Yesterday I was borrowing wood from the forest. I was gathering up the scrappy pieces of timber and trees that had lain over winter. I needed them for a fire. This is the beneficial litter on the forest floor, branches that fall away in storms, small trees that the Forestry workers had cut down and abandoned to rot because they were in the way of better quarry.
Still, I was feeling shifty.
”People were exiled to Van Diemen’s land for far less than this in the old days,” I said to my husband.
”Are you nervous?” he laughed.
”Well….,” I shrugged.
I covered the loot with an old sheet so we would not look brazen driving home with the back of the car full of branches. The smell of mould and wet wood filled the car. I had pine needles and beech leaves in my hair. As we drove along back home, a tractor was blocking the lane and a man in another car had pulled up alongside it for a chat.
”Jesus,” I said. ”They will say we were out stealing wood.”
”That fella in the tractor,” said my husband, ”might look like a harmless peasant, but his brother was caught running a brothel of women from Eastern Europe. And that man talking to him is his friend, and they are obviously both alright with that sort of thing. And you feel shame?”
Women in the backs of lorries and vans. Men in the holds of penal ships on the way to Tasmania.
”Sound horn,” I said.