The Village

They say it takes a village to bring up a child.  A good few years ago there were a few families who moved into a small village-type area in a valley and made their homes. Their children have grown up here and are now ready to spread their wings and discover the world.

One family had two beautiful girls, another family had two beautiful girls, another had four beautiful girls and another had a lovely boy.  They all travelled on the school bus to their various schools and grew up having the run of the area, helping fathers and friends with farm work and anything that was going on in the community.

As young teenagers some picked blackberries in season and made small amounts of pocket money, selling this fruit to whoever would buy.  Some did odd jobs around the area, making pocket money that way.  As they grew older, some had small jobs in town.  They played sport, rode horses, walked, swam and generally had fun.

Each year a Christmas party, which was also the Annual General Meeting of the local Cattle Council, is held at the headquarters of this prestigious organisation, an old woodshed owned by the President who, along with his long suffering wife, were the hosts of such parties  This was an amazing event attended by most people in the area and once the formalities were attended to like the positions of treasurer, secretary, publicity officer, vice whatevers and so on, then the party proper could start.  I have to say here that the President was always the President as that position never became vacant (probably because he owned the venue and was also the Mayor!)

However, the lights would then blaze, the barbecue would be fired up, music turned on, sometimes dancing, plenty of food supplied by everyone attending, much talk and laughter and probably, as the night wore on and the drink flowed, with the mood mellowing, a few tall stories of exploits. 

Children ran wild playing hide and seek in the surrounding paddocks in the dark and probably told ghost stories to each other under the big almond tree at the back of the shed.  

This party was the community highlight of the year and the highlight of the evening was an address prepared and given by the hosts, citing the various activities, endeavours, achievements and such like of young and old members alike and handing out specially prepared merit (or otherwise) certificates to the deserving recipients.

The children of which I write received certificates when they were deserved as did some of their parents and friends.  It was quite something to receive such awards.  Photographs were taken as a record of these events and carefully filed away.

The children grew.  The family of four girls moved to town and although still attending the parties from time to time, gradually drifted away from the community with their lives taking different turns.

Twelve months ago the father of two of the girls became ill and passed away.  

Each member of the community felt their loss and were there in support of them and their sweet mother at his funeral.  We were there recently when his ashes were interred in a small local cemetery and gave him the appropriate send off at a party at the family home later that night.

Now these children have grown up, as children are wont to do, ready to spread their wings.  The lovely boy, being slightly older, moved to town to work a few years ago but always returns and is here for every party.  Speaking to him recently he made the comment, “I’m so pleased I grew up in this place.  We had the most wonderful childhood.”

One girl is going to University in Wagga, her sister moving to the Northern Territory for a while.  The two other sisters are moving to Newcastle also to attend University.

The Christmas party this year had been postponed and was held last Saturday, 9 Feb, instead and this served to act as a farewell for these four young women.  The photographs of their doings over the years were dragged out and the address was designed to send them on their way with hope for their respective futures and also sending with them all the community good wishes.

There is a sadness, of course, especially for the older community members who have watched these young people grow and will miss them but all is not lost as there are a new crop of young children and teenagers, bounding around the area, travelling on the school bus to their various schools and growing in the valley.