This post was originally written as an email to an Aussie friend after an action packed weekend to small town Mount Magnet in remote Western Australia in October 2000. I recently came across it in my Memories file.
>At 05:52 PM 30/10/00 -8, you wrote:
I was driving home from work tonight while listening to CBC. It was
featuring a phone in show and people were talking about attention
getting methods. One story in particular brought a tear and smile as I listened.
You’ll soon understand why.
A lady who grew up on the Canadian prairies was talking about her father’s special four note whistle. He would use it to call the kids in from playing or to gather them up from an outing. Over the years it was a constant identifiable sound that meant Dad was calling and wanted them home. There were five children in her family and every time any one of them heard that special whistle their heads would pop up like gophers.
One particular time long after she became an adult she was curling
in a large bonspiel in Regina, Saskatchewan. It was a serious
competition and she was very focussed on her game. Out of the
blue she heard that four note whistle. Up popped her head and
there he was. Her dad had just made it to the rink after a long drive
from Winnipeg in the next province over.
For some reason all of this reminded me of my Dad’s WHOOP!
We all knew it was him and we all knew that he was trying to get
our attention. It was a clearly identifiable sound that carried a
LONG ways over the Saskatchewan prairie and it meant he was
calling us. Our heads would pop up like gophers and we too would
answer or move to join him.
Strange how memories work.
Things like this broadside me occasionally. I miss my dad.
When I was bouncing around in a 4×4 on a sheep station in the
outback with kangaroos hopping all around us I thought Dad would
have loved this. Even people getting out to open the gates as we
moved across the sheep station brought back memories. I was
often the gate opener when I was growing up. Cattle ranching and
sheep rearing aren’t all that different.
Our experience in Mt. Magnet in Western Australia felt
comfortable. Like going home. The town had that small town feel
and the horse races felt like our agricultural fair. Helping out at the
barbecue was just like helping out at the fair.
Even picking the best dressed man and woman had special
meaning. I know how this small town stuff works. This can be a
minefield task. We did well and happened to pick one fellow who
had volunteered his time for four hours the day before. Volunteer
recognition is important in small towns. Our other choice pleased
the older crowd and made an older lady’s day.
Growing up on a cattle ranch on the Canadian prairies surrounded
by grain fields and pasture is physically different from the
Australian outback with its shrub brush and the red soil but it still
felt like going home.
Even the dance felt familiar. People were friendly, having a good
time and stood around outside the doors during the breaks. Just
I may have lived in a city for the last 3 and half decades but that one weekend
in Mt. Magnet brought the childhood memories flooding back. It
was one of the more memorable times of our entire trip.
Strange how memories work.
Joan grew up in rural Saskatchewan near the small town of Nokomis, the eldest daughter of Ed and Betty Kerr.