No photos, but I need to pay tribute to my son's mob – my granddaughter, my grandson, their mother, and my son. They are all wonderfully knowledgeable, smart and curious and expand my world with their company.

My granddaughter is 15. She has an agility and wisdom I haven't managed in seventy years. When we have lunch together, we talk about books and movies, and being a teenager. She tolerates my techno out-of-touchness, albeit with some amusement. She goes off to spend a few days at the coast with a friend's grandparents, and comes back with a triumphant op shop haul. She models it with elan and twirl, and turns my second-rate videos into a neat iMovie. She complains because she likes to pre-plan a shoot and go for special effects: my gumby shooting doesn't allow this. I've watched a few of her movies, and they have flair: one for a Japanese project at school was quite surreal. Late afternoon, she dresses in black and goes off to her job waitressing at an Indian restaurant. When she was two, she crowded round the hoofs of a horse her mother was medicating showing absolutely no fear, and one day disappeared on the acreage they were living on: she just followed the dogs on an adventure along the creek and eventually turned up at the stables. She rides, plays guitar, sings very sweetly and mourns being a good girl.

My grandson (11) is all bone and muscle. He wins ribbons for swimming and a medal for academic achievement. He shoots a basketball with accuracy, handles a soccer ball with skill, and twiddles and fiddles with everything within reach, inventing games. My own bones ache as I watch him perching in air supported only by his elbows, and trampolining expertly, somersaulting and corkscrewing until I'm dizzy. When I take him to the hairdressers, he navigates me to a salon amongst the trees, and then navigates the hairdresser to a style that satisfies him. I try to shout him lunch, but he insists on paying his way. He is mightily offended when he cops a bird dropping on his new cap while we eat chips on the grass under power lines.

I admire my son's partner immensely for so many things I lack. She is very skilful with animals and knows a lot about all sorts of creatures, not only horses and dogs. She has an expansive collection of animal skulls, which she displays lovingly: a kookaburra with the beak sheath intact; a wombat from the Eurobodalla bush; a koala skull, and koala claws which are drying out on the mosquito coil holder on the deck; an albatross head found on Potato Point beach last Christmas and still being defleshed; and deer antlers and skull, picked up recently at a Tamborine op shop. She can roof and make wooden furniture. Se is interested in all sorts of things. We spent a long time discussing the rights and wrongs of toilet paper orientation and the amazing tattoo-like patterns lightning uses to mark its victims.

My son is a scientist with Queensland Water. His job is to monitor the health of waterways, which up till now has involved extensive field work in the local rivers and streams. He also has a management role, and I particularly enjoy talking to him about this, since it's cognate with my pre-retirement work. He is a passionate surfer and talks about surfing with a kind of reverence, regretting that his own children don't seem to have such a consuming passion. As a child he played violin, and later guitar, writing his own music. He regrets the passing of this creativity as it droozles away in the marshlands of work and family. We talk at length one evening over beer and prawns while the rest of the family is busy elsewhere. The frightening dare-devilry of his youth has diminished but he still likes adventure and relishes time spent in the bush or in the outback.