Inklings of Place
January 39°C (102°F). We sit in the cool of the front veranda breathing the crisp dry air of a South Australian heatwave. We watch the front garden micro-activity on the dust-bowl patch of earth that passes for lawn in winter.
Dried grasses. Dormant seeds. Parched soil.
A universe of insects, going about their business.
Underground I imagine layers of fine-grained dirt, tightly bound. Roots, moisture, blind creatures of deep earth. Clay. Bedrock. Above ground reaps the rewards.
Plump bottlebrush blossoms display all the firey shades: lemon, ochre, coral, salmon, rose, crimson, burgundy, sienna, blood orange. The bottlebrush tree releases nectar without reserve—a reward for its community pollinators.
Honeyeaters flit from tree to tree.
There’s a grey shrikethrush competing with the magpies for that quintessential place-song—the sound that plants you right here and there all at once, no matter where you are.
By now, traffic noise is muted to a gliding hum.
Still, we sit in our weather. The air is dry. It is the dry air of our place. When experienced elsewhere, the air aligns with the magpie’s dawn-chorus or the mellow warble of the shrikethrush—we are transported home by a sight, a sound, an atmosphere. Our reactions.
We sit in the knowledge that knowing about summer heatwaves does not lessen their impact. We continue the cold-drink sip-and-drip, enjoying the competition of opposing temperatures. Marking patterns on the glass that momentarily trace its whereabouts. Its place, its moment. And ours.
Inklings of Weather
We sit and marvel at the weather. Weather is supernatural. Weather-talk is cliché. It takes up a whole section of the daily news. Hourly. Knowing about weather does not lessen its impact. But planning is everything. We can always be better prepared—how bittersweet the whinger who was prepared but nothing happened. That’s weather for you.
Weather can be a conversational moment-holder. A backup plan. An all inclusive filler topic that everyone can talk about, until a more-or-less interesting topic rolls up. If ever.
But at the same time weather-talk is critical. Talking about weather [storytelling] helps us learn how others live, how they cope in their place. On their dust-bowl or mudflat or lawn green or … .
We sit knowing that our front-veranda ruminations sound somewhat paltry to a nearby rabbit. A neighbour. The redbacks in the woodpile. A dog walker, passing by. But these trivial tidbits contain remnants of ancestral survival—of the innate human requirement to understand and predict the weather.
Inklings of Fear
January 34°C (93°F). Light South Westerly breeze. I sit again on the front veranda. This time with my watercolours and brush. Air still dry.
The vibrations of a passing helicopter beat the air on high speed. Palpable pressure battering my ears in waves. It reminds me of the week before Christmas, 2019. The memory is not so much of bushfires, but more of a time of great vulnerability. And lots of weather.
Our whole family, street, town, region, state, country had had inklings.
Our inkling of fear is a faded feeling today, as we carry on in our 90-year-old home. The vulnerability we experienced in 2019 shifted to responsibility in support of others. Their inklings did become reality when our collective world-view had shrunk to a fire-scar. That reality streamed nationally on the nightly news in unfamiliar aerial views of our lives. Black skies at midday, a frightened horse racing up the road, a firetruck on an everyday street, running people, torched wildlife. Wildfire creating its own weather.
Inklings of Art
January 30°C (86°F). Today I sit with a new sense of gratitude for our place. The apple tree that refused to burn, the woodpile that embers missed, the old pine trees that dodged the fate of the trees on the hill, and for the 85-year-old walnut tree that gave us (and the cockatoos) walnuts again this season.
This painting represents a street of inklings using a Bottlebrush colour palette. Our walnut tree is firmly rooted into the vein of this place. The lifeblood. The tree has been here longer than me, it is stronger than me, it holds onto its place with tenacity, while I brush over the top. But we are both vulnerable. Inklings cling in microscopic particles to waves of air.
Kendrea Rhodes’ SALA 2022 online exhibition comes to you from the Adelaide Hills in winter. This exhibition focuses on alternative methods of studying place and community through art praxis. Various images are framed and for sale during the SALA 2022 Festival. [digital images are not 100% representative of physical artwork, they are distinct artworks in themselves and can be printed for purchase upon request]. Contact KendreArt here