Walking around home: February 2019

I: Potato Point beach

So long! So long it’s been since a reasonable, pleasurable walk. At last, in the cool air of a late summer morning, I hauled myself, no longer reluctant, out for a hill-and-flower walk, which turned into a beach-and-sky-and-rockpool walk along my neglected home beach.

II: Moruya – a walk by an ageing woman

While the car is being checked for rego, I stride out confidently to deal with a number of matters. Suddenly, I find myself flat on the ground. I gather my resources and my specs which have fallen off and sit up surprised, facing in the opposite direction: doubly surprised because nobody comes to see if I’m OK. Maybe they think women in their mid-seventies tumble onto the grass and lie there as part of their morning routine? Why not?

I’m OK albeit a bit shaken and I continue my meander around town. I collect my prescription, and take the long route to the doctor’s surgery. To make an appointment, understand – and to see how I go about replacing my beloved long-term doctor who’s just retired.

Then I head for the library to check out its recent makeover, and to visit the new art gallery. The art gallery does have a routine, one I should be familiar with: not open on Mondays.

Walking seems to liberate ideas in the way having a shower does. I’m hunting for a special first-birthday book for my great nephew and I think “Aha! How about bookplates?” I find a beautiful edition of The wind in the willows, but my confidence dwindles: am I living too far in the past? I leave empty handed, passing two equally beautiful things: peeling paint on wood, and a sprightly car.

My car has passed its test. The check is done at the garage we used to frequent when we drove real bombs, not just a 10-year-olds, and I well remember Warwick’s shudder every time he saw us coming.

The registry office transaction is done almost before I enter the building and I head home to sit on my deck, under its umbrella and within hearing of the sea.

III: A low-tide beach walk

I park the car under a tree my children used to walk on the crown of when they were young. Now I use it to frame a glimpse of the sea through casuarinas.

I cross the rickety bridge, planks wobbling a bit under my tread, and smile down at the octopus glued to its side railing.

I walk through the dunes keeping an eye open for snakes – a python or the far less benign tiger snake – but I see only the gleaming yellow fruit of lomandra.

My tracks, once on the beach, join the tracks of running grass, the wiggles of some under-sand creature, and the air-paths of seagulls.

IV: Lilli Pilli Beach to Circuit Beach

Because I spoke to strangers, I heard about an enticing headland track. Without that conversation, I probably wouldn’t even have seen the overgrown entrance. But I saw it, I marked its existence in my Beach Bible with a postit, and just to make sure it didn’t get lost in the black hole of memory I revisited this part of my glorious coastline within four days. My feet were unaccustomed to walking unknown tracks so I wore joggers instead of sandals, and watched my footing like a hawk.

The track was leaf-littered and bordered unexpectedly by maiden hair fern, with the odd violet lurking in the green. The large subdued-orange berries of pittosporum were a rare patch of colour,

until I looked over the edge down onto the vivid blue of the early morning sea, disappearing into a haze towards the horizon. Rocky islets marked the shapes of the rock platform and further out at sea were lumps big enough to be called islands.

Scattered along the track were benches, some of them basic, some carved wood with memorial names on a brass plaque, all with a splendid view. I heard a periodic hollow boom as the sea entered a cavern beneath my feet.

Eventually the track began to descend, about the same time as discreet houses appeared. A sharp turn brought me to steps down to the beach, with a rope railing that I found very helpful. Some of the stairs made opportunistic use of tree roots and some had roughly bolted timber shaping them.

A lineup of battered dinghies and other watercraft drew me further down and I poked around rockpools and seaweed briefly, before heading back. It was 9 am and I had a morning of appointments.

Along the track I encountered a couple walking (a terse “G’day”) and a man jogging with two dogs (a terse nod from the man, a friendly tail wag from the dog not on a lead.)

As I emerged from the bush, I was confronted by a concrete mixer in search of an earth-surface to obliterate. The circuit walk idyll was over.

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