The very last time I take my dog Scarlette for a walk was the first- and, if I’m honest, only- time I’ve taken a proper, long walk around the TinyTrainTown. No particular reason why I haven’t walked more… time constraints, I suppose, and the general unpleasantness of it- while the scenery is bushland and muted green scrub and entirely beautiful, the cars screaming past at a hundred clicks an hour are not.
But the first time, optimist that I am, Scarlette and I walked for a good two kilometers down the road from the TinyTrainHouse, and we walked it quickly, given that my children were in the safe hands of my mother and there was no toddler-paced dawdling to slow us down. We walked past a church, the train lines, a row of rotting, disused telegraph poles with porcelain caps still attached to the top. We walked past houses, mostly newer and brick or clad, some older and wooden and mysterious.
Front yards are varied- large and small, some have fences, some not; some are overgrown and snarled with brackenfern and spiky blackberry bush, grevillea and small eucalyptus. Very few are manicured, but most are neat and somewhat tidy, the debris of busy lives poking through- a bike dropped there (at least it’s safe enough here, still, for children to drop their bikes on the front lawn and lope freely through their front door without even the thought that it may be gone when they return for it); a pile of timber destined for the council pick up here, toys and tools and the junk that makes up people’s lives settled comfortably around garden beds that are occasionally, maybe even lovingly, tended to.
That is why I pay no particular attention to the block of land I am approaching. It’s a large block, obviously, the overgrown tendrils of it’s suburban–ish jungle poking out and falling over themselves to get past a structure of rotted wood and rusty wire that I think was once a fence.
It’s when I get to what used to be a letterbox that I actually look, see beyond three feet in front of me.
Standing there, set back from the road and covered in what looks to be fifty years worth of overgrowth– is a house.
I’m thrilled. Urban decay… I love this shit.
|If you’re a suspicious, hopeful skeptic like me… you’ll be wanting a close up of those orbs. Tomorrow, I promise.|
This house has boards of wood missing and it’s paint faded long ago. The miniature jungle around it has taken over, not only covering the house and, on closer inspection, the handful of outbuildings; but growing into it and through it, clutching at windowpanes and forcing itself into cracks in the floor.
One of the outbuildings is–was– a laundry. It still has a massive old fashioned wringer machine tub, and a fireplace to boil water for washing. There is a cracked and greed mirror still hanging on one wall.
There are still clothes here. Women’s clothes, which may have been quite nice or quite cheap in their day, I can’t tell. Some are crumpled on the floor, dusty piles that I can only imagine have nests of tiny rats in them; but some are still hanging oh the bamboo rod where they have been for… I don’t know. Thirty years, forty? Maybe longer.
This house is so strange, it makes me catch my breath. Piled on what I’m guessing was the front verandah are boxes and baskets and old steam trunks. There are bags and shoes, hundreds of balls of wall and jumpers that look hand knitted. There are tools and art supplies rusting in amongst broken boards and an array of farcically miscellaneous objects, some women’s things, some men’s.