Tag Archives: carpe diem

Driving North- Photographing the Aftermath of the Australian Bush Fires.

No doubt, you’ve also experienced that mixture of excitement and disappointment on a long drive, when you spot something spectacular out the window, but are having difficulties finding somewhere to pull over safely. If you’re as desperate as yours truly to seize the moment in 6 x 4, the fear of missing out (popularised as “FOMO”)  grips you body and soul. You’re a possessed maniac just like that person busting for the toilet in the middle of nowhere yet precariously still strapped into their seat. Don’t you know that desperation too? You’re about to explode. You have to get out. You can’t wait any longer. The cry goes out: “Pull over!!!”

Sunset After the Fire's Been Through

That’s what happened two weeks ago when we were driving North from Sydney to Byron Bay via the Pacific Highway and we spotted the sun setting through the burned out bush. The sun was enormous, glowing like a ball of fire through the charred eucalyptus or gum trees. It was strangely breathtaking. I had to seize the moment, which was rapidly disappearing with the fading light.

Fortunately, my husband who was driving at the time, was sympathetic to my plight and pulled over without complaint. The photos didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped, and actually tell quite a different story now I look at them back home. After all, they contain so many signs of life and nature fighting back against the devastating impact of the fires. Indeed, we saw vast expanses of trees exploding in a profusion of fresh green leaves seemingly as a form of post-traumatic growth. My goodness. These eucalyptus trees are tough. Bloody resilient. The bush wasn’t dead after all.

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The family in front of the lens with me behind it. 

By this stage, the bush fires had been extinguished up North, but were still blazing fiercely on the South Coast. Yet, we still weren’t sure what we were going to find. Independently, Geoff and I have been up and down this road all our lives and since we met 21 years ago, we’ve driven up here at least once a year to see his sisters and family. So, while this stretch of the Pacific Highway isn’t quite an extension of our driveway, we know it well. We care about it, too, and it sent a chill down our spines when we heard that a fascinating time capsule to early settlement, a museum called Little Italy, was at risk. I’m sure I screamed out: “NO!!!” to the TV. If I didn’t, I certainly wanted to. The devastation has been catastrophic.

However, we were relieved and almost surprised to see that the bush had endured, persevered and overcome. Indeed, we saw kilometres of bush where trees were sprouting fresh green leaves, an almost freakish, furry-green regrowth, as their will to survive went into overdrive. Indeed, I wondered if this was a variation of the post-traumatic growth we can also experience following a traumatic event. I’m not a scientist so I can’t know for sure. However, on a personal level, I found it very encouraging and it certainly lifted my sagging spirits. After being confined to the lounge room at home to escape the menacing smoke, I’d watched months of bush fire coverage on TV. Indeed, I was seriously starting to wonder how much of our precious Australian bush would be left when we ventured further afield. So, I found these shoots of green such a relief. A restoration of lost hope.

Horses after the fires

Horses running from humans rather than the flames. 

We’d pulled over to photograph the sun setting through the scarred, burned-out landscape. However, while we were there a couple of skittish horses ran passed not to escape the fires, but from us. I madly clicked away and sadly didn’t do the moment justice. However, the makings are there. It doesn’t take much imagination to see these horses running from the flames. Much better in the imagination than reality, and I certainly don’t want to be around to photograph that. Indeed, I’ll leave that to the movies. Far too many animals have been lost in these horrific fires. I’ve seen enough. I just hope there’s some way our wildlife can bounce back like these trees and am grateful for the rain and for the incredibly generous donations which are coming in from around the world. They’re much appreciated.

There has been such catastrophic suffering. I don’t even know where to begin. Possessions can be replaced, but there’s the horror for many of the engulfing flames and smoke and many have lost their lives. There’s a post traumatic anxiety pervading all our communities. At a very basic level, just watching the coverage on TV is enough, but our population is relatively small here in Australia. Our friends and families were at the heart of these catastrophic fires, even if we were well away and not impacted ourselves. What is perhaps most telling, is that the smoke from these fires reached as far away as South America. That’s the other side of the world and a reminder, that we’re a global community.

Driving back home, we stopped off at Taree, where the fires hit hard. We saw the writing melted on road signs on the turn off and places where the fire had jumped across the freeway, showing just how bad it was. There was a roundabout covered in the charred remains of grass trees and it looked pretty bleak until my husband pointed out that fresh shoots were springing from the devastation. A keen photographer himself, he said: “that’s your shot”. Unfortunately, this time there was nowhere to stop, and that one went through to the keeper.

Have you been affected by the Australian fires? I’m thinking of you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Fish & Chips at Terrigal Beach, Australia.

Yesterday, I stopped off at Terrigal Beach on my way home from an appointment. Terrigal is only about a 30 minute drive away and an hour North of Sydney. Yet, it’s been over a year since I was there last.While we live right near a beach ourselves, Terrigal has its own attractions and I can’t believe we don’t get there more often. Indeed, yesterday was something of a wake up call. An urgent reminder to carpe diem – seize the day.

No doubt, you also know how it is. That it doesn’t matter how close you are to paradise, it somehow passes you by. Not necessarily through any active thought on your part, but more likely through busyness and procrastination, although there’s also plenty of scope for  full-scale avoidance.

Indeed, at the moment, even sticking my head out the back door only an arm’s length away, has slumped into Mission Impossible. Not that I’m depressed, anxious or phobic in anyway. For some reason, I just don’t quite seem able to make it. That is, despite holding Carpe Diem – Seize the day as my personal mantra.

Unfortunately, the reality is often anything but. Indeed, it’s more along the lines of… “Let go of the day. Let it flow away like spilled milk without even raising an eyebrow. There’s an endless supply of sand flowing through the hour glass. Better luck tomorrow. Or, maybe even next week. Or, even the week after that. Don’t rush.”

Sea Squabble

So, I am proud of myself for not only indulging in Fish & Chips from the self-professed “best fish & chips in NSW” (well, there must’ve been some award), but also taking myself for a walk. Getting EXERCISE!!! Indeed, along with all my other doings, I actually managed to clock up a respectable 3,629 steps or 2.4km. Way better than Monday’s 132 steps (must’ve left the phone at home) Or, today’s unimpressive 70 (Yes, I know it’s almost 1.30pm, but I’m still trying to get the motor started).

 

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Looking across to the Fisherman’s Co-op where we used to buy leather jackets when I was a kid.

Anyway, let’s just ignore the bigger picture for a tad, and just focus on yesterday. For anyone who even vaguely knows me, you won’t be surprised that I had my camera with me.  That, also explains why I walked the extra mile. You see, when I’m looking through the lens, I have no idea how far I’ve walked, where I am or even if I’m currently in grave danger. All I see is the shot. Indeed, even if it isn’t a biggy, I’m still seeing and thinking in 6 x 4 and the rest of the world does not exist.

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Terrigal Beach, looking North.

Terrigal was first settled by Europeans in 1826. John Gray, who was the first European settler to the area, called his property Tarrygal, after the indigenous Aboriginal place name, signifying ‘place of little birds’.

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Terrigal Beach in the 1970s looking South towards the Skillion.

As a child, our family used to rent a place in Terrigal or nearby Wamberal during the Christmas Summer holidays, when it was a much humbler version of the tourist resort you see today. Indeed, in so many ways, I wish they’d left it alone but there are always those determined to convert a place with such natural beauty into a monument to man.

As I said, I’m pleased that I managed to take this time out to bask in our local environment and although I’m feeling rather inert today, I am feeling the need to get the motor fired up again. The sun is shining. The dogs would be begging for a walk if they weren’t so busy sunning themselves while I’m tapping away indoors like a moron. What’s wrong with me? Why aren’t I out there? Especially, when I am so adept at avoiding the To-Do List which, at least in theory, is what’s keeping me here? Indeed, I am so close to being outside, that I could almost fall out of my chair into the sunshine.

Zac in the sun

Zack’s no idiot. He’s not inside on a sunny day. He’s out on his Pooh Bear blanket sunny side up.

Well, to be fair, I have actually been making calls and waiting for replies while I’ve been tapping away here. As most of you will agree, getting even the most simplest thing done, takes multiple steps each with its inevitable snags. Indeed, I’m perfectly justified  for feeling psychologically and physically stonkered (to use one of my Dad’s pet words).

Anyway, before the day completely goes up in smoke, it’s time I disappeared outside and found the sun.

Have you done something similar lately and made the most of where you live?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dusk: Day 3 – B&W Photo Challenge

Yesterday, I finally managed to nip down to the beach just before the sun had disappeared entirely, and the golden sand had descended into complete darkness. I know my mantra is carpe diem seize the day, but thanks to a weird sleep virus which has exacerbated my night owl tendencies, I am carpe nightum (or however you put that in proper Latin).

So, in my defence, I say: “At least, I walked the dog. At least, I did get to the beach and while it doesn’t need to be quite so dark to avoid the risk of skin cancer, it is a more sensible option than cooking myself under the midday sun.

Jogger Ocean Beach

Colour.

Our beach isn’t overly crowded outside the peak Christmas – New Year holiday period. So, heading into evening in November, there were only a couple of dog walkers stretching over quite an expand of beach. There was a soft lapping of something which could hardly be called waves against the shore and it would’ve been quite relaxing and melodic if I hadn’t been trying to get my B & W image when I’d clearly left my run too late. The magic hour had set.

Of course, Lady didn’t care. She was nose down sniffing and I kept a cursory glance out to make sure she didn’t opt for a swim at dusk without adequate time to dry off. She has quite a thick coat and is definitely NOT “quick dry”.

Anyway, it’s time to pass on the mantle for the next person to pick up the Seven Day Black & White Photo Challenge. Today, I’m handing over to  Geoff Le Pard who enjoys a good walk around London and might as well take his camera with him.

Best wishes,

xx Rowena

Why I’m Not Sailing!

Today, when our sailing trip with my Dad was cancelled due to strong winds, I discovered that even when you have a yacht, going sailing isn’t guaranteed and smooth sailing isn’t as easy as I thought.

Apparently, one of the first things you need to learn about sailing, is that just because you have a yacht or access to one and you’ve made plans, that there’s no guarantee that you’ll get out on the water as planned.

Indeed, it turns out that having a yacht is only a very elementary part of going sailing. Unfortunately, sailing is at the mercy of that greatest of vagaries…the weather.  Of course, you don’t want to take unnecessary risks. However, when you’ve been counting down the days and you can already feel the wind in your hair, it’s only natural to feel upset. Want to fight back.  Ignore the weather report. After all, where there’s a will there’s a way.

It’s good my Dad knows when to call it quits. Moreover, quite aside from risking lives, taking the kids out in rough conditions is counterproductive. We need each and every sailing experience to be a good one when they’re starting out. So, I had to be sensible and find an alternative to lessen the disappointment.

Today, we’d arranged to go sailing with my Dad. I had a routine appointment with my lung specialist in Sydney and sailing fitted in well afterwards. So, I’m sure you’ll understand that while I’m coughing away having lung function tests, that I was picturing being out on the water enjoying some smooth sailing and my disappointment when it didn’t happen. As we were driving back from the hospital, the wind was whipping through the trees and although my knowledge of sailing is pretty basic, it was looking like we wouldn’t get out.

Yet, I’m a pretty determined person and live that old adage: “where there’s a will there’s a way”.

However, you also need to be responsible and know when it’s time to think laterally and find something else to do…especially when the weather bureau is reporting 30 knot winds and making special, additional reports.

Clearly, it wasn’t the day to go out.

Yet, Geoff has the week off work and the kids are on school holidays and I didn’t feel like simply going home. We decided to stop off at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River on the way home.

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In the meantime, Dad was taking a few photos of the garden  and I decided  to retrieve the camera from the boot and go hunting. We’re just edging into Spring in Sydney. Lush green leaves are budding on deciduous trees, flowers are blooming and inspiration was everywhere.

My parents have a very established garden, which was initially developed by an avid gardener with then exotic plants. There’s a jungle of azaleas front and back and numerous camellias including the ginormous reticulatas, which Dad planted and more dainty sasanquas. Their garden also has quite a range of Japanese maples and there’s a stunning Crab Apple flowering by the front door at the moment.

If you are also seriously into photography, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I was walking through the garden looking through the lens, trying to pluck things out of the under and overgrowth, which would take on a life of their own in 6 x 4.

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A Twisted Fork in the Road.

I spotted bare branches with a maze of dark sticks silhouetted against the azure sky. I saw that proverbial fork in the road as the branches split and branched out but then as you moved out toward the twiggy ends, there was such a maze of sticks. This reminded me of what it’s like to get lost and how your plans can get so badly scrambled, that you get lost in the maze..where am I? Do I even know who I am?

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When your path becomes a jumbled maze…

Fueled by the strong wings, clouds were sprinting across the sky, whisking me out of myself and into their arms. Senses overloaded, I lay down on the grass using my camera bag as a pillow, opening the eyes of my heart up to the sky. White, flossy cloud streaked across the intense blue sky like trails of cotton wool. The leaves were rustling and chattering in the wind and various birds flew by.

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Scrumptious Clouds!

Indeed, while I was lying there I heard a “Scratch! Scratch!” in the undergrowth and a brush turkey was wandering by.

Despite all these “distractions”, I could feel myself melting into the grass and the full weight of life’s burdens being lifted from my shoulders. I can’t remember the last time I lay down on the grass and looked at the sky and stopped. Completely stopped…my heart rate slowing right down to R for rest.

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So, although we didn’t get out on the water today, I was able to experience the same sense of deep relaxation on land.

This is an important skill for a sailor to learn. After all, just like you don’t catch a fish every time, you can’t always get a sail. So, instead of succumbing to the disappointment, you’re better off keeping an open mind and finding other ways to carpe diem seize the day.

That is, instead of dwelling on the yacht which got away.

Have you ever been sailing? Please let your stories flow!

xx Rowena

Like Your Life Depends On It: Life Lessons from Dancing

Another great jolt to pursue our passions! xx Rowena

Fot some reason, this didn’t reblog properly so here’s a link through to the original post: https://sirenatales.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/like-your-life-depends-on-it-life-lessons-from-dancing-2/

Carpe diem seize the day all!

xx Rowena

Sirena Tales

The gifted, generous choreographer and dancer Robert Battle was spurring us to dig deeper in performing the movement phrase he had just taught us. Although I took his classes years ago, I can still feel the thrill of hearing him urge that “when you dance, you should move as if your life depends on it!”

The drama and sweep of that statement have galvanized me on more than a few occasions. But I confess that it took awhile for me to appreciate just how far-reaching the ramifications are for Mr. Battle’s fabulous advice.

Photo: Essennelle Studios Photo: Essennelle Studios

I was reminded of this again yesterday as I was buying a book about dance at a lovely independent bookstore. When the young woman who had been helping me was ringing up the sale, she paused, and suddenly asked if I am a dancer? Yes! What kind of dance? Contemporary or modern.

Her face…

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So, You Used To Be A Dancer? Life Lessons From Dancing (Reprise)

You might be aware that I recently took up ballet again…albeit at an elementary level. I am absolutely loving it and thought you’d enjoy this encouragement to put on your dancing shoes! xx Rowena

Sirena Tales

NIK_5824Ask [yourself] what makes you come alive and go do it.  Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”~~Howard Thurman

Folks keep coming across my path, voicing their passions along with their regret in not pursuing those passions.  So, I am running this post from the archives again, with some new photos. The original post, with many generous, thoughtful comments, is here . 

Sure, I’ve already reblogged it, but since the yearning for a more vitalized life continues to come up so relentlessly, I am repeating this reminder: DO WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE.

Not solely for dancers at all, this is for anyone who seeks a spur to vitalize.  This piece does also go out to the medical technician the other day who danced for 10 years and sorely misses it and the dance studio owner who confided that ceasing to dance for herself…

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Drats! The Sunset Which Got Away!

Check out this breathtaking sunset!

It all but escaped my snap-happy finger, while we were driving down to Sydney. As much as we’re inclined to pull over to immediately capture that stunning sunset, we had the trailer on the back. Moreover, due to the an accident on the freeway, we’d opted for the “scenic route” along the rustic and rather windy Old Pacific Highway, and couldn’t stop. Out of sheer desperation, I managed to snatch this shot through the windscreen and you too can enjoy water droplets bouncing around like ping pong balls, wrecking what might have been a stunning shot.

Of course, I know I shouldn’t get upset about not being able to photograph a sunset. There are, after all, much more pressing issues in our world, and it wasn’t like I was trapped underground and couldn’t see it.

However, therein lies the problem. I could see that sunset in all its technicolour glory and felt the call of the wild. Such an incredible sunset isn’t something you just see through your eyes, but also through every part of your being…mind, body, spirit and it somehow becomes a part of your very being. So, to be able to capture that, it’s a bit like sticking your bubble gum to the bed post over night. You can come back and relive the experience later.

I also enjoy sharing a little taste of Australia with you. Through even this less than perfect photo, you can still appreciate an Australian bush sunset with those towering gum trees silhouetted against the setting sun. You can also sense the vibrant intensity of the colours…molten oranges and yellows slapped across the sky like generous coats of paint. It looks so good, I want to eat it! Yum!

However, as much as I’m disappointed about missing the sunset, I must admit that I think it’s good for me to just to stand back and appreciate the bigger picture now and then. Take in the vast enormity of an endless sky. Feel gobsmacked! Awe inspired! Instead of trying to work out how I’m going to frame it. Shove it inside a 6 x 4 box to contain it. By trying to constrain the heavens and stick boundaries around them, they lose some of their magic. Like wild animals caged at the zoo, they’re still great to look at, but it’s not the same as seeing them in the wild. Or, experiencing a sunset simply for its intrinsic beauty without trying to turn it into something it’s not…a photo!

These two opposing views, however, bring me into conflict with myself. How can someone whose love of photography could be described as a chronic twitch, ever happily let a brilliant sunset go and simply let it be?

I don’t know but every now and then it happens. I spot something and don’t have my SLR with or my phone and I have that experience, albeit reluctantly…a lesson in savouring the moment…!

Meanwhile, could you please pass me a Kleenex. I still have a bit of work ahead on acceptance! I’m still thinking about the sunset which got away!

What do you think about savouring the moment? Is it better with or without the camera?

xx Rowena

PS: By the way, if you like a good sunset photo, here’s one I prepared earlier.

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Sunset Down the Road a few weeks ago.