has hit the neighbourhood hard and I avert my eyes from some of the worst examples when I drive down the street.

There’ll be one last rowdy family and friends party tomorrow night to rattle the timbers and make the rooms ring with music and laughter. Then I will be ready to move on.

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3 Responses to “Moving On”

  1. Charles December 22, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Both you and the house look a million dollars. Can’t say the same about the mud clearer!!
    Have a great Christmas and look forward to seeing you in Europe in 2012

    Charles

    • Sharon Tickle December 23, 2011 at 2:42 am #

      Thanks Charles! Not long now until we blast off again.Enjoy the festive season and hope for some snow for us or Tris will be hiking instead of snowboarding.

  2. Simone Pope January 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Sharon! I’m catching up on so so many things, including emails! Thanks for this lovely post. I missed your party, but really enjoyed reading about the house, seeing the pics and video. Not sure if you’ve left yet? If I don’t see you before you leave, have a fabulous time! I won’t get to Spain in first half of year, but Murray is hoping to get to Switz. I hear it’s already a good season. look forward to you next post! lots of love, Sim xxx

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