Writer - Author - Poet
Writer - Author - Poet

The Big Smoke

The Big Smoke means a large city in Australian lingo or slang. Some say it stemmed from the Aboriginal people who used the term for any European settlement, in contrast to the “small smoke” of their campfires. Others assert it was a popular phrase used by rural residents in nineteenth-century England when they traveled to London where they could see thick smoke enveloping the city, primarily caused by the burning of coal. The Smoke or the Old Smoke or the Big Smoke insinuates the same thing: a big, hustling, and bustling city.

I just got back from a few days in the Big Smoke and although probably not as smoke-filled as the days of coal factories and wood-burning stoves, it was still filled with lots of activity, commotion, hurry, and buzz. Everyone seemed in a rush. Small trucks, big trucks, work trucks, small and large recreational vehicles, sports cars, fancy cars, and old cars, were all vying for their spot on the freeway. Traffic came to a halt when a fire truck, ambulance, or police car needed to squeeze by. Jets, planes, helicopters, and seaplanes filled the sky. It was difficult to find a parking spot at any of the venues I needed to visit.

I tried walking whenever I could but often it did not work out well. A construction zone blocked access to an adjacent street. A sidewalk was temporarily closed or there were no walkways to places I had to get to. I thought going out to eat at a nice restaurant would be a great idea, but eateries were packed and maybe it’s just me, but holy cow! Are lunches as pricey as dinners now?  

There were great moments, though. I had a wonderful visit with my daughter who cooked and drove me around the Big Smoke with ease. I enjoyed the cultural diversity and the manicured parks, as well as the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of cultural events, but it was all fast-paced and my few days in the city seemed to pass in the space of a heartbeat.

When I got home, the first thing I did was take a leisurely walk in the forest near my quiet rural home, stopping now and again to breathe in the cool air from the recent rain and count my blessings, seeing my life as half-full and not for a moment half-empty. The Big Smoke represents a lot of different things to the people in my life, but for me, after a trip to the Big Smoke, I always reflect on everything that is good and true in my life. Which is a lot.

“The secret to having it all is knowing you already do.” Anonymous

How did you find solace this week?


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