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The Grand South Road, a narrow band
Winds round hills
Of Gippsland, lush
With green spring growth.

The inner curve,
Our car will hug.
But still there is -
A danger!

Milk trucks,
Big tankers of steel,
Stray cows and motor bikes,
Also think they own the road.

Poowong East,
the sign announces,
But where's the town?
Its homes, its shops, its school?

Around a bend,
We sight a hall,
Modern, brick-clad.
A wall of plaques, curtained.

And inside, we see
Walls lined with photographs.
Tables groaning, boiling urns.
Country hospitality abounds.

Tables are grouped,
descendents talk,
The families of those
lost in war.

Cups of tea and
Chocolate cakes,
Sausage rolls and sandwiches.
School photos, army photos

The plaques uncurtained,
By the Rotary man.
Four lads from,
Poowong East School.

The last post sounded,
Heads bowed,
For those boys.
Like their school, no longer here

I woke in the morning.
The red sky a warning -

It's an old wives' tale.
Or is it real?

Oh, we can rant and rale,
But it's wet and cold we feel.

If that's the way the day goes,
We'll wrap from head to toes.

Shod in furry boots,
Our "Uggies".

Fashion gives way
To comfort and warmth.

Nancy and John were both nearing retirement. Like most retiring couples, instead of having a steady plan coming to fruition over a number of years, imminent retirement had crept up on them unexpectedly.

Like most, they had a good super plan in place, but how they were going to spend their retirement years had not had much airing. Nancy had always kept an immaculate house, and had always dreamt of a Bed and Breakfast place. John had always kept an extremely neat garden, so she could not see any problem in carrying out her half-formed plan.

John did wonder why Nancy would always suggest "Richmond Village" when he asked her where she would like to go. So, it came as a surprise to John, when she asked him to stop at Hollyhock cottage in Percy St. It had a 'For Sale' notice on it.

He suddenly realised that Nancy had a different idea of spending retirement than he did. Though vaguely formed, he had always wished to find a hidden cave in a foreign country. He wanted to escape the madness of the city, even Richmond with its swarming tourists seemed far from his dream of an escape.

Over a meat pie and coffee lunch in the Richmond bakery, John and Nancy had their first heart-to-heart talk in a long while. Nancy had not realised that John had a dream, too.

"Well, John, we could go to an island in the Pacific, where there are caves you can explore, and then come back and decide what we are going to do for the rest of our retirement."

In Samoa, they stayed in a little fale that was on the beach. It had an undersea cave that you could swim through and exit behind the fale. The fale was comfortable and clean, with banana leaf woven slats, bed mats on the stone floor, but with modern conveniences in bathroom and kitchen.

Nancy could see that this could be a perfect compromise, if only it was for sale. She suggested it to John. Overjoyed at the thought that his dream could come true, he talked to the chief who owned the fale.

Although Samoa was a member of the Commonwealth, an Australian could not own property there unless he was married to a Samoan. When John heard this, he was so disappointed at his dream disappearing, that he said to Nancy "Let's go to the market and have a nice coffee and snack, I need cheering up."

As they made their way back to the fale, John realised that he did not have his wallet. Returning to the market, no-one had seen his wallet. He was to learn when he got back to the fale that this was commonplace in the market.

Nancy had one travellers cheque left. Luckily it was enough to pay the departure tax, but she had to endure a very angry husband on the way back. His dream had had a double blow.

© Maureen Davoren   April 2012