There’s much to be said, and has been written, about the virtues of walking in nature. I’ve written about it myself, read about walking, and it’s something that I’ve always connected with writing.
This holiday break I spent a few days walking sections of the Great South West Walk, a trail in south-west Victoria that’s been developed over the last twenty years. We walked bits of it, day-walks and nothing too arduous, but memorable nevertheless.
Two things resonate me now that I’m back at home: the site of an wedge-tailed eagle making its way along the dune-line. We stopped and watched for whole minutes. There’s a poem coming, though I doubt I can outdo Hopkins’s The Windhover, which was in my mind over and over as I watched.
And, the long walk along the wild ocean beach of Discovery Bay. In the distance the sky was getting black and blacker, surely a storm was coming, and the white of the surf became almost luminous. In four hours on the beach we saw no other human beings.
Driving back from Beechworth, via Lake Eildon, I passed this scene of stillness on a cold morning on Lake Nillahcootie. I pulled over and grabbed the camera and a moment later another man pulled behind me for the same reason. We had a conversation, mainly about the need to stop and look when you see something special, and then went our separate ways.
Here’s a couple of the photos. The trees looked to me like ink on paper, calligraphy of a kind.
Another moment of stillness and calm beauty. Two swallows circling around the little jetty that juts out into the Estuary. I’m nearly finished a longish poem about a journey up the estuary and the beauty of all that, but I doubt I’ll capture that as well as the swallows did this morning.
After a busy time lately, it was nice to take a bit of time yesterday to walk in The Briars, a little historic homestead park close to where I live. I took some photos, looked for birds from a couple of hides and followed the line of Balcombe Creek back towards the sea.
I quite like the idea of walking the same place again, year after year, and seeing the fine and subtle differences. As Thoreau wrote: ‘Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.’ I have high praise for the local: from Gilbert White to Thoreau to the place examined in contemporary writers like Robert Macfarlane.
Went for a walk down to look at the bay after work tonight, with a strong easterly blowing almost straight offshore from the cliffs, making the bay look cold and blue, like metal, and swirling, eddying shapes on the water as the wind rushed over the cliff where I stood.
There was a boat anchored just offshore, just where the wind would have felt a little uncontrollable, and nobody seemed to be in it. Maybe they were diving off it.
Then, walking back, I was struck by the wind high in the gum tree and the sounds the wind made as it filtered through the leaves. I took some videos on my phone and put them together.