13 August 2012

Black Billy Brew

Ahhhh yes - the brew.  There are many moments that stand out in my memories from the hills. Cold morning starts, breaking clear of the bush onto open tops, the summit, discovering a cairn in the mist and good nosh are just some of them - all worthy of a blog or two.  But the back country brew, especially made over an open fire, ranks up there with the best.  Best of all using an old black billy. Here are a few writings, a photo and print images created to celebrate the brew.


About the billy rim
swirls beechwood smoke,
the surface rolls, receives
some bark and ash,
fist of tea
and time to brew

the handle-angled rim
spills steaming amber
into hungry mugs

all this and more
recalled today
in the aroma of clothes.

Canterbury Brew


      Canterbury Brew

      Once again
      on riverstone hearth
      flood whitened
      finger bones of trees
      feed hot flames
      about my black-skinned billy
      rolling to a boil
      in the smoke-blue air
      of an empty valley.

And finally a haibun, a Japanese form involving prose and, in this case, a haiku.


The time is right after a morning of packing up-valley and now you’ve found the perfect grassy flat between two tongues of bush – in sunlight.  You allow the pack straps to slide from your shoulders and feel the ease.   While she unpacks the billy and makes her way down to the water you gather together the makings of a fire, dried fern and grass, snappy twigs of beech with their brown leaves still attached and some larger water-worn dry sticks.  She returns with the water, pure as you expect it to be.  You arrange stones for the blackened billy. Soon the match flare and wisp of smoke becomes a fire.  Later you admire the glow of red embers and the movement of water and tea leaves within the billy. You shift the brew onto the edge of the ashes where it slowly rolls.

                                    Across the stream
                                    you observe trees
                                    collecting sunlight

So much alchemy, gold pouring from your billy.

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