Dear friends and family—Can you see the bird above? It’s a Scaly-breasted Lorikeet nicely camouflaged.
For us in Canberra, 2020 started with our whole city hard to see for sadder reasons—it was cloaked in smoke. This is the panoramic view from Mt Ainslie of mountains, lake and tree-lined streets. It became a metaphor for 2020. We did not see what was coming. As the fires and the heat abated, hail, flooding and COVID-19 followed. Geoff’s refrain became, ‘I have never seen anything like this before!’
As the smoke cleared, we started walking in the local bush again and saw something new and delightful. This Regent Honeyeater, an endangered species, posed for us very cooperatively, face-on and in profile, not far from home. It used to be a very common bird in colonial days. No more.
In early March, house-sitter friends were looking for a place to stay as they’d had a fortnight’s booking cancelled at short notice. We grabbed the opportunity to relocate to our caravan near Bungendore.
Suddenly, Australia was locked down. Our friends in our house had nowhere on the chess board to move to as a whole series of their bookings collapsed. We agreed that the best thing to do was for all of us to stay put. Chris got on with completing her book (more about that later) and made forays to supermarkets. It turned out to be a good way for Geoff to self-isolate except for visits to the dentist for root canal therapy before the clinic closed. We Zoomed to church and on Maundy Thursday we followed a liturgy, caravan-style, for an agape meal.
Our local Anglican parish sought ways to adapt and respond to the times. The pews were removed to liberate a more flexible space. The Tuckerbox food-bank ministry found ways to continue as new blood stepped in to cover for house-bound older volunteers. There was even a COVID-19-safe ‘sustainability festival’ to remind the community of the abiding need to care for our planet and its climate. The Church of Christ’s op-shop reopened as soon as it could, much to the delight of many.
By autumn, the rain arrived with La Niña. Celebration! The parched dams on our local Mt Majura daily walk were transformed and creeks and rivulets flowed. By spring, the wildflowers were magnificent. (The weeds were prolific too.)
Chris’s book got to the proofreading stage. Much scribble paper was generated and then shuffled in the process. Twin great-nieces were entertained trying to put the pages back in order. Finally, the book was actually finished, launched and is being well received. Geoff brought his long years of editing, layout, indexing and publishing experience to make all this possible. If you’d like to read it (hardcover, paperback or e-book), go to www.geoffandchris.com/gandc.
2020 also saw closure of Australia’s borders to all but essential air travel and the retirement of the Qantas jumbo jet. From Mt Ainslie, we witnessed the last 747’s farewell flight from Canberra airport. Now we often think of friends around the world suffering from the pandemic in much harder circumstances than ours. We feel the distance and separation.
By November, travel between some states reopened to some extent. We flew to Queensland to spend a few days in a large old house in the Sunshine Coast hinterland with Chris’s siblings and their spouses. On the first day that we were all together we celebrated with lunch out at Montville. That afternoon on a walk to explore the lovely grounds around the house Chris’s sister Alison slipped on loose stones and broke her leg and ankle in three places.