A BOX FOR THE MOON
CHAPTER ONE .
Northern New South Wales, 1865
With one last blow of his well-honed axe, the great red cedar let out a mighty crack. That sharp sound, of splintering wood, announced to the ancient forest that one tree’s last resistance against an antagonist had been broken. The axeman leapt down off his springboard and craned his neck to look way up the mighty trunk, to ascertain the perfection of his cut, the direction of the fall. He knew precisely where it would drop.
For a few long seconds the whole forest was suspended in a breathless silence, witness to the ear-splitting crash that would inevitably follow. Many heads turned towards the source of the sound. Soft furred marsupials, shiny scaled reptiles, many-coloured feathered creatures too, peering through the leafy mid-distance from canopy perches, staring between the lichen mosaics of other tree trunks, ogling upwards from the mouldering forest floor.
Jack Threader stood transfixed, head thrown back as he looked up forty metres of perfectly straight thick trunk to where the branches seemed to tremble for a second. Not a sound punctuated that momentary dance of leaf and limb.
`Waaaah!` the wiry wood cutter yelled as another crack cleaved the air, and the tree shuddered, teetered, and began to fall. ……
This novel is complete, but I am not yet satisfied with the editing process. It goes on. Nevertheless, I welcome any feedback. Here is the skeleton of this tale:
This is a three-generational novel set on the far north coast of New South Wales, Australia. The interwoven stories explore the different relationships of the characters with their environment, and how they confront their individual issues in the cultural context of their times.
The first is a novel covering three different generations of settlers on the far North Coast of New South Wales, exploring their relationships with their environment and the cultural context of their times.
The first main character is Jack Threader, an indentured convict who has escaped with his companion from violent forced labour near Sydney to the anonymity of a harsh life as a cedar cutter in the rainforest valleys in the 1850s. A loner, he errs when cutting a huge tree and is trapped under the fallen giant for 4 days, watching his life ebbing out as he slips deeper into insanity with each passing of the moon. Finally he is rescued by two local aborigines alerted to his plight by their capacity to ‘read’ the landscape.
The second is a nephew, John Threader, who has settled the land as a returned soldier following the horror of Gallipoli. Working his land is an escape from the nightmare of his memories of the war and his incapacity to fit into peacetime life in the city. His wife joins him when John has created a primitive farm nucleus and together they pioneer the pastureland he has wrested from the rainforested slopes.
The third character, Peter Threader, is a ‘refugee’ from the city in the nineteen seventies, part of the ‘back-to-the earth’ migration to the countryside in the wake of the anti-Vietnam demonstrations. Full of dreams and ideals, he and his partner must confront the realities of their choice of ‘the simple life’.
The three stories of three ages are woven together through the hallucinations and illuminations of Jack Threader’s experience while trapped in the great rainforest.