I've been to Young, in central-west NSW, for a cousin's funeral. As I drove to Young I was acutely aware of the accuracy of the now-cliched description of Australia in Dorothea Mackellar's poem - that we are a country of 'droughts and flooding rains'. It was raining as I left Sydney and the radio was a constant flow of information about the imminent dangers from floods in Queensland and Northern NSW. But as I drove further west the country-side changed from green to the gold of stubbled paddocks and dried pasture-land.
The grey clouds of my photo brought only a few spots of rain. Not enough to please the farmers.
The cousin whose funeral I attended is the first of the cousins of my generation to die. It's a significant marker of passing time. He had a mild intellectual disability and had lived a sheltered, very private life. He was steadfast in his Catholic faith all his life, so that the requiem mass with its well-worn ritual and predictability seemed a perfect last marker of his life - even to an unbeliever such as I.
Afterwards there was tea and sandwiches (and later, beer and wine) and gossip among the cousins who are now spread around NSW and whose last catch-up with one another had been the funeral of an aunt from the previous generation of relatives. One of my cousins is compiling the family history of this part of my family and took us to see the gravestone of our earliest Australian ancestors in the Young cemetery.
Thomas (1807-1877) and Catherine Joyce (1811-1871), my great-great-grandparents, came from County Kilkenny in Ireland to join their three sons, Thomas, Edward and Patrick who had already settled near Young. I don't often catch up with members of my family of origin, but it's always very reaffirming of my past when I do.