I don’t ask for help

Help and support signpost

I was seventeen when I drove my car sideways through a sugarcane field. The fault was all mine—I’d driven too fast around a corner on a dark and wet country road while tired after a long shift at the local fast food restaurant. One small overcorrection left me fishtailing across the road and down the embankment. Then the car bucked and tilted onto two wheels before the 5m high sugarcane suddenly brought everything to a halt, providing a soft, green cushion that gently tumbled the car back onto all fours.

I was fortunate to be alive. The only injury I had was a tiny cut to my cheek courtesy of a cane frond that had come in through the driver’s side window. But in the aftermath, all I could think about was how Mum would yell and offer me a cup of tea, and how Dad would scrub his hands over his face, unable to speak. I knew I’d be teased mercilessly at school, and that my sister and brother would lord it over me with their lovely, undented cars and pristine driving records.

So when the headlights from another car came into view, I did the only thing that made sense—I turned off my lights and hunkered out of sight.

It was only after the car had gone safely past the corner that I thought perhaps I’d made a mistake. Mobile reception didn’t exist in the area and no one knew of my predicament. So I sat there in the dark, contemplating my life choices, until the next car came along almost an hour later and I sheepishly caught a ride home.

I’d like to say that the accident taught me a great life lesson. But I’ll wait until I’m overwhelmed with exhaustion and about to press delete on a year’s worth of writing before I begrudgingly raise my hand.

Because I’m still the kid who’d rather sit in a banged up car in the middle of a sugarcane field than ask for help.

Dogs are gloriously disgusting

The beach at Chelsea, in Victoria, is a secret gem. Pale white sand, surprisingly turquoise water and thunderclouds on the horizon are the norm. It could be a 10˚C day and Chelsea’s beach could fool you into thinking you were on a tropical island watching a summer storm roll past.

Chelsea on a 10C day.

Chelsea on a 10C day.

Ahh, summer!

Ahh, summer!

Jellyfish the size of dinner plates wash ashore most mornings. Their stinging cells are negligible to all but the tiniest of fish, and by the time they hit the beach, they’re harmless. Most beachwalkers avoid them anyway, so too their dogs who enjoy the freedom of an off-lead outing.

Sheldon, however, is an exception. A handsome Labrador with a distinguished grey muzzle and jaunty tail, Sheldon will examine each and every jellyfish. He looks for The One—a jellyfish whose edges have been crusted by the sun, whose solid bulbous centre has turned slightly to mush. To this chosen one, he gives a lick and a gentle nibble on the side (just to be sure), before he cocks his leg and continues on his explorations.

It’s only half an hour later when the debacle begins. On our return along the beach, Sheldon, eyes bright and tongue lolling, will hunt out that special jellyfish. It has been sitting in the sun, seasoning, if you will.

It’s clear the moment he’s found it. His muscles seem to loosen, his very bones turn to liquid, and he flops down onto the jellyfish shoulder-first. Then comes the joyful rolling, the happy wriggling and victorious bark as the jellyfish turns to slush.

Sheldon eventually rises, covered in gloop and his own urine.

I give an embarrassed shrug to horrified onlookers, but I don’t stop him. A bucket, shampoo and towel are waiting for us beside the back door at home.

But Sheldon has one more act in this daily show. He snuffles the sand and digs out the dirtiest, smelliest remnant of the jellyfish.

And then he eats it.

I don’t know of any other dog who pees on jellyfish, rolls on them and then eats them. But his simple joy is one of the many reasons I cherish him.

My love requires no seasoning.

Don't judge...I'm awesome.

Don’t judge…I’m awesome.

5 Tips for Surviving A Cyclone

Growing up, I got to experience the eye of a cyclone travelling right over our tiny coastal town. I remember building a mattress fort with my twin and listening for hours as the wind howled through the louvres and rain pummelled the side of the house. When the eye finally swept over us and we all headed outside, there was something magical about the dead calm, dripping palm fronds and clear night sky. Ten minutes later, the wind roared back to life and we rushed for safety.

Ingrid_TMO_2005066_lrgNow, going outside at any time during a cyclone makes you a dumbass in the eyes of the authorities, but it’s also kinda a prerequisite for being a local. As is stocking up on beer, chips and chocolate instead of water, batteries and baked beans.

Tropical Cyclone Marcia is about to hit the Queensland coast, bringing with it 260km/hr winds and flooding rain. So as a newly-returned local to these parts, I feel it is my duty to share some key pointers I’ve learnt should you find yourself in the path of a cyclone:

1) Eating all of the ice cream is a fiscally mature response to the threat of power failure.

2) Throwing the trampoline into the pool to stop it from flying away will not be your brightest idea.

3) Putting your pets in a room will keep them safe, but those stains are never coming out of the carpet.

4) If the glass windows begin bowing and flexing from the wind, close the curtains and pretend you saw nothing.

5) If you lose the roof, hide under a mattress and hope it wasn’t the one your mate Wozza threw up on two weeks ago.

Cyclone Marcia isn’t going to hit my town but my twin, cousins and their families are in the direct path. Like true locals, they’re resentfully clearing their yards, securing fly-away items and checking over their beer and chips stash.

Stay safe, everyone, and keep your sense of humour. xx