Up high on a hill, on the outskirts of an old country town, stands a thick circle of cypress trees. A distinct and purposefully planted row of trees extends from the dark clump, giving the impression from the distance of a driveway. On long walks along a dusty road we have caught glimpses of an old rooftop through the dark leaves, and wondered.
Yesterday we sat in our rickety caravan. Mum, my step Dad, Gramps, Birdie, Pixie and me. The rain drizzled down the windows and the sky was dark. We ate salami and cheese toasties and drank hot coffee. We wondered.
We wanted to go for a walk but it was cold, it was wet, it was dark, and Pixie and step Dad were recovering from gastro. We wondered.
Do you have binoculars? I asked.
Not here in the caravan, came the reply.
There was only one option. We all piled into the car and drove slowly up the dusty road, circling this way and that around the curves of mountainous green hills, past Nellie the jet black cow, past a yard full to the brim with old farm junk, past two dams, past a rambling weatherboard house, up, and up, and up, until we reached a padlocked gate at the very top. We stood, hands on hips, and looked at one another, then at the gate. We wondered.
There was only one option. Over we went, one by one, over the fence. Mum, step Dad, Gramps, Birdie, Pixie and me. We walked along the old driveway until we could see the long line of cypress trees lining the drive. We walked until we could see a little house peeking out from behind a dark clump of old trees with 360 degree views of valleys and farms and ocean.
It was at that very moment we realised that the little old house looked decidedly more occupied, than unoccupied. It was at that moment our romantic daydreams of an abandoned house on a hilltop filled with unwanted mint green pyrex bowls, rusted enamel plates, cobwebs, chipped dusty wooden tables with round heat stains from long forgotten teapots, fallen chairs and delicate lace curtains that disintegrate with a light touch, was overtaken by the reality. An old farmhouse, potentially used for storage or perhaps even lived in. An old farmhouse, that was not going to be our secret hideout. An old farmhouse, that was not ours.
We turned and walked back down the driveway, climbed back over the fence, picked some flowers, hopped back in the car, drove back down the winding road, past a rambling weatherboard house, past two dams, past a yard filled to the brim with farm junk, past Nellie the jet black cow, down around the curves of mountainous green hills, back down to our little caravan, where we sat drinking hot coffee, thinking and dreaming of old abandoned farmhouses.