Snugglepot + sea lions

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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 fifteen


Day 31 – 2821 steps

It was 3 degrees when I woke up at 6am. I dreamt I’d taken rose cuttings from a house I used to live in 20 years before. Then I flew from America to ‘Russia’ and looked at sea lions in an icy landscape with giant waves smashing little tourist huts that were built amidst the ice. I didn’t take a coat. In the dream, I smoothed the stamp in my passport, which was an actual postage stamp, and felt pleased.

I decided to stay tucked inside in the warm. I was exhausted from a tough day of research and book-writing the day before. I’d worked right through to dinner time, managing 4000 words but it had wrung the pep out of me.

Later I’d go to the market and take the dogs for a long walk in the park by the Yarra, but for now I’d do some yoga to stretch out my aching back and catch up on some reading for my poetry unit. 

But first? Hot tea and a budget session. I had not dared to look too far ahead over the last couple of months, but now I needed to stare my finances in the face and work out how I was going to survive and keep a roof over our heads.

Every time I spent money I felt a bit sick, so I needed to get organised and make plans to buffer myself as best I could. 

I read some poems from Alice Oswald’s book Feeling Awake. I loved learning about poetry so much. The way words sound and fit together is a beautiful sort of puzzle. It felt like you could never know enough about poetry and I loved this idea … like it was a sort of bottomless lake of language.

I loved the writing exercises we did in the course, taking something and turning it into something else. Turning the usual writing rules on their head. Making the words flow and dance as my lecturer reminded me when I put too many commas in my poetic lines.

I planned on launching and intensive examination of punctuation in poems over the next few days. 

When I’d begun studying the year before the State Library was still open. I could drive in on a Sunday when the roads were quiet. I’d find a spot in the gorgeous domed room to soak up the energy and read from the books that lined the shelves. 

When I was studied out, I’d wander down Russell Street and buy a box full of BBQ Pork Buns, peeling the paper from the bottom and eating the sweet, fluffy goodness in the car on the way home. Bliss.

Those days seemed so far away, but at least I was safe and sound and had somewhere to live. Many were not and did not, I reminded myself. Every day was a mix of worry, exhaustion and gratitude now. 

Day 32 – 7356 steps

I woke up at 4am feeling sick. I often wake up feeling sick. I am used to it. I don’t know why I’m like this, but I am. Most days I feel a bit peaky and it’s hard to know what’s the root cause is.

I managed to go back to sleep for a couple of hours and eventually got up at 7. It was 3 degrees. I was feeling sick.

I put on my shoes and headed out anyway. Perhaps the fresh air and the green would make me feel better, I reasoned. And if not it didn’t matter. At least I’d given it a shot, right?

I was reading about the benefits of some of nature’s tiny particles on the body and mind, and I figured perhaps being outside was the best medicine, rather than staying tucked up. And guess what? It worked. I felt much better by the time I hit the dirt path that ran towards the wetlands.

And I felt even MORE much better when I happened upon a kookaburra, perched on a branch right beside the track.

He was delightful, all long tool-like beak and fluffy plumage. Some Indian Mynas were monstering him, but he took it in his stride and stood his ground.

Naturally, when I tried to get closer, he flew away. And so began a sort of dance along the edge of the wetlands and I trailed him, hoping to get an even better look.

In the end he crossly took to a tree that was inaccessible, so I left him to it and headed into The Crying Forest and onto the bridge.

The cormorant not on his usual branch, but I spotted him in the distance and he immediately took flight and skimmed across the water to a landing spot, much closer to me now. 

I said a quiet hello and then circumnavigated the wetlands, walking back through the muddy tree-ed areas away from the path.

Some actual field mushrooms were growing in the grass and I immediately wanted to pick them, but ‘leave half for the coroner’ was ringing in my ears and I decided if I wanted mushrooms I should just buy them from the greengrocer. 

It was Saturday and my thoughts shifted to the breakfast crumble elements I’d made the night before. Just-stewed apple and rhubarb, a muesli-heavy crumble topping were waiting at home, along with a tub of vanilla yoghurt.

I increased my pace, trotting past the kookaburra again (this time leaving him alone), past some flowering gums that immediately conjured up Snuggle Pot and Cuddlepie vibes, past dogs, walkers, cyclists. Over the frosty field, mist rising above it’s crunchy green grass and through the hidden pathway that takes me home. It runs between back fences of houses in my neighbourhood, and as I walked I wrote a poem, reciting it over and over to commit it to memory, eventually dictating it into my phone, in case I forgot it before I got home.

I told Ari about the poem later as we drove to the shops to pick up supplies.

Me: I wrote a poem about a dead bird on my walk this morning.

Ari: Are you a 16 year old girl?

Me: Yes.

Me (thinking): I kind of AM, to be honest.