After the tragic and inexplicable loss of two of our best friends I’ve been finding some solace in seeking out the natural and the wild places. Not truly wild perhaps, and very much on the edges of the city and suburbs, but mostly untouched, and uncrowded. I’ve been lucky enough to be on leave from work so have had some time to walk and think. There’s something about the nature of walking that is both meditative and therapeutic, especially walking in nature. I’ve written about that before as have many others. I also enjoy cycling, for the harder physical exercise and the social side, but when you’re riding a bike you have to concentrate on that. Walking is different.
So, I’ve been walking some of my old favourite walks on the Mornington Peninsula, mostly by myself, but sometimes with friends. And it’s helped a lot. I usually take my camera, so here are some of the images from the last couple of weeks. Poems are coming, particularly one I’m working on about entering the Estuary at Mt Martha and coming into that world out of the shoreline.
For someone, like me, so obsessed with water and rivers especially, one of the highlights recently has been a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia that included three days travelling and and around the Mekong River delta, and a full day on the boat up the river, crossing the Cambodian border and heading to Phnom Penh. I’m writing this in Saigon, on the last day of the trip, ready to fly home tonight, and already thinking back to some of the great things along the way.
I’ve been to Vietnam once before, and enjoyed Hai Long Bay, but this was a different kind of journey. It was fascinating, I nearly said mesmerising, to sit that long day in the boat and watch the river-bank flow past and the landscapes of rice paddies and rice factories, of empty fields and distant hills, roll past. It was the best kind of journey; almost hyptnotic. And I couldn’t look away, despite the heat and the glare and all that. I took lots of photos, on my Canon and on my iPhone, and some of the iPhone ones are included here.
I’m looking forward to going through the nearly 1500 photos I’ve taken in the last two weeks and put some of the more interesting ones here. I’m also hopeful that somewhere a bit further along the line, there might be some writing that comes out of this river journey.
One of the things I really like is how reading leads to writing, which leads to more reading and connected reading, and more writing. Another thing I really like is learning from my two daughters who are doing different version of arts and literature degrees at the moment, re-discovering things I haven’t read for a long time with them and having new things revealed.
This week one is reading the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales and I dipped into the book sitting on the front steps in the Autumn sunshine and read pretty much at random. One story I’d never read before, and struck me powerfully, was The Brave Tin Soldier or the ‘resolute’ tin soldier in the version I read.
The story contains such powerful and archetypal images, the disfigured soldier, the beautiful twin-other, the journey into liquid darkness, being swallowed by a fish, a troll in a box, transfiguration by fire etc. that I was amazed that so much could be contained and compressed in such a short time. It was almost too much.
I’ve just begun reading Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, and his work on the intimate space that is the house, the image of the hermit hut, the light in the window, the sprinkled lights from a village in the distance like a constellation, the first steps to the attic, I’ve found connected to some of the images I’ve held dear for a long time. I spend half the time reading and half the time double-underlining in pencil. I’ll certainly post more on text later, but those key and elemental images, in Bachelard and in the Anderson story, seem so powerful that they are somehow beyond cognition.
And I enjoyed this (1940s?) cartoon version on youtube too!