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Aunty Gracia The Story

Page 2

Helen Braun

Squeeze full up in the house on the hill, tall walled wide rooms veranda shaded, wrapping the heart of the house, resonant with stories and song the long summer days rolled in out the doorways and hills. Until some were for departing, others for staying and some years my little brother and I got to stay and play all summer long.  Round roofed chook sheds of straw clucked eggs, veggie gardens of tomatoes green yellow squash vines sprawling below the orchard apples pears fuzzy peaches furry almonds. Climbing sheep tracked hills, swing spring creek willow, rough sticky barked pines sky tall above our heads and beds of soft sharp pine needles. And into the car we would go down narrow bendy weed edged roads, visiting trips of help out and commune about and around the hills.

One drizzle sticky day, we visited a weathered farmhouse down a long dirt roadway out in the paddocks. Grunting pigs oinked over chook chook squawking and chug moan tractor fixing groan. And kids running about, girls mostly, yelp yell calling dogs and each other. The adults shouting out a cooee, thump stumped up the back steps carrying my sleepy brother into the house, wire back door slam bang, leaving me outside. The girls stopped spinning about when they saw me standing there. And with glances kind cheeky and curious gathered together. Gleeful in loose line up they began singing out their names to me in rhyme song call. Colleen Doreen Maureen Noreen Eileen Cathleen. When they asked me my name, I quietly replied. A great guffaw blew out and about from behind the girls, swift sweeping to my side with a deep under chuckle, followed by a soft pause. ‘Then you will be “Jilleen”’, announced a calm melodious voice that hugged me in, belonged me in with deep harmony kindness. That was the first time I met Aunty Gracia. 


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