I am so glad to still be here. Every day, I do my best to see the colours. I take note. I breathe them in.
From ‘How it Feels to Float’ by Helena Fox
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, I know. I want you all to know that I have been thinking of you, and I have been thinking of posting. There just hasn’t been room inside my head to get to it.
The first groundsel flowers of the season (Spring is coming)
But when I read Helena Fox’s words in the Acknowledgments section at the back of her wonderful novel for young adults, How it Feels to Float, I wanted to pass them on. Because no matter how crammed my head — my brain, my mind — feels at the moment, I, too, do my best to see the colours, to breathe them in.
Blue winter sky
The photographs in today’s post come from a walk I took in the scrub a few weeks back. I hadn’t wandered through the scrub for a while, and I haven’t made it back since, but those moments were precious. I am still breathing them in.
Other people’s words about … what’s important (or not)
I found a studio where I could practise a particular kind of semi-cultish yoga; I sweated on my purple mat for ninety minutes to pounding trance beats, drank smoothies in the vegan cafe, relished the feeling of freezing sweat on my cheeks when I threw my coat on over my leggings and walked in the snow to the Q train.
Maybe this will be the year I’ll learn to stand on my head, I thought, maybe a headstand is the thing I will accomplish in 2014. I thought about it a lot, like a headstand was a thing that was important.
From ‘This Really isn’t About You’ by Jean Hannah Edelstein
If only I’d known. That’s the feeling Jean Hannah Edelstein is describing in the passage above. In her case, these words applied to a period in her life when she didn’t yet know that she had Lynch syndrome, a hereditary condition that predisposes her to developing cancer later in her life.
If only. If only. Who hasn’t said that to themselves, at some point in their lives? If only I’d known, I’d have focused on other things. If only I’d known, I’d have made different plans. I’d have done more; I’d have said more; I’d have tried more. I’d have been more.
Don’t tell me you haven’t ever thought that.
It’s been a quiet couple of weeks over here in my nook of the world, as I continue to try to find my way in the freelance world. I don’t know whether I’ll manage to make a living from freelance editing, in the end. But on tough days, uncertain days, I remind myself that at least I’ll always know that I tried.
Which makes for one less if only in my life.
And meanwhile, in my spare time, I’ve gone wandering beneath grey skies, and blue skies, and cloudy skies, and clear skies. Because there’s no hint of an if only whenever I’m out wandering.
When the run does its work, I will become lost in its beating heart.
We run on.
From ‘Running with the Pack’ by Mark Rowlands
Today’s photos come from a run I went on in early September on a day when the first faint hint of spring was in the air.
The course I followed took me south along Aldinga Beach; then eastwards, into the Scrub; then north, along a grassy path that skirts the boundary of the Scrub, between the vineyards and the bushes.
At the end of that grassy path, an elderly couple were standing, leaning against the wooden fence. The man greeted me as I came closer, and called out, ‘Where have you come from? Where does this path lead to?’ And so I stopped to chat to them, describing how to get to the beach from where they were.
The last part of the run took me through the wetlands, which is where I pulled out my camera at last. The pictures show the landscape, but they don’t convey the sounds — frogs croaking, a hidden moorhen squawking wildly in amongst the reeds.
And they don’t convey the feeling of the sun on my skin, either: warm and sweet and new, the way the sun always feels in the first, early days of spring.
‘I felt I was a caterpillar changing colour,
moving from one species of leaf to another.’
From ‘Warlight’ by Michael Ondaatje
In the passage above, the narrator is an adolescent boy on the cusp of adulthood; the story is, among other things, a story of his passage into the adult world.
I love the image Michael Ondaatje uses in this passage — not the stereotypical image of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, which would have worked, but this more intricate, layered, thoughtful image of the caterpillar … still a caterpillar, undoubtedly, but a caterpillar that changes as it moves from one world to the next.
I don’t have any photos of caterpillars, but I took the pictures accompanying today’s post in the Aldinga Scrub during the week of the winter solstice …
… a time of year when we all, to some extent, mark the passing of time and of the seasons, and of the ever-changing natural world about us …
‘ … We can be like sisters,’ she says. And then she freezes.
I smooth my hair behind my ear. I look at the snow.
‘I didn’t … ‘ She leans forward, cradles her head in her hands.
And I think of how time passes so differently for different people. Mabel and Jacob, their months in Los Angeles, months full of doing and seeing and going. Road trips, the ocean. So much living crammed into every day. And then me in my room. Watering my plant. Making ramen. Cleaning my yellow bowls night after night after night.
‘It’s okay,’ I say. But it isn’t.
from ‘We are Not Alone‘ by Nina La Cour
Some people in the Western world — most people, perhaps, if you take at face value the world we see portrayed on social media, and on TV, and in the ads — live big, busy, crammed lives, like Mabel and Jacob in the passage above. They go overseas on holiday. Borrow money to buy houses and cars. Renovate and redecorate. Eat out at restaurants. Drink lattes with their friends. Bungee jump. Skydive. Buy new clothes each season, colour their hair so it doesn’t go grey, replace their smartphones with the latest model. The words vibrant and noisy come to mind. They are not the same things, and yet it can be hard to tell the difference, sometimes.
Me, I live a quiet life. A small life.
Partly, this is of my choosing, and partly it isn’t. Partly, it’s because a small life, a simple life, has always appealed to me; partly, it’s because that small life found its way to me a long while ago, and foisted itself upon me. And partly, too, the simple truth is that it’s difficult, when you’ve started down a small, narrow track, to turn around and retrace your steps. To find yourself out in the open. To start again.
Most of the time, I’m okay with this. But sometimes, like Marin, the eighteen-year-old narrator in the passage above, there are moments when it isn’t okay, after all.
Those moments pass. They do. But I think they’re worth acknowledging, every now and then.
‘When you’re walking the view shifts and changes.
Walking’s a form of hope.’
from ‘The World Without Us‘ by Mireille Juchau
I wasn’t expecting anything special on my most recent walk in the Scrub. It was mid-February, a warm Sunday at the end of a warm week, after a very warm January. I figured everything in the Scrub — bushes, birds, animals — would be going through what I always think of as mid-summer somnolence.
But things in the Scrub were thriving. Passing sea box bushes resplendent with red berries (above) and sheoak trees whose branches were clustered with woody fruit (below), I walked south, towards the little lagoon just behind the boundary fence that runs along Acacia Terrace.
Damselflies skimmed the (somewhat scummy) surface of the water, and a pair of ducks paddled amongst the reeds in the lagoon. As I followed the curve of the bank around to the other side of the pond, I saw a family of kangaroos lazing in the shade of the nearby bushes, one of them poised upright, ears pricked, standing sentry.
There was a bush in flower that I’d never seen before, too — I think it was a hakea, though I’m not entirely sure. Its white flowers reflected the bright summer sun so that the petals seemed to glow.
And just outside the Scrub, perched on an upright stump by the side of the road, a little dragon caught my eye.
He (or she, I’m not sure) was very still, so still that I thought at first he was an oddly shaped twig sticking out at the top of the stump. We regarded each other silently for quite some time — I, fascinated, he, less so — before I turned to go.
I swear I could feel that dragon’s eyes on me all the way home …