The Heart of it All: An Ode to Tassie
Hints of sweet honeysuckle and mint. Crisp forest dew and pine bark, damp. Soft touches of wood-like nectar circle the air, subtly paired with a burnt caramel popcorn.
Tasmania’s winter aromas linger as they dance harmoniously on the tips of my nostrils. Raindrops fall, softly decorating the surrounding flora. I sit on our aging veranda, sipping on warm ginger tea sweetened with maple syrup, my floral mug nestled between my freckled hands. I take a deep breath in: smells I remember all too well. As I close my eyes, I feel a glow within, soothed by the soft resonances of yellow wattlebirds.
Tassie, those small, overshadowed moments you gave me will forever remain. You are my home.
Like many young girls, I believed fairies to be real. Countless tea parties and secret whispers. In my eyes, our home was a fairy kingdom and I adored every inch of it. This was the beginning of my love story with you, Tasmania.
I remember playing hide and seek with my two younger brothers in our long-grassed paddock before harvest. I would trip and fall, and so would they: sneaky dips hidden within the field of barley. Our laughter filled the small valley we called home, encouraging us to shout at the top of our lungs in return, our voices soon trailing back in echoes. Then one day, Dad mowed a maze for us, leaving three pairs of cheeks rosy red from grinning.
Then there were the moments that seemed unforgiving. Like the time one of my brothers fell off a hay bale while another ran on top, almost ending his life. Or when I leaped over a deep ditch masked slightly by the fraying grass and landed in a damp cow patty. I left with scratches that lasted weeks as they turned to scabs.
Despite our collection of bruises, cuts and slightly troubled moments, though, I never hesitated to return the next day.
Mum would happily watch from the kitchen of our small family cottage, its outside walls of sanded bricks and its window frames of homemade pine, withered from the rain as it stood quaintly surrounded by eucalyptus, leatherwood and wattle.
“Mischievous little monkeys,” Mum would say.
But she never once stopped us, no matter our wildish antics. For my parents moved to your comfort to escape the “hustle and bustle” of the city. To raise a family where their children were able to roam and run free. To be a part of a small, connected community. And to appreciate the little things.
One thing you do so well, Tassie, is set the scene.
Long family road trips became a tradition. Dad would play America and we would end up driving for hours. These moments I adored. Like the time we ventured along the East Coast, our desired destinations waiting patiently while we got distracted by our shared curiosity of your coastlines and vinery flora. Or when we drove home through your cascade-like countryside, your gumtrees adorned in withered bark and fields of green scattered with marshmallow sheep. Those quaint towns Dad would drive through to avoid the highway, where buildings were ageless and streets were lined with terracotta bricks. Those were my favourite. Cosy cafes, Dad in a trance, induced by the aroma of coffee beans, and Mum sipping warmly on her English Breakfast tea while the three of us kids huddled by the woodfire or glanced out the window to see more of you.
Your natural architecture, how it dips and bends with such ease and elegance. Even your smallest corners are full of wondrous beauty. How, from the seat of our family X-trial, you would take us on a journey different from the week before. And the way your cool, perfumed air moved through the car, hints of lavender and Huon pine, with Mum’s beloved dreamcatcher dancing in soft waves.
Each of these moments are forever suspended in time, just as the nights by the campfire gazing up at the night sky you so kindly gifted us are.
Stars, they glistened as the sounds of crickets loomed against the stir of wallabies and the rustle of resident foragers. The five of us drew lines with our fingers between the stars, squinting with one eye shut, creating birds with three wings and dragonflies with horns bundled up in our woollen throws.
And just like those woollen throws, you have always been there surrounding my family in a blanket of comfort. A comfort that allowed the creation of an endearing bond I knew to be normal growing up. And to this day, you remain an overseer of my kin and a root beneath our immediate family tree.
You encourage curiosity above all else, with your intricate vine-like growth against your open spaces. You intrigued us and allowed us to seek more, to discover, to frolic both your landscape and others, too. And with this, you invited travel into my family home.
Whether it’s across the Bass Strait or across continents, you travel with me, Tassie, nestled deep within my heart.
It is your smells, your sounds and your sights that linger. And once I return to you and place my bare feet on the heavenly green carpet you gently lay out for me, I feel your warmth like an amber flame from our open wood fireplace, thawing my toes.
Tasmania, you will forever be the place that nurtured my family.
You have my love, always.
Photos by the author