Scribble Sands: a Moment in Jumbly Time


Every year as the Winter storms gathered out to sea, Jumbly would make the journey from his village to the ocean. It took days and he would camp along the way.

Nights were spent lying under the stars, listening to the evening fade and the sounds of the dark begin. Jumbly would think over the year that was, everything that happened, the good and the sad, the happy and the bad, and all the pieces in between. He would think deeply about each moment, what happened and how each action led to the next. Some things were savoured and remembered with relish. Others were more difficult to think about but this was his time to consider it all.

Each morning began with the dawn chorus. Jumbly would stretch and unwrap his blanket and roll up his bed. He washed his face and brushed his head. Then he would stir the fire to light and boil water for his tea. Mixing a bit of water and salt with flour, he wrapped damper round a stick and put it to cook in the coals. When his tea was made, he added dried meat, herbs and veggies, let it all simmer, then soaked it up with hot damper. Jumbly always felt his very best meals were on this journey. Fueled up for the day, he would take down the fire, make sure no sign was left of his passing, give thanks for his sojourn and be on his way.

By the fifth day he was ready to see the ocean. There was a last run of dunes and then there it was. As far as his eyes could see, the grey waves spread, lapping at the land, singing out to sea. Above all the clouds boiled, whipped to fever by the wind, waiting to drop their load upon the land for the cycle of wet to begin.

And Jumbly, he would laugh and laugh and laugh. Arms spread wide, he would take it all in. Every brush of air, each spray of salt, wind knotting his hair and whipping his chin. For here at last was the place to release all he had learnt over the past year. Every pleasure, every sin.

Stashing his gear, Jumbly ran down the dunes to the soft soft sand. Across the sand and into the waves, he threw himself into the sea. When finally he emerged, striding through the waves, he found a sturdy stick and began to write.

As the tide turned out, Jumbly wrote in the sand. Every part of the year was expressed. Good, bad, indifferent, everything he said, thought felt and did was written. There were years where he had not much to say and years where he felt he would run out of beach. Everything was scribbled in the sands. His friends, his gains, his losses, his pains, his cross words, his kind acts, his pride, his humility. Most of all, he wrote his gratitude.

When finally he was done, he sat upon the highest dune and watched the waves come in. The sea lapped at the land again and gradually crept across the sand, washing his words out to sea. Jumbly sat until all the words were gone, every syllable, every note. All washed out to the great beyond, all washed away, all stored for those who ponder to share what he wrote.

Refreshed he made his camp for one night and in the morning began his journey home. Jumbly, oh our Jumbly Man, was ready to face what might come.

(c) CLHHarper February 2014

My cup overfloweth


Every now and then my cup overfloweth. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Let’s see, youngest daughter starting high school, check.

Still have eldest daughter’s toddler at least one weekend a month, check.

18 year old son’s 27 year old girlfriend has moved into his bungalow with him, check.

Have six animals to care for, check.

Two elderly parents, check.

Working full time, check.

Volunteering as a Mentor for local program, check.

Hmm, something has gotta give and I would rather it not be me.

Life is for living and I have lived my life chockablock full. I abhor drama but there seems to be a never ending supply of the stuff. Oh, I know…. I won’t accredit as a foster carer this year. Whew, that’s a load off. (slightly hysterical laughter)

On the inside I may be quaking in fear and deeply distressed. Heaven forbid I show it on the outside. When I shared what my son was up to, friends commented, you’re taking it very calmly. No, I’m not, but I figure that when we are 18 and questing for challenge and acceptance, at the very least I can accept and support his choices. And be here to pick up the pieces if needs be.

My youngest daughter asked, what if they have a baby? I replied, then we pitch in and help out, just like we have with the little fella. Who’s that? He is the son of my eldest ex-foster child and I get to be his Grandma. I’ve always wanted to be a grandma just had to go the long way round to get there.

I wasn’t able to have children, so fostered and permanent cared. Permanent care is when a child who’s birth parent is unable to care for them is placed permanently with a carer. I am her legal guardian and her everyday parent. Her birth mum comes up to stay most weekends. The others were all foster placements and I love them just the same. Even if I shake my head at their folly.

Of course, my follies were far wilder and emotionally dangerous. I had no fall back position, no one to catch me when I fell. I want to be that for my little mob. Hard as it is to breathe sometimes.

I think I’m going to have ‘Inhale’ tattooed on my left wrist and ‘Exhale’ tattooed on the right. Just in case I forget. Then I think I’ll have ‘Step Up’  on my left ankle and ‘Let Go’ on my right. That way, when my head is hanging, I’ll be reminded.

Letting go. Nothing like parenthood to teach you the trouble of letting go. Letting go, letting them make their own mistakes, let them rail at you for not being on their side, let them come back and tell you that you are always there for them.

Let go.



Let me tell you a story..

Once upon a time there was a woman who was restless and longed to see the world. She was so focussed on her dream that she simply didn’t see how sad her family was or how sorrowful her friends were. They would miss her.

When the day came for her leaving, she joyfully fared them well and left without a backwards glance. They waved until they could see her no longer.

The woman had a marvelous time in her travels and met many varied and interesting people. Whenever she experienced something amazing or had a funny experience, she would turn to share it with her friends and family.

Time and time again, they were not there.

Finally her cup was full to overflowing. If she didn’t get to share her stories soon, she felt she would just burst. For all the lovely people she had met on her travels, none of them knew her, or would have laughed with her in just that moment, or remembered with her how this experienced echoed one from a shared childhood.

It was time to go home.

When she returned home, she was well hailed by friends and family. She was greeted with great love and kindness. The woman shared her stories at length, knowing they would understand. They listened politely, laughing, then bidding her farewell, hurried back to their lives.

For their lives had continued on, without her. They loved her and we pleased to have her amongst them again. They were happy to listen to a tale or two but then they must return to their spouses, children, work, lives.

For a long time, she felt out of place. She hankered for the people and experiences she had while away. But a little wisdom had taken root and she knew that those people’s lives would have gone on too.

There was only one thing to do.

She lived.


and that is the end of the story.


(c) CLHarper Feb 2014