Dogs. Mountains. And Writing.

17 Jan



I emerged from my cave around eleven this morning, after spending the hours from dawn wrangling language and discovering to my immense satisfaction that I’m some 25,000 plus words  into the book I’m writing.

The household was in disarray. Three dogs were lined up outside the glass door that opens onto the verandah, gazing sorrowfully into the kitchen. J, in high dudgeon, told me that the youngest, an Australian Shepherd born without a tail, had found a hole in the fence through which she scrambled into the next property, and then proceeded to chase Farmer Pete’s brown cows all over the paddock.

J managed to get her back, gave her a good slap on the snout and thought that was the end of the matter. But all three dogs, the others border collies, had different plans. The next time J looked over the verandah they were obviously stalking something. She took off down the hill to see what the hell they were up to. They’d stalked and caught a large lizard, and were torturing it to death. She hauled them off and whacked the lot of them, then found she’d have to destroy the poor lizard, who was too badly injured to be left to live. So she found a rock, and did the deed, and buried it under a cairn of stones so the damn dogs can’t do anything else to it.

By this point in the telling, J was in tears. I looked at the dogs through the glass door. This is why you can’t have nice things, I mouthed at them. They wagged their tails at me, except the youngest who hasn’t got one, and she waggled her whole bottom. It was as if I’d mouthed, you are the most beautiful dogs in the entire universe, which is something I might well have said before this morning.

I’m writing this on the verandah, pausing now and then to look at the Snowy Mountains and Lake Jindabyne in the foreground. Three dogs are sleeping around me and I think every one of them is farting. I have no idea what’s going on in the world outside this minuscule part of it, and I don’t much care. I’ve just done a food and drink run into Jindabyne, as that seemed the most useful thing I could contribute at this point.  J is now running a fever, which is a change from me running a fever. There are HUGE flies up here, and yesterday when I was walking by the Thredbo river I stopped for a bush wee and they bit me on the arse. J said they’re March flies. I said what the hell are March flies doing out in January and she said that question was stupid.

I have just re-read Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, in which she describes the demented state of mind she experienced after the sudden death of her husband during her daughter’s life-threatening illness. I’m only now beginning to see that the state I experienced after my husband’s death was, actually, demented. Nobody tells you this about grief. Nobody says, you may become demented, you might find yourself doing all kinds of extraordinary things you’ve never done before and you won’t even realise you’re doing them and that’s because grief can make you demented. Well, everybody ought to read Joan Didion’s account of it and prepare themselves. Society does not deal well with the demented bereaved. After the ashes are scattered or the coffin laid in the ground you’re supposed to move on because nobody knows what to do with you. Well, fuck that for a joke.

Now I’ve just eaten a lunch of ripe organic Brie, snow peas, tiny sweet tomatoes and green olives, followed by the most luscious cherries I’ve tasted in years for dessert. J is sleeping. There are thunder clouds building up over the mountains. There are 25,000 more words clamouring to be written. I’m on a deadline. Talk soon.


20 Responses to “Dogs. Mountains. And Writing.”

  1. Richard Laidlaw January 17, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

    I’ve always loved that Derrida quote.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kristapet January 17, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

    Enjoyed your domestic mountain cameo – reflections and musings – I hope your words flow and shape as you meet your deadline

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

      Thanks, Kristapet. It’s idyllic up here so I have no excuses.


  3. Gina January 17, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    You’re in Jindabyne? That’s not too far from Canberra. Years ago, yes it’s been years since I ventured into Jindabyne, I was walking along and got bit by a fly and it damn hurt like something severe. I wonder if that’s why I haven’t been back?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 17, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

      It might be why you haven’t been back, they’re pretty aggressive right now and big as.
      I don’t live here, just come a couple of times a year. Not in Jindy,a few ks out. One of my favourite places in the whole world. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • helvityni January 19, 2016 at 9:52 am #

      Ahh, the flies, the bloody Australian flies. They finally drove us back to town from our most beautiful farm in the Southern Tablelands…why are there so many of them, no one has been able to give me a satisfactory answer…so far.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gina January 19, 2016 at 9:54 am #

        I’ve no idea. If we somehow work out how to eradicate them, I wonder what kind of ecological disturbance it would create?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson January 20, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

        They serve some purpose in the eco system but I don’t now what it is, Helvi. They bite horribly up here.


  4. rhyllmcmaster January 17, 2016 at 8:25 pm #

    Jennifer, I do love your writing – its wry, clever, staunch heartfeltedness, and the promise you make that even if we can’t always work things out, the only decent thing to do is have a go at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. doug quixote January 17, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

    Mad Cow Disease?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. David Irving (no relation) January 17, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

    Lovely writing. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elisabeth January 19, 2016 at 8:24 am #

    Sounds like the perfect holiday, the joys of writing against the tensions of living and under all of that remembering grief. Joan Didion’s ‘Year of magical thinking’ is a brilliant book. It occurred to me now to recommend it to my nephew-in-law who lost his young wife six months or so ago, but then I thought maybe it’s a book you need to read further from that first burst of grief, otherwise it might all be too much. I so much remember the time in the book when several months after her husband’s death, Didion goes to throw out his clothes, shoes and all. She holds back one pair of shoes with the insistent – maybe demented – thought: he’ll need these when he comes back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 20, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

      Yes, it’s a brilliant account of the first year of grieving. I wouldn’t have been able to read it immediately, but I couldn’t read anything for months.
      Nice to see you here again, Elisabeth.


  8. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) January 19, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    Something on topic that I didn’t know:


  9. Galavanting Gran January 22, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

    I also love your writing. Can anyone really tell another about grief? I was quite demented for a long time and I had strong pains in my wrists. I do not think I would have understood if someone had told me this. And now after so long I don’t think I could explain grief at the loss of a husband or how I survived to another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

      Gran, No, I don’t think it can be explained, but it can be recorded for others to read if in the same situation.

      I had awful & inexplicable pain down my right side for a long time. One day a doctor asked me on which side my husband was paralysed. His right, of course. Very strange thing, grief.

      Liked by 1 person

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