Celia Waldron

The prescribed title in this case could also be interpreted as KEYS. The key to relationships is complex so often, like the rasping hinge of a farm gate rarely used, or the inexplicable stubbornness of a frequently used one. Gates, like keys can be a joyful opening, to a wondrous new experience, like the gate I opened at the invitation of the Stock and Station Agent to inspect our potential farm purchase. Feelings of another disappointment, after the tension of an auction or, just maybe, this is the one. And it was.

Confirmed by our six year old leaping onto a broad low branch of a beautiful gum gently marking a bend in the drive, followed by a just halfway hug of its reassuring beautiful trunk.

The house it was guarding didn’t matter. And a decisive “This is my tree!” sealed a decision. All the other “sensible” criteria rolled out through the next and subsequent gates of that day. That gate opened well, on countless times to catch the school bus, shop, greet guests to stay and share such good fortune, hospitality, fun, or open to welcome new stock, chooks, trees to line the driveway. And deeply sad, being closed for the last time, 25 years later.

Life goes on. New gates open.

From birth and that gate opening with a first breath, gates opened and closed. Sometimes a cantankerous one needed a shove. Or an encouraging lift up over a hurdle, such as a gentle voice saying after gazing eye to eye turning to quizzical, ” You can touch her you know.” No welcoming hug before being whisked away and that gate closing temporarily. It opened again, clean and warm. That small new person met her father, opening their special gate, before her father rushed to tell the world .

The gates of life opened smoothly often enough, Even returning to work, with that small person just eight weeks old in a basket beside my desk. As manager of an office, there was no one to say no until the basket became too small and so another gate opened, smoothly, mostly, by a nanny – a granny substitute.

Gates to a first Melbourne tram ride to the Botanical gardens, with lunch and bread for the greedy, noisy swans. And indignation when a bird swooped to the picnic table, collecting the sandwich pack in its flight.

That small person grew, and the key to the gate had to be changed so many times, until reaching a large gate to a Gap year at end of Secondary School. This gate, the departure gate at Melbourne Airport and the world.

From that emotional moment, gates to go through, leave open or closed, were largely her choice. Some dependent on a stranger opening, sometimes a phone call to Mum, asking “Which gate shall I open?” University’s became a huge double gate , hers to open, someone else to keep open or close for another to open to another road. And so life unfolds.

Celia Waldron lives in Hepburn and is a member of The Wombat Post Editorial Committee.