It’s Winter here. While all too easy to complain about the cold, and sink into a melancholy barrenness, I challenged myself to look out for flowers, colour and inspiration when I went on my regular walk around the Mt Penang Parklands near Gosford, North of Sydney. While Winters here are generally fairly mild without any sign of snow and ice, it’s still a season of slumber, hibernation and low expectations.
Early on in my walk, I was delighted to stumble across the golden Candlestick Banksia. It felt like a proof of concept that there’s always something positive, you just need to seek it out and not only focus on doom and gloom…or what’s missing. You just need to keep your eyes open and be careful what you filter in and out.
That said, I must admit I was disappointed to see the state of the water lilies which were in the last throws of seasonal death. When I was there last, they were just past their peak, but I had such a wonderful time photographing them and I even filmed them swaying around in the wind. They were magnificent and almost seemed to come to life. However, while the lilies were no longer beautiful in the conventional sense, they were still quite photogenic with their striking wiry forms, even if they weren’t instantly recognisable in the photos. A bit of intrigue and abstraction is good.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to get out for more walks and I do try to mix it up a bit. It’s also really good to be able to get outside again after months and months of rain. What with avoiding crowds and shops etc to avoid covid and not being able to exercise outdoors for such long stretches of time, I noticed an impact on my mood but even more so on my neurological functioning. I’ve been actively fighting back against that, but it hasn’t been easy and I’m finally starting to feel I’m turning the corner.
Anyway, please stay tuned as I have more walks to come. Meanwhile, have you been on any interesting walks lately? I’d love to hear from you and put a few links in the comments.
This weekend I have the absolute privilege to share something incredibly precious and rare with you…sunshine. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s but a rare intermission in between our months and months of rain, but that makes it all the more special and I guess I should’ve been out there today to make the most of it.
However, I went for a magnificent bushwalk yesterday to my favourite little spot overlooking Pearl Beach and across to Palm Beach and all of Pittwater. While, it’s not Sydney Harbour, the views are almost as breathtakingly beautiful and from my vantage point, I feel like I had to all to myself. I didn’t need to compete with all of Sydney for a vantage point…only the birds!
How was your week?
Mine was good, but fairly busy juggling family commitments, while getting stuck back into reading two novels by Australian literary giant, Ethel Turner, which are set in World War I and so also crossed over with my research there. I managed to finish: The Cub, which was published in 1915 and sees seventeen year old John leave for Gallipoli after his older brother who enlisted in England, was killed in action fighting in France. However, this forms only a fraction of the story, and the thread is picked up in the second novel in the series: Captain Cub. However, the books focus more on the home front than the war itself and the sagas of two families.
The reason I was binge reading Ethel Turner last week, was that I’d booked into an Open Day at her former home Woodlands in Killara, and I was trying to wake up my dormant brain cells so I could sound at least somewhat knowledgeable when I introduced myself to the speakers there, which included two of her Great Grandsons. However, it didn’t really work because all that happened was that I had all this Ethel Turner stuff in my head in a jumbled fog, and nothing was coming out in neatly defined packages, and especially not the whole grail where you can sum her prolific and profound writing output up in a single word and be the ultimate unrivalised genius on the subject. Or, at least that’s what distilling facts into a single word is supposed to do. Personally, I don’t feel it would do her justice, but when you’re trying to enter the realms of the academic elite, you need to play by their rules not your own.
Anyway, in the end I decided not to go. It was going to be at least a one hour drive, and they were expecting huge crowds, terrible parking and I couldn’t help conclude that I could well pick up covid. After two years of caution, it seemed stupid to throw caution to the wind. Moreover, I saw the doctor on Friday and in what sounded like a prophetic warning, she told me that more people have died from covid in the last six months in Australia than the previous two years. So, while the politicians might be telling us we’ve switched the clock back and returned to an almost normal, the stats and medical folk are telling a different story.
Meantime, while I had my nose stuck in The Cub from 1915, our daughter, “Miss”, posted a clip on Tik Tok and unlike any of my posts here on WordPress, her clip went viral and as far as I know has now had 2.5 million views.
Well, you might ask what attracted such a response, and fool like me, you might actually believe that her video was especially meaningful and required many hours of careful planning, creativity and construction. However, you’d be mistaken. It was a very spontaneous and erroneous piece which she’d put together during her Nursing TAFE course. The school has a small quasi hospital set up and she filmed the patient dummy in bed, and then turned to film her friend swinging in the swing chair. It lasts all of a minute, and while funny and quirky, doesn’t justify that many views, especially when my philosophical musings which really might improve someone else’s life, barely attract enough traffic to fill a lane let alone a super highway. I have been wondering lately what it means to live in a society where people can read, but choose not to. This could sadly be the result.
Some days, you need to tell Winter it isn’t Spring. However, today it’s the reverse. Now, we’re into Spring, it’s cold and the heater’s on again. Of course, yours truly who was quickly jumping on here before going on a walk, is now re-evaluating the state of affairs outside and considering hibernation instead. I think I might’ve mentioned “tomorrow” before.
Yesterday, was Father’s Day here. It wasn’t the most exciting Father’s Day we’ve ever had. We couldn’t even get out there and go shopping due to lockdown let alone get down to Sydney to see my dad. Our daughter also worked at McDonalds all afternoon. However, I did manage to order Geoff a great t-shirt from Tasmania. My friend was telling me about how she visited this place that handmade spoons when she was down there, and while we were chatting on the phone, I Googled the place. I thought very seriously about buying one of their spoons for our 20th wedding anniversary this Thursday. However, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, and so I just went for the shirt. Geoff is very handy, and while he isn’t into wood turning, he’s always fixing something at home and using tools so it seemed like a great gift.
Anyway, we had a bit of unexpected theatre with the packaging. The t-shirt arrived very well camouflaged inside a cute little cardboard box so I decided not to interfere with it and give it to him as is. However, what I didn’t notice until he came to unwrap it, was that it had been sent in a re-used box from Lush Cosmetics. They make handmade soap which we’re usually really allergic to. On top of that, even those of you who don’t know Geoff very well, would spend a minute with him and know he just not a Lush kind of bloke. The other angle to this story, is that Geoff often wraps presents in deceptive boxes, especially computer castoffs from work. So, he’s giving you a $20.00 book, but you think you’ve received a $2000 laptop. So, it was quite apt that Geoff’s t-shirt would come disguised as fancy soap albeit without the scent. He deserved it.
Meanwhile, we are still in lock down. Overnight, 1, 282 cases were reported, which is pretty shocking for us when we were used to having no cases at all. I don’t know whether this increased case load was inevitable and we were just lucky it didn’t hit sooner. However, the way I see it, we were given this incredible gift of being covid free, and we needed to maintain and protect that with zeal. To have the gift and break it, to me is a greater loss. We knew what was at stake, and I wouldn’t say we’ve blown it yet but we certainly need to play our cards very carefully. We also need to know that those who are playing our hand, are being cautious and yet at the same time trying to get us out of this wretched lock down soon. I know that might sound like mission impossible with one leg going forward and the other leg in reverse. However, perhaps that’s what wisdom’s all about – a precarious balancing act. Not only that. I think it also takes listening to advisers and a diverse range of opinions, and above all else, individuals who don’t believe they have all the answers themselves. Consultation is important, and it certainly isn’t a sign of weakness.
I managed to get out more last week. Geoff and I went out to check out the local wildflowers, especially the Waratahs, which are conveniently growing beside the road not far from here. These magnificent grand flowers are our state floral emblem and are very rare in the wild and such a treat. There was also an abundance of these captivating golden flowers from the pea family. They glowed like lightbulbs in the sun and were pure magic. So, you could say I was rather blessed, and I am definitely most thankful, but I still miss my close friends and my mum and dad, aunts, uncles, cousins – a wealth of people I always took for granted. I don’t anymore.
Meanwhile, I am rapidly advancing down the pathway towards obsession. It’s a quality not unknown to myself, but I’ll blame lockdown for the latest development. I’ve become absolutely obsessed with Australian author, Ethel Turner, who wrote Seven Little Australians and 39 other novels in addition to editing children’s columns in several newspapers. Seven Little Australians was published in 1894 when she was 24 years old and so she’s hardly current. Yet, that doesn’t mean that she’s not contemporary in that way that very perceptive people are. She seems to have an incredible insight into people, and characterization and the challenges they face. One of the issues I find particularly interesting is how she writes about death and characters facing death. I don’t know about you, but I’ve prayed for people who are dying and some of them pull through and others don’t and it does make me ponder about the point of it all. So does young Nell in the sequel to Seven Little Australians, The Family At Misrule. So much has changed in the last 120+ years. Yet, we’re still human and growing up is still a complicated and challenging business. Anyway, my obsession is on hold at the moment pending the arrival of my eBay packages. Don’t you just love eBay especially in lock down?!! I’m not the only one here eagerly awaiting packages either.
Well, that’s about all I’m allowed to share.
I hope you’ve all had a good week and things are going well!
My apologies if you were wanting to go on a bear hunt- especially for koala bears. Instead, we’re off on a Waratah Hunt. The Waratah is the stunning red floral emblem of NSW, and they’re rare as hen’s teeth in the wild. However, they used to be endemic to our local area on the NSW Central Coast in Greater Sydney, and there’s a patch of them beside the road on the way to nearby Patonga. So, off we go. I’ve even given you a map, although it’s probably not much good to you, and you’ll need to consult the oracle.
By the way, if you’re one of those task-focused A to B types, you’d better leave now because we’re not just checking out the Waratahs. I’m a firm believer in what John Lennon said “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. Moreover, too many of us live our lives through blinkers, losing sight of the rich diversity of life around us. So, while we’re here, you’ll also enjoy a luscious smorgasbord of Spring wildflowers, and even a few carbonised gum trees.
By the way, let me remind you we’re still in dreaded lock down here. In fact, all of New South Wales is currently in lock down, and we need to wear masks when leaving the house, excluding exercise. It’s been about 2.5 months for us now, and this weird way of living is becoming the norm. Hugging a friend is a capital crime, when it used to be such an integral part of me, and so many of us. However, as usual, there are always winners and losers. No doubt, this tightening of social boundaries has been a relief to many introverts, who are glad to see the back of us beastly random huggers.
While hugging beyond your household is out, as long as you’re not in the red zone, you’re as free as a bird as long as you’re exercising alone or with members of your own household or your significant other. So, in a literal sense, I’m not really locked down at all. I just have to stay away from people. This was okay for a while, but it’s wearing thin. I’m really getting to the point where I’ve had enough of the view. I want my people back within arm’s reach – and not just one at a time either!
Yet, having said that, I am till making the most of our beautiful outdoors and wanted to share my wildflower walk with you. Of course, the Waratahs were the jewel in the crown, but they had some stiff competition, and almost lost out to masses of golden pea flowers which lit up like lightbulbs in the sun. They were absolutely amazing and there were so many of them. I felt so happy…even joyful.
It’s that weird contradiction, isn’t it?!! The darker the shadow, the brighter the light. I was staring at these flowers with my eyes out on stalks fully drugged – especially with all that luscious golden sunshine all around me. Hello! It had been a week since I’d last ventured beyond my letterbox. I hadn’t been feeling well in a physical sense and a bit achy. Nothing serious, but enough to keep me home enjoying my research and pinned to my chair by the dog (I’ve taken to calling Zac the Demotivation Manager as he’s seemingly hard of hearing, and makes it quite difficult to stand up and get out of my chair).
As beautiful as it all is, it still feels weird to be able to kiss a waratah and hug a burnt out gum tree, but not a friend. I can’t drive an hour down the road to visit my Mum and Dad and see them face-to-face, let alone give them one of those filthy germ-transmitting things formerly known as a hug. I celebrated my birthday with friends and family via zoom, and this week we’ll be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary the same way. I was wanting to have a party to celebrate something, anything. I have been sick for so many birthdays and this year when I’m well, we’re in lock down. I’m not happy, Jan!
However, I also have to acknowledge that the reason why I’m so well, is because I’m isolated, wearing masks, and hand sanitizing with obsessive compulsion. We get our shopping delivered. The measures to protect me from covid, have also kept colds and those dreaded chest infections away.
I hope you enjoyed these flowers as much as I did.
How are things going in your neck of the woods? I hope you’re going okay.