Lockdown Walk No 4 – A track less worn by Colleen Keating

 

A track less worn

on Wyrrabalong country
where the forest meets the sea
the hidden way winds along the headland
its overgrown track thick with the Banksia‘s
scrawly shapes like an old fashioned world
of funny creatures
Old man Banksia stares down
like they do in May Gibbs
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie to scare children

in this old xerlerphyll remnant of forest
grass trees too with their thick
green grug-like head of hair
are our guard of honour
they sway around us as we file
singularly through this other worldly place.

wattles and a few winter wildflowers
catch our attention
eucalypts  spotted gums  scribbles
river red gums and underfoot
leaf litter absorbs our steps
as if we are not  really there

and the ocean
with its shots of blue
like projected slides
each a new view through the trees
plays a gentle call in the background
like a beloved whisper
–breathe me  . . .my healing air is yours

its glide  roll  lap of silence
a breathed rhythm of in and out
the space between breaths
the tension between life and death

and twice we clamber out
to a headland lookout
and watch the waves below

the only other sound
wrens butcher birds
distant magpies and
the eratic scratch of brush turkeys

I felt a lightness of being
walking this quiet way
the air fresh
aromas of salty sea, eucalypt
acacia and a woody balm

They say to argue on the side
of happiness
and even though back in reality the news
is full of fragmentation and distress
here for this time is beauty
to feed the soul
and I eat and drink every piece of nature
on the menu.

Time to be slow – John O’Donohue

 

 

Time to be slow

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher

Excerpt from his books, To Bless the Space Between Us (US) / Benedictus (Europe)

https://johnodonohue.com/

Photo: Fanore, Co. Clare / Ireland – 2019 © Ann Cahill

Lockdown Walk No 3 Crackneck Lookout to Shelley Beach by Colleen Keating

Crackneck Lookout to Shelley Beach 

 

Whenever we  are out walking especially in the areas of beauty around our place on the Central Coast we pay tribute to the Awabakal and Darkinjung peoples and this makes us a little more aware  that we walk on sacred ground  and reminds us to pay attention and just ask and thank our entry into a place .   this of course is only a small section of the national Park which clings to the narrow line right along the coast. For us there are three main walks :

1    Crackneck  Lookout to Shelley Beach  and picked up at end  (north)  Ocean

2    Crackneck Lookout to the Trig station and back  (south)  Ocean

3    Magenta  ( lake side) to Canton Beach  north  (Lake )

Winter is  the perfect time for stepping out into our local Wyrrabalong National Park (gazetted in 1991) has the best of all worlds , the wonderful Australian Bush with its Red Gums, Blackbutts and Spotted Gums and  Scribbly Eucalyptus,  the lingering of wattle and other Acacias, Hakea, Myrtles,  Banksia  and the  promise of the odd siren of a red Waratah . (Good to know where they are so you won’t miss the October bloom.) This is backgrounded by the coastal bird life with the iconic crack of the Whip Bird and the spectacular glimpses of the blue reminding us we are walking in a rare piece of land where the bush meets the sea.

Michael gave the walking a miss today but drove me to Crackneck Lookout where we joined with many watching the wide blue sea for the whales travelling north. Excitement each time there was a blow of spray or the break of the water and a silver streak of a tail appeared. Of course they are very distant  and only those with binoculars and one woman I spoke to with a highly magnified camera. (So interesting as she is a poet and writes haiku and uses her photography and poetry together. 

Michael left me to walk down to Shelley Beach and he drove down set up the picnic and read his Kindle. The path has been newly upgraded.  In a way I preferred the old ramble of a track. And I was distressed at some damage along the sides where they haven’t worried about Grass trees and flannel flower plants and other small planting I have been aware of in the past. No doubt next time I come nature will have overcome the damage and be back to it s beauty. The blue glimpses and lookouts give a lovely touch to the walk as it clings to the coast as far as safely possible.

 

 Brush Turkeys    There was activity with the brush turkeys sometimes called scrub turkeys or bush turkeys. I observed three hens grouped and a bit lost, you could say. I walked on and saw the male rooster cocky as ever coming down off his huge mound of leaf litter, twigs and dirt, which I presume he built although who knows??? but just along the way he met a few more cocks all up tight . Were they fighting over the same mound I am not sure but they flew at each other and chased each other. They all landed on a tree and stalked each other trying to win the battle to be the main cock  . . so funny.  I was caught in this wonderful display.

One stalked the other not knowing he was looking down on him from on high. It was a marvellous bush experience to watch. Not having any understanding but still fascinating. The photos demonstrate some of the activity. Of course the noise as they clashed and fought cannot be captured.   Bush energy at its best.

Yes I know some of my friends shoo these scrub turkeys away and dislike the way they wreck their gardens  but they have wonderful things going for them for us to be aware of .

1. They are the most ancient member of their family dating back  30 million years so that should humble us. 2. They have a hard beginning because their parents don’t care for them after they are born . . .they have to defend for themselves 3. they make compost in the name of love as they rack the garden  into a mound so the heat can build up inside for the eggs and to attract the female for firstly they are built by the male to attract a mate.  And then the eggs follow.No wonder there was such a frenzy going on during my walk. 

Lockdown Walk No. 2 – NorthBeach/Lake walk by Colleen Keating

 

   

North Beach/ Lake Walk

A new lockdown walk.  We are calling it the North Beach/Lake walk. Today we set out across The Entrance Bridge,a thing I don’t normally like to do but there were very few cars today. We turned right and headed  up onto the ridge overlooking North Entrance Beach.  It was a stunning winter day. The ocean wide and deep blue lay out like a silken sheet loosely ruffled. Large rolling waves  continuously smooth and regular came in. Spindrift sprayed lightly. A few board riders demonstrated the perfect style of the waves.
Besides the photographic views to our right as we walked through the re-stabilised dunes, we enjoyed the work that the Bush Care groups have done over the years with the vegetation and bird life. 

The track, very smooth. solid, easy for Michael to walk, and the ground cover of cerise pig face,  yellow and orange gazania, pink bindweed and ground covers of daises.  it was like a rainbow carpet spreading out over the hills and down to the beach edge.

       

Growing up stands of golden banksia  with lorikeets dangling gleefully chirping, Bottle brushes, and the mallees mainly burgeoning wattle . Seagulls, magpies and in the undergrowth lots of fairy wrens . swinging on the native grasses flipping into the shrubs . We walked quietly – the sandy path absorbed the sound of our footstep.Towards the end we came across one of the volunteer workers and chatted briefly.

 

We came out and crossed the road to the lake side .  We walked along Tuggerah Lake to the Fragrant Gardens  where we sat and had our picnic. 

We had come to rest and the lake slept without hardly a ripple.  A winter  afternoon sun

     

 

A blue haze enfolded everything . Reaching far into the distance the hills, the Watagans were suffused in a majestic blue to navy light. The hills looked like pile upon pile of tones of blue.  I felt I could reach out and and pull them to me.  Trees, bullrushes, small bamboos, reeds and the grasses had forgotten themselves in the daze blue. 

 

Just beyond two vegetated islands sat. On the furthest away a platoon of pelicans clustered close  . . one flew in and joined the group, cormorants diving and resurfacing, two ducks glided and then a canoeist glided past  leaving their wakes to whistle the water surface. 

Further out there was a flock of birds on the edge of a sand bank wading . We could not recognise them but had a sense it might have been the family of spoonbills we had caught in the muddy creek running into the lake over the south side. But couldn’t be sure. We were more sure of the chirping in the bamboo along the way and stood and watched the family of wrens . . .the blue fairy wrens and the flitting little brown wrens all busy about their chatter and just being.

(Interestingly earlier we saw a fairy blue wren feeding on  the nectar of a golden Banksia.  it flitted in and flitted away. For the last 100 metres we were joined by two willy wag tails chattering around our feet for awhile. They had a lot to say.  It felt they had been with us the whole way and came at the end to remind they have been watching our journey.

And we came along the lake back to the bridge to cross and our NorthBeach/Lake walk came to an end. How blessed we  are we that we can walk from home along the beach and along the lake all in 12.000  steps. 

 

Lockdown Walk No.1 by Colleen Keating

walking in lockdown

there is no ordinary thing
the wind’s song in the she oaks drip of gold
on a pelican’s wing the whip-bird tease
the silver meddle of fish on the lake
encounters with magpie and wren, turtle and swan
ancient rocks and shift of tide
this is the joy of discovery

with snake-like neck the cormorant dives
the ibis clings awkwardly
to a branch on the Norfolk
the grey heron feeds in the light
under the brood of hills and
stillness of lake.

here is good energy to live by
each scene is startling
and poetry
to meet with hands open wide

knowing when we look
there are surprises –
other things to come
the heron’s pickax-beak wakes the stillness
wobbling the boats tied by the boatshed
the ibis lands down on the overflowing bin
and just when we are caught
in the moment
a reminder nothing is permanent

the cormorant surfaces to float idley
the grey heron cranks up
and flies into the sun
and we are left with the longing
for more of the extraordinary
or what now do we hold in our open hands?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating winter light by Colleen Keating

 

 

It was the week before the Winter school break. We decided to come for a few days up the coast before the holiday. We believe the best kept secret is the Winter Beach.
And the past few days are the proof of that . . .
Rugged up and out walking we have enjoyed the soft landing of light on the lake, on the waves, on the birds’ wings, at dawn and at dusk .
The icing for us on our break is the waxing moon and the climax last night of the full moon, called the Strawberry Moon. We walked along the beach by the cold June sea to wait and watch for its appearance like one waits for a much anticipated celebrity. And she did not disappoint. In rich strawberry and cream she rose trailing clouds of salmon-pink, hints of saffron.

 

And Arvo Pärt seem to be with us as a Spiegle im Spiegle music played in colour and sound along the beach the moon with its golden path shimmering along the ocean dappled and rippled at the edge as the incoming tide gave the sand a mirror effect. Yes many have grappled with this celebration of light, One of my favourite artists JMW Turner is such a one with his paintings that burst with light.

Besides us on the beach was a fisherman,  four giggley girls one who told me she had already taken 200 photos, a few photographers up higher , a few seagull feeding from wet sand and a lone pelican, Michael and me.

 

Strawberry moon
a pelican and us two
drink-in the pink pool 

 

across the ocean
winter moon
unites us

our local aurora
light runs across the sky
and into my memory

How can I show we were immersed in a painting. Yes it could be a Turner?

Michael has just read a poem by Jack Cooper who calls himself an ‘observational free verse poet inspired by existence’ and this experience is a celebration for a poet.
as Mary Oliver writes about the take off of a swan across the sky,

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

 

 

Winter Solstice and haiku by Colleen Keating

Monday marks the Winter Solstice.

Leading off, here is a haiku by the 17th Century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho.

Like many haikus, it is deceptively simple: each line enacted by the next.

Winter solitude
in a world of one colour
the sound of wind.

 

What is the Winter Solstice?

The Winter Solstice has been celebrated for centuries and is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It’s a time that is known for the sun to stand still before moving forwards to the slow progression of longer days. It has carried strong symbolism and some people refer to it as a rebirth of the sun. Occurring sometime between June 21- 22 June ( December 20 – 22 in the Northern Hemisphere).

It’s a time to honour the darkness and celebrate the light. It’s the perfect time for self reflection, putting yourself on pause and going within to connect to your own darkness and let go. I’m in the process of doing just that. Taking the time out that I need to re-group and letting go of thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve me.

The Winter Solstice doesn’t have to be a dark or somber reflective experience—it can be joyful and lighthearted. Winter festivals, fire and light and social gatherings are all part of it too. Celebrate the birth or return of the light

Here are two winter solstice haiku written by one of the haiku masters

snowflakes flitting down
a winter solstice<
celebration

Issa– translated by David G. Lanoue

 

winter solstice in Japan
plum trees
in bloom!

Issa – translated by David G. Lanoue

 

 

Some of my  own thoughts: 

winter stroll 

a celebration dance

willy wag tail         col

 

 

winter stroll 

a canteen of spoonbills

filtering the mud         col

 

winter blues

only a heron and i 

drink in the light     col

ocean squall

a hawk soars 

in a cold up-draught   col

 

winter solstice 

my grand-daughter rides her bike 

without training wheels   col

 

winter solstice 

shadow of light turns

 on the nearby hill     col

 

the year’s shortest day

the sun breaks the horizon

anew    col

winter beach

winds abrasive dance 

keeps it lonely      col

 

 

winter lake

a cormorant hangs his wings 

out on the wind    col

wind chilled air 

cormorants sit brooding 

on every post    col

 

just another day

three pelicans wait for

return of fishing boats  col

 

winter solstice 

apples crisp for picking 

in the nearby hills          col

winter warmth

minestrone soup served with 

home-made bread    col

 

winter drive 

to pick apples

childhood memory             col

 

 

 

 

 

winter trees

birdwatching

made weasy     col

 

 

 

family gathering

with food laden table

her last meal            col