When I was a kid growing up in Woomera, my dad filled his weekends building a wooden boat. Ros-Lyn, he named her. Half of my name, half of my sister’s. 

I watched him on and off, this man in the desert building a boat. I didn’t think too much about what motivated him to do it at the time. It was just dad. Maybe others thought it was odd. Or pointless.

Then, by circumstance of fabulous coincidence, Lake Koolimilka filled up! And we sailed on the desert. Dad, Rosalie, Lynette, and Mum and my brothers; all together on the Ros-Lyn.

I remember it as clear as a bell – water, plants, birds, brightness. 

It was many years before I understood his determination and even fixation with the Ros-Lyn. And it was many years before I understood the exquisite privilege I had lived on that day. His dream, our joy. His fun, our fullness. 

Recently, I’ve been back on the farm where the Ros-Lyn is slowly returning to the earth. Lake Koolimilka might not be full, but my memories are. The Ros-Lyn. Still recognisable as a labour of love. Now in a lake of green; soon to become again the red sands… come the summer. 

The Ros-Lyn served Dad perfectly. He built a boat named after his girls and took them sailing in the desert one day. It is a metaphor of holding out cupped hands in the arid places.

We do things for others. We do things for ourselves. They may appear odd or pointless; however we do them because the gifts are brought not just to those others, but also to ourselves; and not just to ourselves, but also to those others. 

It’s the reciprocity of life. 

That day was truly a gift.

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