A LITTLE BIT OF LAUGHTER WON’T DO US ANY HARM.

I had promised to make my next blog about self published memoir writers. Alas! I’m not in the mood so here goes another broken promise.
One of my writing text books advises writers NEVER to reveal their unedited writing to anyone – they termed it ‘dirty writing’…(Now don’t misinterpret the word ‘dirty’.).
Today I am going to do just what they advise NOT to do and copy/paste a segment from a random chapter in my as yet unpublished, unedited, un-named sequel to Goodbye Junie Moon.
While re-reading it I had a bit of a giggle and I hope you might too.
If it makes you chuckle at all, – or even smile, please comment and let me know;

NECESSARY BACKGROUND; This section is where I, an Aussie, was living in Fairbanks, Alaska and my mother and teen-age sister came to visit. It is their first time out of Australia.

The sun was still shining when the plane dropped into the small airfield. It was ten at night. As I waited for the passengers to disembark I hopped from foot to foot, craning my neck. Almost five years had passed since I last saw my mother. She would be almost sixty years old and I was sure she would be exhausted after such a long trip. Anxiously, I watched the passengers disembark and make their way down the steps. The stream of humanity became a trickle and there was no sign of her. Nervously I wondered if she had missed the plane. A huge wave of disappointment was beginning to swell when she bounced into view, followed more sedately by Jan. I waved and caught her eye. She waved wildly and almost ran down the stairs, leaving Jan behind. We hugged and chattered excitedly. Jan caught up and we all talked at once as I led them to the Jeep.
“It’s still daylight.” Mum looked at the sky, incredulous! “When do you sleep?”
“Never!” I joked.
We reached the apartment and after I opened the door, they both gasped.
“What the hell is this jungle June? I need a machete to chop my way through.” Mum’s outburst caused Jan to place her hand over her mouth, trying to stifle a giggle.
The birds, upon hearing us enter, greeted us by increased screeching and yelling which caused the rabbit to bounce excitedly around the splashing waterfall. I had been meaning to buy a less powerful pump. Mum thrust vines from her face and worked her way to the corner aviary.
“Do you always have to go overboard girl. I hope you haven’t got Tarzan stashed away somewhere.”
A picture of Doug in a leopard skin loin cloth flashed through my mind.
“The chlorophyll is healthy Mum.” I answered lamely.

A few days later, Doug arrived, allowing me time off to be with Jan and my mother. My mother and Doug got along very well together. Mum being only eight years older than Doug and both of them having experienced their share of hard work. Jan took a little longer to warm to him after hearing him swearing at the drivers.
We had done all the usual tourist things, taken the paddle wheeler down the Chena River, eaten bear and drank in pubs with sawdust and peanut shells littering the floor beneath a sea of women’s brassieres which hung from the rafters.
“I hope we are not expected to add to this collection.” Mum muttered, dubiously eyeing the offending undies in one establishment. Like most diary farmers, she was rather conservative. This was her first time away from Australia and I’m sure she found it quite different.
“I would enjoy this trip better if I could get some damned sleep.” She added in between dainty sips of her shandy. Jan and I sat beside her, quaffing down a couple of frothy beers and Jan, still a good-girl, teenager, and unused to alcohol, was beginning to look a little cross-eyed.
“It’s those damned birds” Mum continued, determined to spoil the moment. “The poor things don’t know when to sleep with the sun always shining. Couldn’t you get some quieter ones? How about Finches?”
Jan contributed to the conversation by attempting to make bird sounds, interspersed with lispish giggles.
“And please June, would you turn that noisy waterfall off when we go to bed.” Mum ignored Jan “I’ve never had to get up to pee so often.” I wiped some froth from the tip of my nose.” Yes Mum. I promise to turn it off. You need sleep for tomorrow. We’re flying to Anchorage for a special treat.”
Jan interrupted with another faltering whistle and I too, ignored her. “Were going to do some sight seeing and then – get this! I’ve chartered a private plane to fly us around the glaciers.”
Jan gave one more bird call before toppling from her stool but Mum was so excited about the upcoming event that she failed to notice.

Two days later we took a taxi from The Captain Cook Hotel to the airfield. Alaska has more private planes per capita than any place in the world and it is famous for the skills of its Bush Pilots. The hundreds of small villages were mostly accessible only by dog sled team, motorized snow sleds or plane. Mum was agog with excitement, just as she had been almost since her arrival.
We arrived at the private airfield. Thousands of small planes stretched as far as the eye could see. The taxi driver, a wizened up little native, found our tool shed sized charter company office with not too much trouble. Our pilot, upon hearing the cab pull up, opened a sliding window and leaned out, greeting us. He didn’t look to be much older than Jan but he had probably been flying since age ten.
“Are you ready for the sights and sounds of the Columbia Glacier?” he rallied us. Mum nodded eagerly. Jan looked uncertain. I gave her an encouraging slap on the back.
Soon we were strapped into the small Cessna, ready for take off.
Anchorage, located around the Cook Inlet, is surrounded by mountains. Drafts, through and around the mountains, can be quite turbulent. Before long we were lurching up and down, our stomachs shooting to and from our throats like a bouncing ball. Jan reached for the brown paper bag and began throwing up violently. It sounded ghastly and didn’t smell great either but, unable to help her, we did our best to ignore it.
We circled one particular mountain peak several times and even I was beginning to wonder why. Flying dangerously close to its thick, icy crust, I could almost reach out and touch it. Certain the pilot knew what he was doing, I remained unperturbed. During my days in Vietnam I had flown with many crazy helicopter pilots who tried to scare me with stunts such as flying beneath bridges. Mum did not appear to be sharing my lack of concern. Her initial smile of pleasure took on a frozen look as her eyes filled with terror. Finally she croaked.
“I’m sure this is the same mountain we have circled a dozen times pilot. Are you lost?”
“No Ma’am,” he replied with a chuckle which was cut short by another loud upchuck from Jan. “I’m trying to find where the Dall sheep are. These mountains are usually full of them but they seem to have disappeared. But don’t you worry. They’re a highlight of the trip and I won’t leave here until we find them.”
“To hell with the Dall sheep!’ my mother retorted ungraciously. “I’ll buy a post card with a photo of them. Move on pilot.”
This was so unlike my mother who was normally ultra polite.
“Our pilot’s name is Jim, Mum.” I tried to nudge her good manners while opening the window to clear the stench. An onslaught of wind blew in with gale force.
“Do you have another bag?” Jan lifted her head to whisper, a string of windblown spittle attaching itself to her cheek.
At last we left the mountains behind and came out into still air. I glanced back at Jan. She lay crumpled in her seat, her body seemingly deflated as her head lolled back; eyes closed tight in a green face.
As the miles passed the vista before us became increasingly spectacular. Blue water met blue sky as majestic white mountains loomed along either side. I heard Mum exhale with relief, and when I looked back again, her frozen smile had melted to normal. At last the glacier came into sight. Mum ooohhed and aahhed as she snapped away with her little camera.
“Get your camera out Jan.” she ordered excitedly “Yours takes better pictures than mine.” Jan responded with a feeble moan and unhitched her camera from around her neck before limply handing it to Mum.
“You take them Mum.” She whispered.
When all the film was exhausted our pilot turned the small craft and headed back the way we had come. An hour later he began to descend.
“Are we landing pi…Jim?” Mum asked “I don’t see an airstrip.”
Indeed. There was none. We were approaching the shore of what looked like an island wilderness.
“Coffee break!” Jim declared “Nothing but the best for our customers. Tighten your belts, ladies.” And he smoothly guided the small plane down onto the water.
With the engine shut off, he and I climbed down onto the struts. I balanced myself against the body of the little plane while edging to the end of the strut. I catapulted myself across the small expanse of water, onto dry land.
“Come on Mum.” I called “Come on Jan. Stretch your legs.”
Trees had grown almost to the waters edge leaving us a clear strip about eight feet wide where we could stand while enjoying our refreshments. Like so many of Alaska’s trees, these were stunted, due to the perma-frost. Jim produced a box of colorful, iced donuts and the largest thermos of coffee I had ever seen. Jan gazed at the pink donut with multi colored sprinkles which Jim offered her. She averted her eyes and shuddered. Mum took one sip of her coffee before whispering into my ear “June. I’ve got to go to the toilet. I’m going to slip in behind those trees.”
“Then watch out for brown bears.” I joked.
“What?” a look of horror crossed Mum’s face “Bears! I’m not going.”
“It was a joke Mum. Come on.”
But that was that, better destroyed kidneys than an encounter with a bear. She tossed her remaining coffee onto the ground. Despite Jim’s best efforts, the morning tea was a bit of a wash-out. For the remainder of the journey, Mum, looking agonized, kept her legs tightly crossed. I grew tired of her constant queries. “How much further, pilot?”
Nevertheless, my mother spent the next twenty years telling anyone who would listen about ‘the best holiday of her life’ the highlight of course being the trip to the glaciers.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lee
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 22:13:51

    Hello June…I hope you don’t mind that I’ve popped in without prior warning. I’m a friend of Alan Sendall’s and saw your post on his FB site. I’m a resident “hill-billy” of Tamborine Mountain. I did have a giggle when reading your story. It reminds me of one of my own when I was managing the resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island…it involved a sea plane – an old Grumman Mallard – and a mature lady a little older in years than the plane itself. No one had thought to tell her when she boarded the sea plane at Townsville airport, that, in fact, it would land upon the water once it arrived at Hinchinbrook! Suffering heart palpitations and almost a heart attack, she headed promptly to the bar once at the resort; there she quickly swallowed a bottle of scotch, swig after swig! No doubt, when she woke after an alcohol-fuelled coma, she’d forgotten everything about her near past!

    Reply

  2. June Collins
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 23:02:23

    Howdy Lee! Always happy to meet a hill-billy. Hope you like Charlie Daniels. Glad you got a giggle. I love writing humor. That section is from my unfinished sequel to Goodbye Junie Moon. I wrote another hilarious (my opinion) chapter this week about getting married in Mexico. I laughed for hours.

    Reply

    • Lee
      Dec 04, 2012 @ 01:36:50

      Yes…I do like Charlie Daniels. I just about wore out a cassette of his music a few years ago! My taste in music is wide and varied.

      Reply

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