I love rivers. A couple of years ago in China I had a spare afternoon and a driver, and no-one else had any better ideas so I asked if we could see the Yangtze River, which wasn’t far away. So we drove down there, drove over and drove back. I didn’t get out of the car and certainly didn’t taste the water like I didn’t taste the water like I did when I came to the broad majestic Shannon years ago. Anyway, I took lots of photos and today found them again and spliced them into a movie. The sci-fi effect is linked to the odd dislocating experience of this surreal river crossing. I’m glad I’ve seen it.
Sometimes you step into a place that seems kind of strange. Or warming. Or sombre. Or something. Places have emotional connotations for me; it’s part of the joy of travel to find some of those places that resonate with you. Or re-visiting ones you know.
So, I was interested to find this new little place not far from where I live. My normal walks around the Briars were closed because of the Easter holiday so I walked a different way and found this new creek, and new landscape. Very still and seemed full of story somehow. I captured about forty seconds or so on the video below. I expect poems!
Most of the year for me is spent split between working in Melbourne and getting down to the Mornington Peninsula on weekends.
So, one of the things I like most about the holidays is the chance to be in one place for a while, and re-connect with some of my favourite places like the Briars.
I’ve blogged about the Briars before (do a search if you like) but I never get sick of the place, and the way the creek defines it as well as its sense of history.
Today I did the longer 4k loop and also walked out via the new Harrap Creek track for the first time. I’ve captured some of the moments below, but one moment I didn’t capture was seeing a big red-bellied black snake asleep by the side of the track. The trouble is, once you’ve seen a snake on a walk, you see them everywhere, in every shadow, root, branch or piece of broken bark on the track or just off it. It tends to take the meditating mind off the poetry a bit. Though, it did make me think, ‘have I ever written a poem about a snake?’, like D.H. Lawrence did? Looking back, it seems I have only had one go at it, this poem that was published in *Eureka Street* in 2011. Maybe it’s time for another go?
Late Walk Along Jerusalem Inlet
Rows of trees knee-deep in bracken
trunks green with soft moss
all dead or dying
a shovel shaped pit
the sound of water
some Mirkwood path
to a wide green place
where a house was
broken rocks and bricks,
beside the broken oak tree,
a non-allegorical snake.
Below: The view from the bird hide
The prophetic sign: this was exactly the snake I saw half an hour after reading this sign.
Signs of former use; old fence posts from when this was farmland.
Common farmland birds poster in the bird hide
Spring Paddock Dam
Below: Balcombe Creek
Nice to see it flowing after a bit of rain this week.
Below: Spring Paddock Dam
Listen carefully for the frogs.
Nice to get down the coast early enough tonight for a long walk along the edge of the bay. More wintery than it should for this time of year, but a nice SW breeze coming off the bay which these birds seemed to be enjoying. I watched them for a while soaring and spiralling around a small bay, never once seeming to make any effort, totally graceful. I took about a minute of video on the phone.
Substitute the word ‘poem’ for ‘story’ in this article and video from Krissy Clark below and it equates pretty closely to how I think sometimes about my writing, and my poetry. In a way it’s a mapping of the place in poetry, maybe not on the grand scale in the way that Hardy or Yeats or Frost mapped their world, but my world, localised, specific and layered with meaning for me.
The stories here are factual histories: who lived here? what happened on this place in history? They are reminding us of the layers of meaning. My places are more imaginative or made-up or responsive to me. They normally aren’t about what happened here before (though I wrote a poems about the Aboriginal people who lived and ate mussels on what I thought of as ‘my’ beach) but about me passing through these places and responding to them.
I thought I could/should create an interactive map of my region; with clickable links to poems that focus on that particular moment. Maybe I will. Meanwhile, I very much like the ideas of the past in this project.
Another short video from my walk at the beach the other day (see Yellow Flipper!). I thought the way the water seemed to swell and have an energy invisible and all its own was both hypnotic and somehow soothing, so I’ve looped it together a few times. To be played in times of stress!
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.