Lismore. Saturday, 4.15pm:
Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, Lismore gives me reason to smile.
I'm smiling now.
It's not the spring sun leaning on my shoulders that makes me smile; though the sun is warming my spirit and, as all metaphysicists and sunbathers know, warm spirits rise.
It's not the ebb and flow of kids' business from the playground in the beer garden of the Northern Rivers Hotel that makes me smile; though who can resist floating on the tide of children's happy voices rolling in and then out under a spring sunlight which is broken only by the waving shade of a palm or two.
It's not the music from the beer garden stage that makes me smile; though Lil' Fi's voice makes me shiver and her stage swagger is exciting to the point of scary. When she throws back her red head to let loose a high note from her gifted larynx, scratches of anticipation scamper up my spine like lizards up a palm tree and I break into a hot sweat (despite the shivers) that has nothing to do with the spring sun.
It's not the little girl with premature dreadlocks and a big ribbon nestled in them who makes me smile; though her dancing, with some very neat heel-and-toe steps to Lil' Fi's 50s tune, makes even the grey- stubbled face of a thin alcoholic propped against a palm trunk crack into a grin. The lil' gal bops and scoots, her beaming smile exuding a joy that buzzes around the beer garden like a bee under the spring sun, spreading its intoxicating pollen from one person to another like the Disneyland fairy.
It's not the girl's mother (I think, or maybe she's her big sister) who makes me smile; though her coquettish jives are joyous like her daughter's/ sister's, but not at all childish. There's a playful sexuality shaping her ponytail-and-bobby sox moves. She is dancing up a not-so-private ecstasy, her face all wide eyes and dimples of delight under the palms and spring sun.
It's not the people who come up and say hello to me that make me smile; though I do smile. They are my life.
All I am is a small life touched by a few other lives here in this beer garden at the end of the world, and all our lives are lived against a tapestry of human history woven with billions of lives living, or already lived. It's all too brief, this life, but now and again, like here and now, life unfurls itself to the spring sun and unrolls down the long corridor of time where a billion souls under a million previous spring suns dance upon it.
It's the not the woman I'm sitting with who makes me smile; though she has made me smile a thousand times and her own smile would light up the darkest places of any man's soul. Her smile is a semi-trailer in the night. My heart leaps like a wallaby in her lights.
It's not long, tall Jimmy who makes me smile; Jimmy with his cowboy hat creating a circle of shade so big you could fit six heifers, a singing dog, a painted 1936 tractor and two long legs in there; Jimmy who has created a distinctively Lismorian entertainment culture that puts hillbilly music, boots and braces, buck teeth, acrobatics, alternative ethics and 50s swing into a beer garden, adds a spring sun and a couple of palm trees, sprinkles kids, pretty women, drunks and corned beef with white sauce into the mix, and then stirs the lot with a missing tooth.
No, it's none of the these things that make me smile today.
It's all of them.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.