Buried Things

It’s been a recurring thread for me in my writing and thinking: the idea that there are things hidden or buried, or forgotten and still intact beneath the surface of things. It’s there in some of my earliest writing, the very title of my first collection, Lost Things, and in images like the abandoned picnic place, the lost highway, Atlantis etc.

So, of course I’d be fascinated to see, last Friday when I walked to the beach after a busy week at work, the fragments and wreckage of past structures that had emerged over the winter at my local beach.

I’d seen glimpses of early constructions before; perhaps a pier, or foundations for a jetty of some kind, but nothing like these full and intact structures that had been beneath my feet all along, all these years.

I took these photos to preserve them, before they’re buried again.

 

 

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Abandoned picnic places

Picnic spot

I’ve always been fascinated by those places that time and history has passed by: Industrial archaeology, the stone circles of Celtic Europe, or the smaller, more intimate places, derelict houses or picnic places that have been by bypassed and abandoned.

Near where I live, and cycle regularly, there is a short stretch of the highway that was diverted off perhaps thirty years ago now and replaced by a newer streamlined bit of more modern cornering. The original stretch of highway, that we used to travel on as kids, maybe 400 metres or so long, was just cut off and left to grow over.

Sometimes, riding in the area, I like to take that old detour and explore that old niche. Included in the off-cut was a roadside picnic table and stools, now being overgrown in grass and emerging saplings. Here, I like to think, families would pause in their travels, unpack a thermos and some sandwiches and take a rest. I blogged about it already in 2011 in a post about The Lost Highway.

It’s still falling apart gently. And, I was reminded of it recently when I saw a recent article on WebUrbanist about 150 Vanishing US Rest Stops, which a photographer had been documenting. An admirable project I thought. I heartily approve.

Below, another photos I’ve taken over the years on that theme, a drawing and a poem too. Seems that these ideas keep bubbling up in lots of versions.

Picnic table

Abandoned picnic table

Picnic Place

These families with their picnic baskets,
their kids weightless on the swings
legs flashing in the sun,
think they invented this place,
think they found this place near the bridge
by the estuary where the creek flows into the sea.
They think they found this place this summer evening,
but we were there.

I walk from the swings and the families,
their wine glasses and picnic plates
their kids racing to the jetty,
the last sun shining in their hair,
someone putting on a jumper against the cold.

Up ahead, up river somewhere,
I can hear the beating of wings.

Top: Picnic spot, near Mildura, VIC. Photo: Warrick
Middle: Abandoned picnic spot on ‘the lost highway’, Mt Martha Photo: Warrick
Bottom; Picnic table, iPad drawing. Warrick

The Yellow Flipper

One of the things I like to do, when I have some time to myself, is to walk along the beach. Sometimes poems come, other times I take photographs or just enjoy the light.

Yesterday, when taking some short videos, I came across a lost object near the shore in the water. A yellow flipper. It wasn’t a watch, but I was reminded of an early poem of mine, “Lost Things”, partly about finding lost things at the bottom of the sea. “These lost things still exist”. You can find that poem on my website or you can see the yellow flipper in this short video. Or do both!

Maybe there’s a new poem in this too.

The Lost Highway

I’ve been riding past this little spot for quite a while now, usually in all kinds of pain as it’s three-quarters of the way up a decent hill and looking down and looking down off the road and catching a glimpse of an old picnic spot. It’s a bit cut off from the highway now, a part of the old road and from the bike (but not the car) you can see the table and chairs where this little layoff used to provide a resting place for a cup of tea out of a tartan thermos and views back down to Dromana and Arthur’s Seat.

So today, since I’m on holidays and riding by myself, I thought I’d sneak in past the ‘Road Closed’ sign and take some photos of this lost place. Once you lift your bike over the sign, the short road in is in surprisingly good condition and I enjoyed a few minutes taking some photos (the Iphone 4 camera is a blessing because it’s a decent camera and always with me). I even sat down for a moment at the seat by the concrete table and imagined this place when it was a lovely little place to stop. When? I’d say more than twenty to twenty-five years ago since the new highway was put in, and the table and chairs are still there, waiting for someone to drive in, and get that cup of tea and some biscuits out of the boot.

Road Closed

The lost highway

The picnic table in the bush

A place to sit.

Blackberry vines and a table

The view back towards Dromana and Arthurs Sea. The diggers seem to have gone quiet lately but they’ve been busy reshaping this landscape for some time now.