The perspective of one year

This coming Saturday marks exactly one year since I arrived in Alice Springs. I rolled into town in the morning and in the afternoon headed out to Ross River for the Wide Open Space festival.

I remember feeling rather overwhelmed by the colourful crowds after a solid six months at a rather remote truck stop further up the track. In the end I met a couple of amazing women and the journey that this last year has been was off! I’m happy to be marking the anniversary by being a part of the festival. This time I’m operating a coffee cart and the buzz and frenzy of last minute organistion is setting in, with lists that seem to get longer the faster I tick things off!

A curious thing happens in this town (and probably many others) leading up to blocks of public holidays or festivals and it happens at the supermarket. I’m not sure if it’s my organizational skills that may be lacking or maybe that Woolies just can’t keep up with demand but soymilk certainly is a hot commodity at the moment! The shelves are just about bare of favoured soymilk brands and with new stock not expected till Friday I can just imagine market stallholders queuing at the doors at opening time jostling for the precious bean brew!

It’s recently been a pleasure to watch Alice Springs ‘warming up’ in this cooler weather with the arrival of visitors and Wide Open Space festival-goers. I’ve noticed the town’s benches are now rarely empty, often occupied by visitors having a snack, a chat or a coffee. I looked down the mall the other day and saw in the bright light quite a number of people wandering around, looking to check out the sights. More than a couple of times I’ve been waved down by a map and with gestures and finger-pointing sent people off in the right direction, I think!

On the roads I’ve noticed an influx of brightly decorated old vans decked out for camping. As the grey nomads roll in packing out the outdoor seating at Gloria Jeans, stories of car trouble abound – from strangers at the laundromat to newly stranded hippies with signature dreadlocks told around a campfire.

Anyway it’s quite nice to have this sense of perspective that you get in a ‘new’ place once you’ve experienced it for a full year. Seeing the full range of seasonal changes and what they bring from deserted streets in midday heat to car parks by the river full of travellers having a stretch.

I have found myself noticing the grape vine leaves in the mall turning red and brown again and quickly giving way to the winter sun. Around this time last year I would stand from my vantage point behind the coffee machine at Soma and wonder at this one leaf that hadn’t dropped. It held on for weeks and weeks till the day I photographed it and later that afternoon I looked up to see it had finally let go and drifted away.

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