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Road less travelled” It is your bloody choice,” Jessie Blackburn said to me and these few words changed my attitude towards life.

He lives at the end of an 80 km stretch of dirt rad, tucked away up the north of South Australia and he lives under a rainbow – with a flurry of clucking chooks, two scruffy dogs

and a sleepy cat.  Jessie is the owner and operator of the Never Seen service station, providing fuel, refreshments and a welcoming smile to weary travellers, just like me.

He is the survivor of the 2009 bushfire, which wiped out all houses in the area – including his own. Jessie chose to rebuild on the ash and among the chared eucalypts.

” I knew it was coming,” he said about the roaring bushfire, that caught him by surprise, despite his years spent fighting fires: ” I just didn’t expect it to be that bad – the terrible wind, the noise and intenese light were like bombardment,” Jessie added, filling the kettle for a cuppa.

” What a collection you have here,” I tried to change the gloomy subject looking out through the window at the cluttered yard.

” It’s just a bit of mess really,” he smiles shyly: ” It’s all new since the fire. It gives tourists something to think about.”

I walked out cautiously with a hot cup of tea in my hands looking at an eclectic collection of everything from old card to rusty signs and love worn toys. Jessie followed closely behind and picked one of the toy tenderly: ” This belonged to my neihbour’s son.  They left straight after. There were balls of fire,  our houses were all gone in an hour.”

” It must hard to start again,” I sighed unhappily. I just wanted to enjoy my holiday, I left my own troubles at home, why on earth I had to listen to someone’s else instead.  I quickened my pace to come inside to pay for my tea and move on.

” It was hard, for a while, looking at it. But what else do you do?” Jessie caught up with me easily and let me in: ” Others left, I organised to have a new house trucked up from Down Ridge, about 20 km away.” When he moved back around the counter, he eyed me with a twinkle in his eyes: ” You wouldn’t let the blackened bushland muscle you out of your home of 23 years, would you?”

” I don’t know,” I was taken back by his question, although I could see in his eyes that he asked it many tourists before and enjoyed our confused expressions enourmosly. ” It must be lonely, I bet.” I answered finally.

” Not with you travellers stopping by to stretch your legs and wander around my outdoor gallery,” he chuckled and pointed at his thick, grey, dreadlocked ponytail-secured with rubber band: ” Look, what one Englishman taught me, I don’t need to comb or cut my loose hair any more, what an invention for a looner like me.”

I smiled suddenly embarrassed by my previous thought and he was quick to notice my expression as he continued: ” I bet you city folk are often more lonely than me here, you stick to yourself or your own demographic,  just tell me, do you have any friends in my age?”

I quickly shook my head and he laughed: ” You see and here you don’t get to choose who you interact with. You don’t necessarily like everybody, but you get along. You simply need anyone, a person like me or you, just passing by, to survive.”

Then he asked me to pick some trinkets from his pre-loved odds and ends collection and I eagerly picked his neighbour’s boy toy. I wanted to pay but he just waved his hand:

” Just leave something you don’t need any more behind, maybe someone else passing by will find use for it.”

On the way back to my car I spotted a couple of wallabies feeding on branches in the distance and Jessie pointed at them: ” The morning after, I went walking around the blackened earth and there were wallabies feeding on new green leaves shooting out quickly after the fire.”

He paused and I was ready to jump into my car when I heard him to continue: ” That was a real lift – just seeing them. From their point of view, the fire was just a glitch, one thing ends so another can start, you know, it is your bloody choice how you look at and live your life.”

I waved from the starting car and he waved back shouting: ” What’s the point to blame someone, something for your misfortunates, just move on and live your bloody life…”

If it wasn’t for Jessie, Never Seen would be just another corner on the road to nowhere…it taught me that you never know what waits for you just behind the corner and one more thing, I know it is time to leave my parents’ ghosts in a closet, where they belong. I can not releave or change the past, the blackened earth are full of new sprouted leaves. Life goes on.

WELCOME TO MY DREAMLAND…where truth and fiction blends…

where my past, present and future blend into a kaleidoskop of images. When I write, I take the basic ingredients of my characters from those images in my head. Some have a bit of me in them and others are not much like me at all. The places are real but my characters are fictional as I have to respect privacy of all the people I met in my life. There is a true link in every one of them...a thin thread of truth which binds us all together...people of my dreams from the past, I love so much...

My ancestors, the Western Slavs lived about 500 AD in the Samo's Empire (an agricultural-pastoral community. Their first state was the Great Moravian Empire in the 9th Century, where the agriculture was the basis of the economy. The coming of the Magyars and the annexation of Slovakia into the Hungarian state in the course of the 10th and 11th century slowed down of the Slovak development because part of the population was conquered and part fled to the infertile Northern districts. From the 13th to the 18th centuries in time of great oppression, serfdom, natural catastrophes 9fire, droughts, flood) or wars, occupations, raids by Tartars and Turks decline occurs and return to hunting and food gathering. The 18th century brought the enlightened reforms of Maria Theresia and Joseph II, the development of education, culture and rise of agricultural production followed. Serfdom was abolished in the middle of 19th century. The break up of the Monarchy and the creation of the Czechoslovakia followed in the beginning of the 20th century. Following two World Wars brought stagnation and depression. Before the First World War the rearing of sheep was very important and the soft sheep cheese was valued throughout the world. After the Second World War the greatest challenge was collectivization and socialization, especially in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. The introduction of mass collectivization in Slovakia was a very radical intervention causing deep, difficult to heal wounds in the body of Slovak nation. There was an effort to liquidate the independent peasant who owned his soil. Entry into a united farming cooperative was compulsory and who sabotaged the idea of building socialism was declared a class enemy and shot. It was a deep intervention not only into ownership, but also into the psychology of people and the moral sphere. To scare people even more, the Russian tanks followed... It was time, when I was born....I write about some of my experiences ....although not in order......good reading,love from Beata