The first core truth about me is that I love the natural world so much that I collect souvenirs.
Picture this. A blood red 2 door Torana. My lovely mother in a head scarf,and my handsome dad driving. Five (yes 5!) children aged 5-8.5 years in the back seat. Yummy foods, drinks, a blanket and some Lazy Boy chairs in the boot. Destination? Weekend family picnic.
Imagine this. The winding roads and sharp bends leading to the picnic grounds are exaggerated by the pile-up of kids against the 'lucky' two with the window seats. Car sickness complaints are rising from the back seat in anticipation of a travel lozenge doled out to 5 sweaty hands.
Here is a photo of my sister and I aged 6 and 5 years at one of our weekend family picnics. We are holding hands and shyly smiling. Our outfits are identical from the shoes up and so are our haircuts. I am the younger sister on the right. My sister's right hand grasps my right hand and in my left I am holding something. It's difficult to see what it might be. Recently, as I scanned this photo and it was magnified on my laptop screen, I realised that I was holding a small blossom.
Forty years later and my sister and I rarely, if ever, hold hands. We have different tastes in clothing and very different hair styles. But I still bring home souvenirs from my almost daily forays into the natural world. At the moment I have a bottlebrush in a glass near my kitchen sink. Tomorrow it will be something else. Yesterday it was a large fragrant pine needle branch and the many days of nature walks before have seen feathers, shells, flowers, and bright autumn leaves find a home on my sink. When I look at these momentoes throughout the day I am transported back to my walk. Loving nature and bringing it home with me is something I have always done and will probably always do.
The second essential and enduring thing about me is that I love and respect the library and its contents. I know how dorky and nerdy that sounds believe me. Let me explain.
When my 4 siblings and I were growing up our lives were very routine. My mum was a nurse from the 'old school', so breakfast was at 7am, morning tea at 10am, lunch at 12, afternoon tea at 3pm and dinner at 6pm. Mass every Sunday and every Friday night was a whole family trip to the library and fish and chips for dinner.
We lived in a small seaside town so the fish and chips were good. Along with enough chips for a family of seven we ordered potato scallops, fish and sometimes dim sims. These were eaten at home later with pickled onions and fresh white bread. Five Twin Pole icecreams were paid for and wrapped in newspaper ready to collect with our order.
While the fish and chips fried we all went to the library. This was the highlight of my week. I loved the silence, the order and the anticipation and smell of the books.
We were allowed 3 books each so that meant that 15 books came home for the week. I learned to read at age 3 to keep up with my older siblings. There were many whispered discussions in the library stacks before we all agreed about what was coming home that week. The chosen 15 were shared around. Subjects varied from cricket and football to sewing and the Famous Five series. By the time we had all finished primary school we had read every book in the kids section a few times and had moved on to the adult section. At home we read comics and magazines and the newspaper. We each had a book case in our bedrooms filled with books, and we had quiet reading time for 1-2 hours in the afternoon during the holidays and on weekends.
Today I read at least 2 or 3 books a week. This has helped me get through a University degree and post graduate studies. I still love the library. I have worked in the University library as a student searching for rare books, retrieving books from basement collections and scanning and sending articles and chapters to external students. I love entering a library and feeling the excitement of bringing a few books home with me. Reading has helped me find solutions for many of the problems I have had. There is always someone going through something similar and there is always someone writing about it.