Sunday, June 3, 2007

Home


I grew up in Box Hill South and I have written bits and pieces about my childhood before. A post by Finn got me thinking about that place as home.

I often drive past, peer through the bushes and the fence as I pass slowly, remembering what it was like when I lived there. The trees I planted in the 70’s are still there, now tall and healthy for the most part, although some of the other cherished plants are gone. The bottlebrush I was given in Grade 1 in 1963 which flowered each spring in the front yard has been removed and I mourn that one. The Bird of Paradise stuck in the back corner of the front yard which came from a cutting in my grandparents house is still there and I have wondered if I could dare knock on the door and ask if I could dig up a little piece for myself.

The house was not large – three bedrooms and a combined lounge dining room. My bedroom abutted the dining room and I could hear everything that was going on through the walls. I wonder if the child who lives there now sees the same motes of dust that floated before my eyes on those sunny days when the rays would pass between the slats of the ventian blinds.

The ceilings were high, much higher than modern homes, and the walls were plastered with wallpaper hung lovingly by my mother and I suspect now long gone.

The two black wattle trees that dominated the backyard, up which I could climb to clamber and sit upon the roof are now also gone. As is the old timber ladder that Dad hung horizontally between the trees as a tree house for me.

I cannot see into the backyard and so I do not know if the old Hills Hoist we used to swing from is still there, or whether the weather boards that were chewed by my dog Billy Jack have been replaced, or whether the camellia still drapes against the neighbours fence. The bones of my pets also lie buried beneath the gardens somewhere in that out of sight back yard.

The chimney is still there but the open fireplace replaced when I was young by a briquette heater, then later, oil and gas ones. The brick hearth upon which several glasses were dropped and broken is likely still there, and the floor which had a hole burnt in it one night when a log rolled from the fire place, is likely still covered with carpet, although probably not the floral brown carpet my Mum and Dad had put down.

The Venetian blinds covered with orange scrim have been replaced by drapes and it is way too voyeuristic to try and peer inside to see what is there now. The old Bakelite black phone on the servery between the kitchen and dining room was replaced when Mum and Dad were there but it’s funny how I can still remember our first phone number 28-3928.

I look at how high off the ground the front part of the house is and remember that it seemed much higher when I was small and could play beneath the house with the dog, even standing up in places. I remember the times spent sitting on the roof, enjoying the sun and quiet and peering north towards the golf course.

The old post and rail wooden fence we used to run and jump over pretending we were riding horses has also gone, but the Grevillea Robusta still stands in the front yard outside the kitchen window. Dad had a love hate relationship with that tree, enjoying the shade in summer but hating the way it shed it’s old leaves as the new growth came on in spring. The old apples trees which also stood in the front yard and which lead to the smell of fermented fruit as the bird attacked apples dropped to the ground and rotted are also gone.

So my home is now someone elses. I don’t remember when that happened. Sometime, a long time ago now, when the boy became the man perhaps, or when my parents sold the old place and moved out. The memories remain. For me it is still one of my homes.

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