As I drove south in the early morning light, the mist was just lifting. It had been cold overnight, and the creek water was steaming as the sun reached it.
This is a beautiful time of the morning. I wasn't in a hurry, so stopped the car and just wandered. It had been a rushed trip, and I was very tired after the late night before. I found a bench and sat, allowing the sun to warm me while I watched the world start. In the distance, a tractor started up, while nearby a man walked his dog along the creek bank.
With a six hour drive still to go, I knew that I couldn't stop for long, but it was pleasant in the sun. Finally, I shook myself out of a half doze and ambled back to the car.
It's been very dry. While the New England countryside still showed traces of greenness, I knew that some graziers had begun to handfeed stock. "We badly need rain", someone had said the night before. "It will be full drought before long."
Turning the car radio on, I continued south listening to the fading sounds of radio 2AD. I was already out of mobile phone reception, and was just entering radio free country. The station was broadcasting from the local IGA store, telling people why they should buy there rather than Coles or Woolies. Not that those two were ever mentioned, but the intent was clear. I listened to that rather strange mix of songs that marks country radio, country plus pop from multiple eras, most about love and loss.
My mainly city raised daughters used to tell me to turn the radio off, they preferred a different music mix, but I like it. I guess it's just what you get used too. The static finally became too much, and I switched the radio off. Driving now in silence, I began to think of short story ideas. I normally write non-fiction, but I have been experimenting with short stories as a different way of expressing myself.
Driving on, I suddenly came across one of those quintessentially New England scenes. Australians call the travelling stock routes the long paddock. I suddenly noticed a small sign by the road warning of stock ahead. I slowed and just as well. Over the hill I found a large mob of cattle being driven along the road, eating the grass on the broad verges on each side.
I stopped to take photos, in so doing spooking the cattle who started rushing across the road. In the distance, I saw a rider with dog rushing up to control the mob. You can't properly see him in this photo, but he is a little dot by the gum trees on the right. Torn, I wanted to get a good shot, I got back into the car to stop creating problems. He rushed past and waved, all the time calling instructions to his dog who ran from one side of the road to the other to keep the mob in order.
Finally, I drove on. I look for my stories everywhere, but this had been an especially satisfying experience.