Herons + headaches

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A bit more of my Lockdown One sort-of-memoir!

Read chapter one 

Read chapter two

Read chapter three

Read chapter four

Read chapter five

Read chapter six

Read chapter seven

Read chapter eight

Read chapter nine

Read chapter ten

Read chapter eleven

Read chapter twelve

Read chapter thirteen

Read chapter fourteen

Read chapter fifteen

Read chapter sixteen

Read chapter seventeen


Day 33 – 7235 steps

I spent the morning reading poetry guides and a book called Finding Milly, drinking tea and eating pastries. 

By lunchtime I had my temporary fill of iambic pentameter, caesura, endstops and the like (bliss!)

I was feeling pretty sluggish after all the pain au chocolat, brain-stretching and lying about, so I took a lesson from the previous day, put on my shoes and headed out into the midday sunshine.

It was so much warmer and brighter, although still a little bit chilly.  

The bike and pedestrian path was really, really busy, but the gravel and dirt paths were weirdly deserted. People were picnicking and playing on the grassed areas, clearly appreciating the reinstated joys of just hanging about where previously exercising in pairs had been allowed.

I hit a steady, fast-ish walking pace quickly – if there is such a thing - happy to be experiencing the same streets and parklands at a different time of day.

After ten minutes, I could breathe more deeply.

After twenty minutes, my back stopped hurting.

After thirty minutes, my headache had disappeared and I felt incredibly pleased that I’d headed out instead of having a hot bath and a nap.

When I got the wetlands there was no sign of the cormorant, but a pair of beautiful ducks were preening themselves in the shallows, emerald feathers catching the light.

Another large bird skidded in across the water coming to rest in a weedy and reedy area where it sat staring and craning it’s neck.

When I got home later I flicked through the pages of Michael Morcombe’s Field Guide to Australian Birds settling on a page with various kinds of herons. I slid my fingers across them until I found the weedy–reedy guy’s twin - the White-faced heron. The ducks were in there too. They were the sedentary and nomadic Pacific Black Ducks, according to Mr Morcombe.

Speaking of ducks. I ducked on and off the path, through grassy clearings edged with trees, their leaves pointing me onward, past cubbies and freshly sawn stumps and empty cans of energy drink and pre-mixed booze.  

It was a reminder to bring a rubbish bag with me and I made a little note to self on my phone.

It’s so infuriating that the very green space that helps revive and restore us is seen as disposable and peripheral by some villainous types.

The time spent in spaces such as the one at the end of my street was super special. Imagine thinking it was just fine to toss your rubbish in the midst of it. Monsters.

I’d been thinking about all the different things I was interested in, how they were all jostling for position during these no actual job days. I didn’t find myself with any spare time, because there was so much I wanted to do catch up on. So much reading and observing and studying…

It felt like I was collaging myself back together. Seeking out the right pieces and places, researching stories that confirm who I might be, finding others like me who have struggled with the weirdly-fitting parts of themselves and are trying to make those parts feel okay. To stop them pinching or rubbing too much. I can’t get enough stories. I can’t stop hoping for a better fit. I can’t stop trying to learn more. Not BE more. Just learn more. Well … Perhaps be more ME.

Day 34 – 7014 steps

It felt like a ‘get out of bed and put your walking shoes on’ sort of day, so I that is what I did.

I’d walked the dogs in park by the Yarra the day before, the late afternoon sun streaming through the trees and the path along the river almost deserted except for a dad and his two small children on their bikes. I said hello to them as I passed and the little boy stuck his bottom lip out, scowled and said “HUH-LOH”. I could relate and we headed off in our opposite directions.

This particularly lovely two-walk day had spurred me on and today I wanted to get out in the sunshine and cool as soon as I could.

I was still listening to Sue’s book, replaying the parts that I loved the most and making it take twice as long to read.

There was so much in this book about being in green spaces and parks. So much that was helping me to understand why these walks were making me to feel so much better.

I thought back to the early walks and how terrible I was feeling when I started. The lightness and optimism I felt now was a stark contrast, not to mention the lack of fear I experienced as I wandered through the bushy areas of the park alone.

I admit, when I wrote that I felt a little shudder of fear, but when I’m out there it doesn’t feel scary at all anymore. I don’t assume everyone I encounter is a potential danger. I say hello to most people I pass. These are big leaps from a former curled up, couchbound fossil.

I knew walking was having real therapeutic benefits for me, but listening to Sue’s book it became clear that it was walking amongst the natural world that was really making a difference.

The trees and spores and fresh air and plants that surrounded me were giving me strength, drip-feeding wellbeing back into a body and mind that had been world-weary for a very long time.

This was a huge leap forward for me, but I knew I still a long way to go. I was isolating myself from people and had been doing this long before the government asked us to do so. For several years, in fact.

Complicated feelings in the wake of a number of traumatic experiences had pushed me further and further away from other people.

I felt I should be on the outskirts of life, for now. I watched my friends strengthen and deepen their relationships while I felt that I should stay away and not bring my complicated self into their wholesome and happy days.

I knew this was not healthy and as I noted the lack of heron, cormorant and kookaburra in the wetlands area, I made a silent promise to myself to start chipping away at these isolating tendencies. 

I bought a coffee and a berry muffin at the café and walked home. I kicked off my muddy shoes, flicked on the news and sat at the kitchen table.

When I pulled the muffin out of its paper bag and peeled the paper off its muffin-bottom, I realised it was still warm from the oven. The berries were jammy and the cake soft and fluffy. Can you imagine anything nicer than that after a walk amidst the trees?!