this town.

me + hills

These small town streets only ever seem to point uphill. I walk the shoulder to the general store to buy the backyard bread that shows up fresh every Friday. The roadwork crew has sprayed white happy faces at the base of every metal picket. The air is damp after morning rain, a sultry mix of eucalypt and mud. Dry leaves drift. The river runs, half empty.

On the street I meet a family because they look like strangers and have beautiful black haired children and I’m at a place in my living where that’s all the reason I need. We talk about the last remaining phone booth, our shared roots, and the beauty of the valley. I all but invite them over for tea.

The gas man is the bedrock and keeps the main street feeling like home. There’s smoked trout and a smart alec barista and a guy in a sarong who makes it all smell real. The afternoon sun is long. A man in shorts smoking a ciggy passes me on horseback. I watch for heat hungry snakes and get greeted by a feasting Rosella and two small clingy dogs.

The mountain range is in silhouette. The black cows have brought the flies home to nest. The season is changing. Light moves more quickly now. It will be dark soon. A full moon. Suddenly the sky comes alive, a feathered blur of grey and white and pink and song, as a giant flock of Galahs decides to relocate, move west, follow the setting sun. The swallows fill the space they left behind, and dance as only swallows can. I let my breathe sink deeper, try not to blink, pause to take it all in.

 

sunfire and stardust.

sunrise- r.kennedy

the day started with sun fire streaking the pink sky. it was hot by breakfast and i couldn’t stop sneezing. our tin box bedroom is being taken over by ants and i was shaking cinnamon with wild abandon, grasping at old-wives straws that somehow the spice would convince them to pick up and move house. in the still heat of the morning i was folding all the laundry that i’d washed by hand the day before in my preserving pot basin with cold rainwater and eucalyptus oil soap. somewhere in the middle of the ants and the heat and the folding i heard music. bagpipes calling out Amazing Grace. it was strange and surreal and i stood still, listening and wondering, and then realised that over the hill was the old cemetery, usually forgotten and overgrown in this tiny country town, but today it was singing. today there was dying and remembering. today there was music. so i stopped and i listened because that felt like the right thing to do for a stranger life that lived and lives-no-longer. pay attention. 


in the afternoon i dug my hands into the bounty of tomatoes we’d been given from friends abundant gardens, and let them roast till they popped with basil and garlic and olive oil, the smell of late summer sticking to the sweaty air. i sang bob marley songs while fingering wool and tried to funnel my hazy mind into acts of creation. i watered thirsty plants. i made sage brews and laid flat on the concrete floor of our half-built house. when the sun went down i put headphones on and danced my bones under a galaxy of stars. because i can. at the end of it all i stared up at the night sky and let moments and remembering move through me. it was a day that marks an anniversary in the calendar of my mind. sadness and celebration. loss and gain. it’s a journey full of feelings. full of learning. 


the day started with sun fire and ended with stardust.
so many people tell me that my life is a dream. 

i’m here to tell you it’s as real as the sweat on my skin; as full of loss as the fresh dug grave; as delicious as late summer tomatoes; as true as the breath in my lungs when i dance my bones in moonlit skies.
i couldn’t dream this. i wouldn’t dare.
pay attention.
this living is so real.
xx

thirty days.

beachport - r.kennedy

30 days in and how do i begin?

maybe with the smell of the ocean and the sound of breaking waves and the wild empty beach where the sand was carpeted with smooth fragments of shells, and the washed up seaweed was like an Andy Goldsworthy-art-installation just sitting there being beautiful regardless of whether anyone bothered to come and take notice.

i could tell you about picking ripe mulberries, straight off the tree, blood red juice running down my fingers, staining everything in reach, while Bunter the sheep ran around crying for attention and tasty leaves.

i would want to mention to you about the farmers and wholehearted gardeners i meet who work hard to passionately grow native Australian flora; sun-drenched + kind as, wise in their knowing that so much of this country is relentless + wild and water is a scarce and precious resource, and only the seeds that were born of this place have the strength to innately survive.

koala crossing - r.kennedy

there was also the taxi driver in Adelaide named Amad, who taught us back-seat-riders how to meditate and make traditional soaked almond + poppy seed chai; who understood that not every idea was worth holding on to, and that happiness was born on the inside.

and there are the blue fairy wrens + king parrots + sulphur crested cockatoos + kookaburras + rosellas + lorikeets + magpies + wedge-tailed eagles + giant orchard butterflies + all the other winged wonders and singers and squawkers that fill my skies every day. oh, and also the King Brown snake i almost stepped on + the family of tawny frogmouths i saw sitting in the tree + the hilarious blue-headed emu that ran in front of our car + the mud wasp that is building the most mind-blowing nest on our roof beam + the partial skeleton and still perfectly intact ring of down feathers from a little fairy penguin that i found washed up on the beach.

tumbleweed - r.kennedy

there has been a lot of timber moving and ant-infesting and to-do-list making and big-idea dreaming and in-your-face-obstacle wrangling. there has been wood fired pizza and spinach + cheese pasties and fresh tomatoes and homemade marmalade. there has been days of non-stop rain and nights that begged for extra blankets and afternoons where the salty smell of my own sweat feels suffocating.

sydney - r.kennedy

i have road-tripped to the city and sipped flat whites on the rocks. i have spent days by the sea shore, waking up to beach rambles and falling asleep with a belly full of fresh fish and an ocean moon. there have been meals around big tables, and fish + chips on the beach. but mostly there have been days waking up in a small unfinished shack, the bed sitting where the shower will one day be, the water coming from an outdoor tap on a rain tank, the light coming from the sky. and on most days my view is green hills with cattle grazing, two competing roosters crowing in surround-sound, and a close-to-home existence that has everything to do with hopeful ambition and life-giving community.

i’m so grateful for all of it.

30 days in. there are only beginnings. this adventure has no end…

shack - r.kennedy

fierce beauty

 

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scent of damp earth and hot sun in a castle of glass and steel.

the earth is full of fierce beauty.

 

touch the edge

 

 

It was early evening light on a pebble beach on a hot day. It was me, and a beautiful 10 year old girl, both in our bare feet, waves splashing. We had made the trek to the small stretch of shore on the big lake to hunt. To scour. To search and fill our palms and pockets with washed up treasures.

We set out on a westerly course, away from factory smoke and dog-walkers. We passed a few other scavengers: a pair with arms laden with large rocks; another couple, fists full of sticks. Otherwise, we were all alone, heads down, eyes roaming.

While my blonde-haired companion was collecting black stones and smooth grey rocks, I had my eyes set on mermaids tears. Beach glass. I have a weakness for it, and every piece I find, no matter how small, delights me. Every single time.

My small satchel was gathering a good haul – some nice clear white pieces, a few greens. I even found a holy stone, another cherished beach-combing treasure that my friend Veronica opened my eyes to last year. I was feeling lucky.

To the west, the walking stretch of the beach ends at a rocky point. The land narrows, and most ramblers don’t bother to go that far. We had been combing for a while, and our bags were getting full, and my sun-kissed partner was wondering when we were going to turn around. We were both getting hungry. But, for whatever reason, I had it in my head that on this day I needed to go as far as I could – I wanted to go all the way to the edge.

I couldn’t turn around just yet.

I mean, I could. Sure I could. And part of me thought that I should. Just turn around, head back to the car, call it a day. Our pockets were full.

But no. I couldn’t shake this little thought that kept dancing inside my head that said: sometimes the best gifts are found right at the very edge.

So I pointed to the big rock at the far edge of the shore, and told my girl that I just needed to make it to that rock, and then we could turn around and head home. Almost as soon as I took my next step, a beautiful piece of deep blue glass caught my eye, half buried in sand. Lifting it up, I grinned: I would never have known that I was one step away from this gem if I had packed it in and just turned around.

In the few moments it took me to reach my rocky edge, I found the three best pieces of beach glass I found all day. When I put my foot down on my goal, the big rock at the far edge of the shore, I held out my hand and took a picture.

sea glass - R.Kennedy

……

It’s just pieces of glass, I know.

But in that moment, for me, it was a reminder. It was a reminder that sometimes I need to take myself right to the edge; a reminder that what is easier is not always what is best; and that sometimes the best stuff is waiting just ahead…but I won’t see it unless I take the next step.

And…just to top it all off…as I turned to walk back from the edge I looked down and found my second holy stone of the day, which is a new record for me. I always thought that finding one holy stone at a time was more than amazing. Apparently this hot, pebbly, sun-streaked shoreline was on a mission to expand my expectations and coax me to my edges today.

As we made our way back to the start, my stone-heavy companion asked with wide eyes how I was able to find my handful of colored tears. I was quiet for a moment…what do I say?

How do you teach someone how to look with more than their eyes? How do you tell someone all that you are learning to see?

……

holy stone - R.Kennedy

 

 

 

underneath it all

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i walked this field today
through thick wet snow
while late afternoon sun licked my face,
and i couldn’t help but smile
knowing that underneath all that winter
there is so much wildness
just waiting
to have its turn at glory.

Let no one keep you from your journey

a week later.
after time travel, jet lag, and a flu bug.
feeling like i left home, to come home.
a snow+sick day.
some pictures and a poem.

one

two

three

four

five

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(pic courtesy of Christina)

(pic courtesy of Christina)

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Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it cannot be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.

You are the only explorer,
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

Mark Nepo

murmur

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“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

― Kurt Vonnegut

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a list for curing what ails you

Golden Sails by Elly MacKay

Golden Sails by Elly MacKay


1. a bus ride in a snow storm
2. hot water with fresh squeezed orange juice and honey
3. noodles. always noodles.
4. pocket size hand-bound books
5. neighbourhood farmers markets
6. pear and ginger jam spread on homemade bread topped with thin slices of goat gouda
7. waking up to scones
8. 2 year old dance parties
9. foot rubs
10. the way he wonders about everything
11. beautiful music in bakery forts
12. laughter
13. the company of friends who just let you be
14. sleeping in
15. drawing pictures
16. listening to this. on repeat.
17. spending hard earned money on things that people’s hands have worked hard to make.
18. a long walk on rainy streets in another town
19. chocolate + mint
20. getting back up again, even when it feels like the world keeps knocking you down.
21. losing yourself in a story
22. leaving.
23. returning.
24. the tenderness of sleep.

Lhasa de Sela

“The world doesn’t adjust itself to the soul: the beauty, the magic of the soul is what I want to bring out. My job is to do it my way.” – Lhasa de Sela

Photo Credit: Jérôme Lapierre

Photo Credit: Jérôme Lapierre

Give yourself a beautiful gift and just listen.

……

(Lhasa de Sela quote c/o the black ewe )

Next Posts

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

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