The hotel tower was red. It stood glistening and gleaming in all its borrowed red-light jewels – calling softly “paint the town red tonight”.
Red and effervescent, the tower shone like a torch- a column of energy blazoned against the jet black night sky.
It hovered like an overly tall dancer – full of passion and promise -poised on the shore ready to cartwheel across the bay.
It intrigued me. What a clever idea to get the city into mid-winter festival mode by transforming key structures into red show stoppers. I certainly felt like painting the town red as a result.
We hurtle towards our destination
hemmed by clumping hills
Entering the gorge
we skirt the river
to hug the bare-faced stone
that walls us in
to the very end
the river closely –
to the very end
Arriving at last
As the sun slowly lowers itself in a sheen of orange, the scene at the inlet is other-worldly in its peace and natural beauty.
The quiet waters of the inlet move insistently to shore, blown reluctantly into waves and ruffled like crocheted lacework, to hit with a slap and splash – over and over.
Bonsai-like paperbark trees emerge curiously from rocky ground to stand disorientated, like drunks caught in the headlights, unsteady and contorted into strangely whimsical sculptures.
Birdsong pervades the twilight air, from sweet chirping tweets to the cheeky chattering of the honeyeaters, who flit like arrows on GPS from tree to tree. Long-legged herons beat their way steadily across leaden skies, like heat-seeking missiles fixed on their final destination.
The ocean roars and thunders in the background like an orchestra below the stage, a cacophony of salt and wave…sand and shore – in a playlist stuck on ‘repeat’.
Ghostly reflections of paperbark trees haunt the edges of the inlet, while curious kangaroos pause, pricking their ears to listen. All will soon be still and silent, when the inky blackness of night arrives.
This year it’s a hard one – what word should I choose to encapsulate what this year could be? What word would I like to live towards? What one word should I choose…? You see, that’s the point. So much of the last two years has not been about choice. It’s been thrust upon us. The uncertainties. The panic. The grief and loss. The fear, and smell of fear – even permeating the sanitising glass of the television. This pandemic has transformed life as we have known it – turning a Cinderella story into that of Frankenstein.
After tossing up words like perseverance and resilience, I still felt uncomfortable about living that way through another year. It did not sit well with me. I could not countenance a challenging year of having to bend and flex like a reed in a pond, holding my head above water, seeking the sunshine.
So, I choose instead to seek the good in the year ahead. I choose to celebrate the kindness of family, friends and random strangers. I choose to see the good in people’s faces and actions. I choose to welcome what comes with a ‘glass half-full’ perspective. I choose to live this coming year with my one little word – gratitude. That is my choice.
Nestled in the
crook of the arm
of the beach –
through the shallows.
Submariner of the deep
from the sands.
We groaned with disappointment as we drove up the dirt track to our favourite tea spot, only to see a woman carrying her ‘picnic’ basket out of her 4WD and placing it heavily onto the rough wooden table. This was our spot. This was where we always had a tea break on our camping trip down south. This hidden lakeside spot was a long-forgotten and seldom-used bush site a long five kilometers from the back road that we always used. Miserably, we climbed out of our vehicle as they carried yet another ‘picnic’ basket and placed it on the ground beside the table.
Strangely, my husband called me over to them – and reluctantly, I went. What a surprise! Inside the ‘picnic’ basket, four of the cutest little joeys sat tucked up, heads poking out of their man-made ‘pouches’, as their wildlife carer, Adriayn fed them their bottled milk. Up close and personal, their little ears twisted this way and that, sensitive noses twitching in all the new smells, as they rubbed the tiniest little black paws across their faces, as they waited their turn.
Short grey fur was beginning to cover their lithe bodies, and I could not have been happier to be unexpectedly sharing a picnic spot in the bush with a wildlife carer, taking her lunch break with her brood, as she made her weekly 250 kilometre mail run to outlying farming communities!
That’s life in the bush for you, with all its unexpected eccentricities!
“The whales are back in the bay!”
I knew it before I heard the answer to my question. People straggling off the whale watching boat had that sloppy smile and dreamy-eyed look of those who’ve witness the awesome mysteries of nature!
“Two young ones – over there!” she said, and I felt it too – that silly smile sliding unbidden onto my face.
Our boat harbour is the last man-made launching point before the Antarctic – 6 000 kilometers away. And to think these gentle giants, ‘dinosaurs of the deep’, travel all that way to birth in our bay! It truly is a celebration.
The chair spoke to me. It was nothing special, grand or new. It sat quietly at the back of the shop, out of place beside the newer, functional pieces around it. It did not scream out at me, “Pick me! I’m what you need!” But something about it drew me closer, to tentatively stroke the velvet seat and watch it gently rock. Softly, I heard its voice, “You know me.”
Like a key unlocking a memory from deep within, I saw myself as a young girl on holiday with my family at a guest farm, excitedly running into the Kid’s Barn filled with dusty books, ping pong table, piano, games and …chairs just like this one! I’d snuggle into its velvetness, rocking gently as I escaped into a book, dust motes dancing in a shaft of subtle sunshine at my feet, before racing out to ride a horse or have tea on the verandah with my family as we soaked in the countryside. It was always an escape.- a place where time stood still.
Nostalgia oozed over me. I sat. I leaned back into its velvetness. Springs bounced under me as I stroked its smooth wooden arms. I closed my eyes and smiled contentedly as I gently rocked “Yes, I know you well,” I whispered.
Looking for that little window of magic means recognising the moment when nature opens your eyes and says –
Take a good look, before you miss it!
Imprint the experience in the hard drive of your mind.
In that moment – do not blink but freefall like Alice into Wonderland. Channel your inner yogi as the world spins around you and BREATHE!
Achieving that clarity of focus, honing in like an over-zealous camera man with his thumb pressed on the zoom lens highlighting every detail, as you ‘place your attention’ carefully through that tiny magical window while filtering out all the white noise – that is mindfulness.
Nature is mindfulness in action. She throws precious moments up into the air like jugglers’ skittles, and if you’re ready – you’ll catch their beauty and heart-stopping brilliance as they fly past that magical window.
It’s all about awareness. It may be the smell of eucalyptus leaves wafting on sunbeams down to earth. It may be pure wonder at the perfect symmetry of a leaf you’ve picked up, or just a quiet smile at the indecision of a hitchhiking bee hunched on the glass of your windscreen.
Open your eyes next time you’re out in nature – and take a mindful look around you.
Sitting above the beach while my husband swam, the beauty of the scene was not lost on me. The ocean oozed silvery-blue as it wriggled and nudged against sandy fringes while a black speck swam laps, cutting like a hot knife through the liquid blue. Jutting into that scene was a ramshackle wooden jetty, hardened pylons pinning it down as a hydrophobic kelpie paced its length, tongue-panting for his owner in the waters below. Mesmerised, I too strode its boards and …what a revelation! As if with a magic key or pin number, the ocean lid peeled back to reveal a blinding white sea floor, intense aqua ripples and swaying seaweed. I stood transfixed. The ocean swam in me…until, sated, I returned to the shore.