The Big Issue : Edition 434
thebigissue 7–20JuN2013 21 It was a wonderful experience wandering about, making small discoveries along the way. I’d find fascinating natural objects like driftwood, shells, feathers and bones. I’d also find all sorts of man-made objects: fragments of plastic, wood, glass and metal that had washed up on the shore. These would mostly be flotsam and jetsam: fishing gear and buoys, but also cans and bottles. My grandfather taught me skills such as how to catch and clean fish and eels, how to split and chop wood, how to row a dinghy and operate a motorboat, how to hunt and skin rabbits, how to use a knife, axe and gun... He taught me a lot about the sea and the bush – the dangers, as well as ways to survive. These lessons set me on a course that developed into a deep love of nature. But mostly he helped a shy, awkward boy develop self- confidence and resilience. Some of the things he taught me, like how to hunt, I gave up doing a long time ago. I took up a camera instead of AUSTRALIAN ETHICAL SUPER IS THE ONLY FUND THAT DOESN’T INVEST IN COAL AND COAL SEAM GAS EXTRACTION Australian Ethical seeks out positive investments that support people, quality and sustainability. It avoids investments that cause unnecessary harm to people, animals, society or the environment. Go to australianethical.com.au to join or call 1800 021 227 for more information. super, pensions & investments Australian Ethical Investment Ltd (‘AEI’) ABN 47 003 188 930, AFSL 229949. Australian Ethical Superannuation Pty Ltd ABN 43 079 259 733 RSEL L0001441. A PDS is available from our website or by calling us and should be considered before making an investment decision. Australian Ethical® is a registered trademark of AEI. a gun, but the stalking skills he showed me are still helpful when searching for wildlife. I became an avid bushwalker, photographing and writing about the bush and creatures I have come to love. Now my children share this passion, and I have passed on to them the skills my grandfather taught me over the years. My grandfather, William ‘Bill’ Pickett, died in 1973, aged 67, when I was 20 years old. I went to see him several times in hospital, which was distressing, but I really wanted to spend time with him, as I knew he didn’t have long to live. The last time I saw him alive he was in a lot of discomfort. The doctors had given him drugs for the pain, but he was still in distress and told me he was tired of the hospital and the needles. He said he felt like a pincushion; said he’d had enough and just wanted to die. My grandfather had taught me many things about life and living. I hope my children and I can pass on these insights to the next generation, so that the link with the natural world that my grandfather had is not lost. The experiences that elders like my grandfather pass on are a vital connection. It is important that we keep alive the stories of our past and our families’ history; it’s the essence of who we are, and where we come from. If we lose these vital bonds, we’ll also lose a valuable part of our identity. I will always remember the simple pleasures I experienced at my grandfather’s place, and the precious moments I spent with him. On a recent visit to Tasmania I stood on the shore at Lewisham. All those cherished memories surged through my mind. So long ago, yet still so very vivid. After all these years I still miss him. » Steven Katsineris is a freelance writer. He lives with his family in Hurstbridge, on the northern fringe of Melbourne.