Windy afternoon

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.

There may even be a poem in it.


Walking in nature

I’ve spent the last five weeks or so travelling, in England and Scotland mainly, doing lots of walking, thinking and some writing. The walking has helped a lot, even though I’ve come back with a sore knee which I think was due to all the steps on Arhur’s Seat.

I’ll post some more about this later, but the two most memorable places for me were the Lake District, with its wonderful walking and Wordsworth connections and Skye (see below) for the sheer beauty of the landscape.

Walking in nature is refreshing, reviving, consoling and inspiring. And, even if it makes your legs sore, or because it does, so so important.

Skye, Scotland

Walking by the bay

Refreshing the spirit

First day of the mid-year holidays after a busy term’s teaching, finishing up with lots of report writing and deadlines.

So, nice on a cold Saturday morning next day to walk along the edge of the bay from Mt Martha to Mornington and enjoy the wind and the bay in my head.
Too windy to ride I decided and, while I like getting out on the bike, there’s something more contemplative possible when you’re seeing the landscape at walking pace. I took some photos along the way and blended them into this short movie to start the holidays.

Water and rock

After a busy term, it was great to get out of the city for a few days and re-acquaint myself with water and rock. Plenty of water actually, as it rained for pretty much all of the time we were in the Grampians. Still, we did manage to find a few hours for a long walk up to The Pinnacle, a popular place to look back over the valley and Halls Gap.  It was also good to spend some time working on some writing, with the rain falling down outside.  Here’s some photos from the trip; maybe some new poems too coming along soon.

Water and rock

Bullaces Glen Loop

Wonderland Loop Walk

The Comfort of Water

I suppose I was poetically pre-destined to really like this book: a walking journey up a river from the sea to the source. Local, reflective, meditative, walking as pilgrimage and a creative act.

Maya Ward’s The Comfort of Water traces the Yarra River from Port Phillip Bay to its source up in the mountains; a twenty-one day walking journey that upholds the local as the thing most prized. Yes to that!

And there is lots to like here, the celebration of the place, the recognition of the past in the present (particularly the indigenous connections) and the simple beauty of the concept itself. Start at the sea and start walking upstream until you can go no further.

As the Australian review said:

This book belongs to a genre that runs back through Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau in America, and the peripatetic tradition of romantic poetry in Britain. It is seeing a revival, as Mark Tredinnick, author of The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir, suggests in his introduction to this book.

Nature writing, until recently, was associated with a dissenting politics, characterised as a subculture. Now, due to global warming, it seems increasingly mainstream, an ideological avant-garde in the endgame of Western industrial societies.

I’ve written a lot about rivers and streams, they’ve been in my thinking for a long time and in my small way I’ve walked and mapped my local streams in my writing. What disappointed me in the end about the last quarter of this book though was that it became too much about the walkers and not enough about the walk. I liked the natural history, the details of the river itself unwinding through the changing landscape rather than the internal reflecting, theorising and eventually proselytising that took over. There was lots of hand-holding, lots of teary faces and lots of moments of profundity where the place itself seemed to fade into the background a bit as the pilgrims became the story, not the pilgrimage.

Still, a beautiful concept and a really affirming part of that ‘local’ that I think we need to prize more.

You can read more at Maya Ward’s website here