Tag: nature

The places I go …

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It is akin to a dream, this dense clump of trees unfolding before me, reaching sharply into the sky. As I walk through the forest under canopies of palms and eucalypts and a discord of screaming birds, my feet arrive at a bog. I’m at the lip of a lake I cannot reach for the rain that has distended the ground. Perhaps Jacky can take me tomorrow so I can see where it splits from the earth and drops away.

There is life above, around and below me. The swollen ground silently objects under my boots and as I lift my feet, it plumps up like a pudding.

The air is slow and dense from woodsmoke, and it anchors me to the moment. I crush leaves between my fingers; that stain of scent not leaving the folds of my hands until I bathe later that evening.

With the sun caught in the canopies – splintering shadows onto the ground as though they are dancing a jive – the screech of a cockatoo and flurries of parrots embroider the Piccabeen palms. Their silver mottled skins are grooved with what looks like inverted feathers, as though someone has taken the time to stencil each one.

Early evening yields to the call of the kookaburra, cackling at our stupidity and the irksome way we do not love them every minute of every day.

Diamonds scuttle across the water as the day reaches into dusk. The milky way splashes across in silver and white – a smattering of light and relief in their spilt majesty. The sky cradles a waning moon.

Being here, it takes time to breathe at a slower pace; to let my belly soften and sink into my winter bones. I find myself in a world where it is becoming more difficult to disconnect from the goings on of humanity, my country, my community. There is a deep well within me of wanting to be free from the destruction, the war, and the suffering I have no control over. But then I realise for the millionth time that I control nothing. I can but try to go forwards in what seems to be the right direction. I can shepherd and steer myself, yet control does not belong to me. It never has.

I am finding myself enjoying growing older. Not only because I never expected to, but with the growth itself. I am assured as a human being, though never would I believe that I am particularly ‘good’ at any one thing, although I am on my way to becoming an exceedingly keen listener, and that itself is an art. 

Another art (and something I am not particularly good at) is writing. It is a pursuit I will never be great or even exceedingly good at. If I ever become half the writer I have yearned to be all my life, would that be a paragon of happiness? How am I ever to know if I am anything over than average unless someone tells me differently? And even then, can I bring myself to believe them? In all likelihood – not a chance.

With age comes wisdom and truth. Some are fraught with despair, while others have a far more convivial pulse. I remain unconvinced that absolute truths do not exist, although these things often come down to perception.

Breaking my bonds with the city, I ‘go within’ as Jacky calls it, and reach back into the folds of myself I have forgotten or allowed to lapse. I come back to breath, firing my body in the sun. My lungs expand; each lobe bristling with each seemingly bottomless breath. I readjust the way a spinnaker does downwind. Silence is my ballast.

As I come to see my senses as a decoy, I’m carried towards a deeper understanding of who I am, where I am in the world and how I came to be here. I temper my body, but do not become weary, and there is a far greater element of not needing answers – to embrace the mystery and come home. Should books and music, baths and tea, shadows on the wall from the moon, and the odd storm be all I had for company, I would want for nothing. For there is equanimity in the quiet, and peace in patience.

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Where in the world are you, Carmen Sandiego?

Life. It gets in the way. That’s why I haven’t blogged for three months because there’s been a lot going on. For the last month or so, I’ve been down with the lurgy (the flu), but after two courses of antibiotics, probiotics, lots of vitamins, good food and rest, I’m on my way to being back to full steam ahead with my year.

Exciting stuff is happening. I’ve been asked to be on the organising committee for next years Spiritual Care Australia conference which will be on the Gold Coast. As a pastoral carer who identifies as ‘spiritual’ but doesn’t belong to a specific faith group, I was so heartened to be invited. I am yet to make it to a meeting because I’ve been unwell, but I’ll make up for it in the months to come.

I cut my hair off last week. It’d been falling out at a rate of knots (ha), and having had it cut shorter, I seem to have stopped shedding. Just like that. It feels strange to be so short (yeah, I know it’s still long, but it was ridiculously long). I’m feeling … fresher. Yeah, that’s it. Fresher. Younger too, which is interesting considering I’m forty this year. I took this this photo after I rolled out of bed for my hairdresser. I know I’m looking a little grey.

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So, here is what’s been happening with me …

Making: Crocheting my first blanket. There will be crying Nicolas Cage style, fist pumping and gallons of tea. My maternal grandmother who taught me how to crochet when I was a little girl would be chuffed.

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Cooking: Chicken soup and green smoothies.

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Drinking: Tea. Endless cups of tea. And kefir. I cannot get enough kefir with a generous dash of honey and cinnamon.

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Wanting: A cabin in the woods/hinterland.

Looking: At cabin porn (there’s a theme emerging, yes?). Clouds at sunset, too.

Dreaming: About toasting marshmallows on the burn pile at the farm.

Playing: Diabetic Wheel of Fortune.

Deciding: What the fuck to have for dinner.

Craving: Sweet milky tea, liquorice and normal blood glucose levels (which are incompatible with liquorice)

Wishing: I was living in northern NSW. I feel between worlds. Or like I need a bridging visa or something.

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Pissed: That I caught the flu and it’s still affecting me a month later … Get the fucking fluvax, people.

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Enjoying: My growing collection of minerals. Or crystals, if you want to call them that.

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Waiting: On more words to come. I know they’re there.

Liking: The unfurling of cooler climes. It was a long, hot summer.

Wondering: If I will ever get this novel finished … #yesiwill

Loving: My new balcony chairs. They are epically comfy.

Considering: Spinning wool, falconry and starting my own religion. The latter would be far more lucrative.

Reading: ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Lars Mytting, ‘Gathering Moss’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer; ‘Konmari’ by Maree Kondo; ‘A Ted Hughes Bestiary’ and ‘Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine’ by Doctors Strehlow and Hertzka.

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Buying: Nothing. I’m Konmari-ing the fuck out of my life. If it doesn’t bring me joy, it goes to charity.

Watching: I just watched ‘Dear Zachary’ and it made me want to cry forever and ever. It’s the most powerful film I’ve seen for some time and will leave you reeling (and needing therapy).

Hoping: That my friends Andrew* and Chief get donor lungs soon. They both have CF and  have had way too many false alarms which is cruel, disheartening and emotionally exhausting. IT’S A GOER FOR CHIEF ON THE SIXTH CALL UP! He’s doing *incredibly* well 🙂

Pondering: How amazing life is being clean. I never thought I could feel this happy. Seriously – have I EVER felt this way? Halcyon days 🙂

Marvelling: At how music makes me feel ALL THE THINGS.

Cringing: That my Jeep needs a new gearbox. Oh, the horror.

Needing: A capsule wardrobe.

Puzzled: That I don’t ever drink coffee in winter.

Questioning: Why so many crap writers get published. I guess mediocrity is on trend.

Smelling: Not much. Since having the flu, my sinuses have been blocked, but today my olfactory senses happily returned and oh! The smell of toast, freshly laundered sheets and chai simmering on the hob – glorious.

Following: My gut. And Marie Kondo. She’s rad.

Wearing: Mecca lip balm. I cannot get enough on my mouth.

Noticing: That I really need to clean my windows.

Knowing: My purpose.

Thinking: I have SO much to do.

Seeing: An overabundance of cranes across the city. All very phallic.

Believing: In fairies and the little people we can’t always see.

Admiring: Anyone who lives with a poo bag.

Believing: In karma. Because I have to.

Sorting: Through my possessions and giving a lot of stuff away. Liberating much?

Getting: Organised to launch a big community project that I can’t tell you about. It is super exciting and slightly terrifying knowing that a friend and I are putting ourselves on the line for what we feel is for the greater good.

Gathering: Resources and support for said project.

Cultivating: Kindness, candida (sexy, right? Thanks antibiotics!), and garden ideas.

Bookmarking: Where do I start? Psychedelics in dying, extreme knitting, cob houses and the small house movement, India, birds of prey & falconry, granny squares, aromatherapy, epigenetics.

Disliking: Where my neighbourhood is heading. Think big corporates moving in, mass gentrification and hideous high-rises that hopefully no one will want to buy. I foresee a glut.

Coveting: A spell that makes me write 10,000 words a day, knowing full well that no such thing exists. The only way is ass glue and a warm teapot within reach.

Opening: Bottles of kefir like they’re going out of fashion.

Giggling: At finding feathers at the most serendipitous of times. My mantra of ‘look up, look down’ has been serving me well.

Feeling: Ready to replant my garden with the help of Mum’s green thumbs.

Snacking: I wish it was medicinal liquorice, but it’s raw veggies with cottage cheese. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Helping: Shit stir the big developers who are trying to ruin my community and create change by lobbying, petitioning, opposing etc.

Hearing: Fleet Foxes and the noble chatter of crows.

Trying: To spend more time offline and in nature.

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(image from https://nostalgichobo.wordpress.com)

Thanks to Pip at Meet Me at Mikes for such a cool list 🙂

*Sadly Andy died a few months after I wrote this. He will be eternally missed.

Haiku at the hospital

Waiting. I do a lot of it. Instead of people watching or reading, today I wrote down these during an emergency clinic appointment. I’ve been a little generous with the traditional 5,7,5 form of haiku. After all, I’m no Basho …

Brooding black cockatoo,

beak smooth like old rosin,

honeyed and forgotten.

*

Tawny frogmouth,

cowering in her loves absence.

Angry and sedated.

*

I hear our love.

Decibels on the wind,

tired limbs in the morning.

New year pastoral

Loose udders and mucus plugs

signals new life on the grass and clods of dirt.

Lilies dance on water the way flies hover over fresh meat.

A heifer drops its snout into the trough to drink –

not greedily, but more delicately,

sucking on the water in a docile way – fickle for a beast.


Pebbles, clumps of wild grass and cow shit

pattern a track to the paddock where a sabre calf

feasts on the berm of the grid;

lifts its head, turns towards its tail, then stares at me.


Unsteady of his feet, he ambles to his mother

her cries echoing through the valley –

carrying that sound like some heavy burden.

From the verandah, I hear the shaking of wooden spoons in pots.

It’s time for breakfast – sweet, sticky black rice.

Patterns of women

Girls in short shorts;

legs like shotgun barrels

sequestering any kind of desirability that

youth and beauty are prerequisites to relevance;

an auspice for being.

 

Flying high over an echo,

the girls want not to be dead heroes as they amble

through gutters choked with locks of hair

from the children they will never see.

 

Hands bunched in pockets,

they stand outside their local museum of purgatory

as a concierge would.

Gales of laughter rip through idle air;

fainéant in their falls of sound.

 

They seek the moon and shun the sun

and eyes dash about like hunted hares

waiting to be shot in a wood of time lost.

 

Though the ticking hand of life is a hair-trigger,

they are fond of predicting when they will fall off the edge of the world;

their pink legs swinging, skin a galaxy of scars,

singing, I am the verse: bleed, stitch, repeat.

 

But they are mothers; they are animals.

And animals are women

with their swills of tears and breasts piled high;

cauterised souls, brains braided from too many pills.

They would sooner crawl into the sun than fall from the tree.

 

One walks the hem of earth, shutting off the lights

readying for the tacenda that will come.

Not today, she says. Perhaps another time.

 

I have:

fought my own shadow of the Shibboleth

descried the call for a goon

cast my eyes upward to see the branches of winter trees,

mottled with snow like a convivial pulse having fallen

from the sky with an empty wind not far behind.

 

For now, you must swing low; scooping fistulas of memory

to shake the tree with the eagles nest.

Knowing there is no holiday for the dead

(for it hurts to walk into a chapel)

that stepping stone was never made for your feet,

for we were always going to be hurt by the things we never saw coming.

Eating beans on Sunday

I chew this vitamin rod with fresh haste,

with molars that rub and pattern a paste.

With a curl of bean between hub of thumb and nub of index finger,

my mouth corkscrews and I fox away time thinking

I should’ve cut my teeth on diamonds or tin.

 

Loreena chants from Morocco,

I assemble hypotheses on how and why and peck, peck like an hungry gull.

Cold-blooded zephyr envelopes blonde body boat —

all milky, bare and breasty, goose-bumpy pulpy flesh.

 

Transfusion of vitamin D into my hide.

Where are you, coffee skin?

I see out the day – this torpid blandness –

and I walk away with a bleached shell/pale pelt baked in thirty-seven degrees.

So Celsius.

 

In my youth, I baked the fat of my back into a skin ripe for a tannery.

Peeling the dermis was a sisterly celebration –

sloughing off in sheets as though throwing me clear from my body.

 

As I sit with my legs coiled under me, sipping bergamot and bargaining with genetics,

the dog feeds on equally green fodder.

Apocalyptic billows bustle in and levitate.

Puffs of ashen knurls like ribboned haired schoolgirls –

(their hanks of flat-ironed hair and Kafka playing in their hearts)

hold and fold when thunder rolls.

 

Sparrows flit through boughs of thick figs,

while the dog dreams of wolves; of sniff and growl, teeth and fleeting death.

Pheasants dance around vanilla blossoms, seeking out new flavours –

tails sharp as a hairpin, they tuck their feathers away from the

terrier that keeps chalking up free feeds.

 

Ducks launch north, creating a flight of memory.

Mosquitoes fling themselves up and out of the mangroves

as the waterline frowns in its indifferent lapping, looping rhythms

like clots of time dropping away like second chances.

When silence is deafening

‘Silence is safer than speech’ – Epictetus

Silence. Do we ever truly know what it is? What of the white noise that sweeps over our everyday lives, or the incidental noise that punctures the air? What does silence look like? This photo I took today is what silence looks like for me, out here. Thousands of miles of a seemingly silent landscape. It’s what that lies underfoot; what the earth bequeaths us when we least expect it.

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It’s going to take a few days to ‘acclimatise’ to the silence. It always does.

The sky turned it on tonight, but I’m holding out for some wicked cloud formations over the coming weeks, all of which I plan to share with you.

Another glimpse of silence. The earth opening up, as though it wants to take me somewhere. Not like Alice into the garden, but to take me through the arteries of the land that lay beneath my feet. These cracks by the homestead are small – delicate and polite, even. The crevasses in the paddocks seem to invite you to sink into them, as though they want you to disappear into them.

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We need rain out here. We need rain yesterday. We need rain last week. There hasn’t been any good, solid rain since March. It’s dry. Not as bone dry as I’ve seen it, but dry.

We went for a wander tonight, trying to find en emu one of the dogs had attacked and dragged through the fence. We failed to find it, but it must have scarpered to stumble and die. The dog had had a really good go at its neck, so it was mortally wounded. This is country life. Life and death.

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^ Bird on a wire ^