Lockdown walk No 18: Rock-hopping and tide-pooling by Colleen Keating

Rock-hopping
can be done  through creeks and  brooks, in shallow rivers, and as with  my story today along rock platforms. It is not just stepping and hopping and jumping from rock to rock.
It is about finding your way, choosing rocks to step to, checking if each rock is stable enough for your weight, secure footing and finding balance. It means not overstepping but rather  like the heron checking the ground is secure before taking the next step, making your way through gaps, clambering up and down by choosing stair like features.
It is about reading the way, watching the tide ( easier at low tide as you have more selection of ways to travel,)  taking your time finding a rock to stand securly on  and gaze about,and  for mefinding  a flat rock to sit on with a  curly rock that fits my back. I always watch for and remember those places for  as a poets rocks are for sitting on with notepad and pen and if you have some water and fruit one can sit for hours well depending on the tide for the  ocean gives you time but returns to claim its own.

It includes feeling the texture of rocks that you use to hoist, heave and  hold,  along the way, to stop and wonder at the patterns and geological story that turns like a history book page by page.

 

Tide pooling

is about exploring tidal pools. A marine habitat for marine life providing a home for many hardy organisms such as starfish, crabs and anemone. with shells and rocks glistering with the action of water and sunlight.

Tide Pool Tips
1. The best time to visit tide pools is at low tide.
2. Bring a bag with you to pick up any plastic, paper, glass, or metal trash on the beach.
3. Find footholds on bare rocks, which are less slippery than those colonized with algae and other sensitive sea life.
4. If you peek under a rock, put it back where and as you found it. Leave the animals and plants alone.
5. Do not collect intertidal species. It is illegal to do so in many areas.

Safety Tips

Respect Marine life and be careful not to touch sea urchins,
blue bottles, octopus or any other creature you are unsure of.
Research the tides for the day don’t get caught out on the incoming swell
Rock pools are slippery be careful
Wear protective water booties
Stay far from the rockpool edge where waves can unexpectedly lap

 

Watch for the clouds and your reflectionin the mirored pools and sometimes the moon

and be prepared to meet herons,  cormorants, pelicans gulls  and rock fishermen along the way.

Rock Pools note

Formed in depressions along the shoreline of rocky coasts, tide pools are filled with seawater that gets trapped as the tide recedes. While these small basins at the ocean’s edge typically range from mere inches to a few feet deep and a few feet across, they are packed with sturdy sea life such as snails, barnacles, mussels, anemones, urchins, sea stars, crustaceans, seaweed, and small fish.
As ocean water retreats outside the tide pool during low tide, the resident marine life must endure hours exposed to the sun, low oxygen, increasing water temperature, and predators such as wading birds that specialize in dining in these shallow pools. At high tide, the pool’s plants and animals are bathed in fresh seawater, but must endure the pounding of crashing waves and foraging fish with temporary access to the shoreline.
To survive in this rugged environment, tide pool inhabitants often cling very tightly to any rock to which they can adhere. Barnacles, for example, produce a fast-curing cement that lets them stay put. This natural substance is among the most powerful glues known to exist. In fact, researchers are trying to figure out if and how it can be harvested or reproduced for commercial use.
The space in a tide pool may be limited, but the food there is plentiful. Every wave at every high tide delivers fresh nutrients and microscopic organisms, such as plankton, to support and replenish the pool’s intricate food chain. Washed in by the waves, these organisms nourish the smallest animals, which, in turn, sustain the larger ones.

 

lesson learnt

first rule when questing for the poetic
on a tidal line of an ocean rock ledge
watch for the rogue wave

it is not recommended to lie on the barnacled edge
of a scalloped moon-shaped rock pool
as you wait on its mystery and watch
your reflection in azure sky
with clustered clouds
like empty thought bubbles
around you fill with deep secrets

the second rule is to keep your wits
do not get lost in an inner realm
as you can in a Beethoven symphony

it is not recommended to become immersed
in tapestry of colours shimmered by the sea

in the light among the stones
drum-shaped chitons
clustered iridescent stars and speckled shells
a venetian-red anemone flirting
like a solitary flute
black spiky urchins and the wait for the shy crab
to scuttle out from the king neptune necklace

it is all too hypnotic

the lesson learnt –
expect the unexpected

From Fire on Water by Colleen Keating  2016

 

 

Lockdown walk No. 17, Loosing our Marbles by Colleen Keating

Photo: from our calendar  The night We Lost Our Marbles by  Michael Leunig, a modern day prophet, where I understand ‘prophet’ to be one who challenges us to remember our core values.

Loosing our marbles

“We not only listen to the birds but find ourselves talking  to them.”

Turning the calendar has its own monthly ritual.
Our Leunig calendar always gives us a surprise
often prophetic for our time.
Turning to October was no exception.
It gave us a laugh.

We resonated. It looked how we felt
on our walks in lockdown
birds, fish, flowers moon our companions.

It was while sitting against
the trunk of a swamp oak
on a lockdown walk
we found ourselves both talking aloud
to the Pied Butcher Birds
that had flown down to join us.

A family of seven
some with the distinctive black bib
some more tawny and freckkly
which according to Morcombo –
our Bird Bible –
is the juvenile and poetically
pale rufous-buff.

They hopped around
inquisitive about us relaxing
in their territory.

Besides watching them
dart for insects on the open grass
we enjoyed a choir on a branch above
its musical four-note sequence
lilting flute-like deep and mellow.

The laugh was on us.
listening to the birds
believing they were communicating with us
thinking we were understanding
and talking back to them

Are we happily loosing our marbles?

Now we talk to every bird that comes to meet us –
the willy wag tails  our companions on the way
the tiny wrens we chirping
and sometimes catch their splash of blue
the magpies that warble along our track
their carolling a rings from high
to low, deep and  always  tidings of joy.

We love the lake birds
find the  haunts of the white-faced herons
watch their monk like shoulders
ponder quietly as if pretending to pray
but actually with the great white egret
stalking to prey.
If our spoonbills call in
with their bevy of ducks
we become very effusive


and enjoy the plovers
telling us to be aware of their eggs
and their young.
We wait for the whip birds to sing
listen and laugh with its song of reply.

Loosing our marbles figuratively
gives us permission
to be immersed in their world
like the cartoon of the two
smiling contentedly
surrounded by nature.

Humbly we know we are a very small
and incidental part of their world
yet secretivly a little part
likes to think they are communication with us.
and loosing our marbles stays figurative.

 

 

Life isn’t measured 

by the number of breaths we take 

but by the moments 

that take our breath away

Treasure every day

 

 

The Climb Back Poems for Ted by Pip Griffin

Congratulations to my friend Pip Griffin. Her new poetry collection  The Climb Back  Poems for Ted is up on the Ginninderra  Press web site.   A worthy read  . . . .’these passionate poems open out and touch us with a consoling grief’
and as I wrote,
 ‘For those of us who know life is a gift and are called to the hard work of hope, The Climb Back is invaluable.’
Highly recommended
There is a fierce tenderness in these poems of happy remembrance and devastating sorrow. With so much love expressed so beautifully in the first half of the book, we instinctively fear what is to come, as if all that light cast shadows across our path. Though the death of a loved partner – also a poet – is deeply personal, these passionate poems open out and touch us with a consoling grief.’ – Paul Kane
‘”Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, stains the white radiance of eternity.” Percy Bysshe Shelley. From the first poem that speaks of the ‘delicate prints of oystercatchers’ to the comfort of a ragged dressing gown, the protective love of the kahu-feather cloak and the ‘butcher-bird that perches very close’, Pip, as a poet and wordsmith transports us into an experience that shines multicoloured with the beauty of a stained-glass window. Each poem is a facet that adds to the mosaic, each poem a gentle play of light, illuminating page by page. For those of us who know life is a gift and are called to the hard work of hope, The Climb Back is invaluable.’ – Colleen Keating
‘Poignant, sensual, spiritual, sorrowful, and funny, Pip Griffin’s latest poetry collection The Climb Back encompasses a life richly lived. What is not to admire about a poet who can write lines as diverse as ‘the shags open their sodden wings like flashers’ raincoats’ and ‘cherry trees in blossom line the streets like flower girls at a wedding’. This book is a hymn to New Zealand, Pip’s homeland, and a celebration of its landscape, wildlife and the Maori language. But even above this, it is a memorial to Ted, her friend, lover and fellow poet. If he were still here, I’d be clinking my glass with his, to celebrate her achievement.’ – Mark Mahemoff
978 1 76109 191 9, 92pp

Versions

Paperback

9781761091919
$22.50

https://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/store.php?product/page/2356/Pip+Griffin+/+The+Climb+Back

Hildegard of Bingen on the pedestal all week on the ABC Classic with Martin Buzacott

What a tribute to Hildegard of Bingen  being chosen  by Martin Buzacott for the pedestal all this week dedicated to mental health.  Listen to ABC  Classic at 10 am  each day this week to lift your spirits.
Her story,  Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey by Colleen Keating is available from Ginninderra Press 
and has been acclaimed ‘ a masterpiece’

As the host Martin Buzacott says :

A week of Hildegard’s music for

Health and healing

Comfort and consolation

Mystic marvel

Musical adventurer

Hildegard of Bingen

delivering eternal hope.

for us in this week 11th to 15th October 2021  . . .also the week we come out of lockdown with all its possibilities and uncertainties.

 

The story of Hildegard of Bingen as told by Colleen Keating .

Become immersed in her environment, feel her joys and suffering, loves, passions, betrayals and loss. Live with Hildegard, a medieval mystic and prophet  through her more them 80 years and be renewed with hope. It has taken a thousand years for her to be acclaimed. 

What a treat and how wonderful in Mental Health Week Hildegard is being acknowledged for her music, her poetry,  thoughts of health  and healing and caring for her Abbeys conscious of well being and all this in the 11th-12th century.

 

Lockdown walk No. 16: Finding inner solitude in days of uncertainity

 

dappled light
filters through swamp oaks ~
a cathedral  moment
as a tiding of magpies  
fills it with song

 

 

 

Finding inner solitude today in these final days of lockdown after 112 days of retreat from the world.

June 23rd we knew Lockdown was in inevitable and so we stopped at our small apartment in the coastal town The Entrance, which gave us the feeling of being on a retreat rather than being at home, rather than a holiday, because we could not travel further than 5km. Now it has been 16 weeks of  searching for inner solitude. My tanka above was not  the one chosen for the Eucalypt 31 but it speaks of our days here.It sums up the days of walks  the birds our only companions and the ‘being’  rather then the ‘doing’as the frameworks of meeting with family, friends, writing groups, art gallery, concerts, gatherings for launches and celebrations even funerals, fell away.

What are we left with we older ones who are not homeschooling. holding down  jobs, working from home and keeping spirits of children high.? 

Then I found the perfection of the sonnet by Longfellow speaks brilliantly of my sentiment. 
Emily Dickinson grapples with the same in her brilliant way.

Like Dickinson, Longfellow finds that the one-to-one confrontation occurs best in nature:

And now for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My Cathedral

Like two cathedral towers these stately pines
Uplift their fretted summits tipped with cones;
The arch beneath them is not built with stones,
Not Art but Nature traced these lovely lines,
And carved this graceful arabesque of vines;
No organ but the wind here sighs and moans,
No sepulchre conceals a martyr’s bones.
No marble bishop on his tomb reclines.
Enter! the pavement, carpeted with leaves,
Gives back a softened echo to thy tread!
Listen! the choir is singing; all the birds,
In leafy galleries beneath the eaves,
Are singing! listen, ere the sound be fled,
And learn there may be worship without words.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1807–82), American poet
– is known for ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ and ‘The Village Blacksmith’ (both 1841) and The Song of Hiawatha (1855).

And now my  brilliant  friend  Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —  324 or 326

by Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —

I keep it, staying at Home —
With a Bobolink for a Chorister —
And an Orchard, for a Dome —
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice —
I just wear my Wings —
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton — sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman —
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last —
I’m going, all along.

 

In the above photo
my cathedral is not of stately pines
but of vibrant grass trees and banksia
old river gums, iron barks and acacias
ancients rocks carved from wind and sea
and whispers of spirit under every footprint I take
and when I listen the choir in my cathedral
is full of the healing and comforting sounds of home

Colleen Keating

 

 

 

Lockdown Walk No. 15, Drama, beauty and pathos by Colleen Keating

 

Like any good story, musical  or opera this lockdown walk is filled with drama,  beauty and pathos. Each one or all can be included in any such moment or  experience.

DRAMA         Copulation

When we sat for lunch at Karagi Point
on the north side of the lake
the native miners
put on a a gregarious noisy performance.

It was a frenzied communal event.
The song was of soft low frequency
(compared with their warning and feeding calls).

The female flew down
onto a warm sandy patch of ground
spreading out her grey wings
in a splayed fashion. . .
called a bowed-wing display
her wings arched, head pointing down
tiny pattern of yellow exposed.

Michael suggested she was having a sand bath
until he read up google and we realised
we were witnessing its copulation ritual.

The chatter of miners flying
low from tree to tree
and then the mating and necking on a low branch
kept us entralled

The music was our lunchtime concert.
It was constant and persistent
with shades of  play and play and drama.

Some people dislike the native miner
(sometimes called the noisy miner and the garrulous honey eater)
for their songs but for me
it is a joy to the ear and the spirit.

BEAUTY           Nankeen Kestrels performance

The sudden awareness of catching
the first glimpse of the ocean
over the rim of the sand dunes
and its aqua-marines of blue and green
brings us alive.

Like the shock of jumping into cold water
we catch our breath in amazement
declare ourselves
thalassophiles over and over again.

We find our familiar table
to have a cup of tea
and sit as poets contemplating.

As if on queue it comes
out of the cloudless sky
circles out and around –
the air its partner
in a Vaughan Williams dance.

Closer and at our eye level
with its tail to us
it hovers
the air its magic rug.

It slender wings open wide
fanned tail quivers
in its perfection of
buff and tawny brown lines.

Quivering excitedly
it drops
a daunting direct drop
into the grassy dune
reappears, poises on a fence post
and then takes off
not even leaving an air brush on the sky

What just happened?
An  extraordinary gift.
We hardly remember breathing
entralled by its drama and beauty.
We know it didnt come  for us
but it was something of ours to behold
a brightness we could marvel about

and who can explain ‘coincedence’
or ‘serendipity’
and the tawny kestrel coming just now , just here.

we had slowed down,

were open,

were present

and it was there.

 

After lunch we walked to investigate the fenced off area
all ready to welcome the flights of Little Tern that migrate
from Japan to breed in the summer .
Thrilled to see the signs: educational and warning and the CCTV

PATHOS     A graceful pilot under threat

it makes a heroic journey
to find warm sand-dunes to breed

it risks lonely blue wipeout
baffles wild winds and storm

it traces a memory it does not have
until it flies to remember it

alone and together
it lifts off

navigates with the pull of the moon
and hummed magnetic tones of earth

it is endangered in this civilised world
how good to find

our council has fenced off an area
leaving drift wood and sea grass

to welcome the little terns
this summer.

 

Lockdown Walk No 14, Full of surprises by Colleen Keating

A Walk full of surprises

Surprise No. 1   A phenomenon

 

The sign list wild flowers
as ground cover
along our dune walk
planted to hold the earth
from a hungry ocean
eating away the beach
threatening buildings
built too close to the edge.

From the headland the ocean
spreads innocently today
like a dark silk quilt
slightly ruffled with silver lines
by a gentle breeze.

Along our track
we marvel at the array of gazanias
yellow to orange to deep tangerine
as if an artist had come with her brush
painting petals with dots and lines
extra patterns for variety.

Pig face, pink to purple
bursts brightly, its showy array
taking our attention and with
bees and butterflies we delight
in its sunny face.

The blue fan dune flower
goes unnoticed . . .

till we notice it.

We sight our first.
Thinking this was a lone plant
and we were lucky.
Down on my knees
I make a fuss
admiring its delicate blue fanned petals.

Then a phenomenon occurrs.

We start to see it dotted amongst
the ground cover of gazanias and pig face
everywhere.

How excited to find this phenomenon
has a name
Frequency illusion *

which states
once a thing or idea or word finds your attention
your mind tends to see if often.

* Frequency Illusion first noted as Baader Meinhof Phenomenon
It’s the difference between something actually happening a lot and
something you’re starting to detect a lot. When your awareness
of something increases  leads you to believe it’s actually happening more, even if that’s not the case..

Surprise No 2      The coming and the going

(after The Snake,  D.H. Lawrence)

 

A heron came to my walking track
on an early spring day
and I on a hike to enjoy the heathy dune and beach
on a dry balmy-scented path lined with bushy banksia trees

I came along the track
and must wait
must stand and wait for there it was
on the path
before me.

It had dropped down
on slender stilted legs spyed kikuyu grass
at the edge and remaining stealthy-still
fully focused on the unseeable in the grass
and with pickax precision struck
lifted its neck tall
gobbled back its prey
its long slender throat lumpy in its impulsion.

Silently.

Someone was before me on my walking-track
and I, like a second comer, waiting.

It stretched its neck after eating as herons do
and looked my way as herons do
and tucked away a leg
pondering on one leg
mused a moment
and refocused fully engrossed
being like a taichi master of mindfulness
on this spring day in mid September
during my hour of exercise
out from a pandemic lockdown.

This is where I differ from DH Lawrence
the voice of my education had no sense
to do it harm. Of course I had no fear
like one might with a yellow snake.

i liked being close to it and wanted it to stay
just for awhile to admire
its silvery blue-grey down
its fine white lined face.

This was my chance encounter
and like Lawrence’s next thought
it delighted me.
I too have to confess how I like it
How glad I was it had dropped down onto
my sandy path
like a guest, come in quiet, to feed in the grass
to depart peaceful, pacified and thankless
into the blue clean air.

Was it perversity that i longed to talk to it?
Was it humility to feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured. . .
that we should meet here on this path on this day.

It fed enough
lifted its head dreamily
as if sniffing the scent of the lake once again
stretched its whole body into full height
and looked around like a god or goddess
unseeing into the air. My still statue did not deter
as it slowly, very slowly drew its body in,
legs like the wheels of a plane tucked under
wings with the lightness of an angel
lifted into the air
becoming a white air brush of the sky.

And I was thankful for my education
in being aware that this creature
is one with all of nature
and we are part of the whole
to be in reverence before it
and to be astonished.

I regret it had gone as if in exile
for i feel I am the one in exile
in demanding  this my track
my habitat
my world before its rights
and so foolish to think it my heron.
For it seemed like a king or queen
and in a world of enlightenment
crowned sacred
i shared a moment with one of the angels of life
and i have reason to be gratefull:
for the presence of grace.

Surprise No 3      Out of the blue

from the lookout
on the sand dune
sea and sky all blue

the tawny winged Kestrel
hovers into the wind
as if a show for us
its perfect audiance
and as if curious
flies over us
and i too afraid to look up
for fear of being pooped on

it circles around us
as if a grand performance
then stock-still on the air
focused below
it pins its wings
as if pegged back
drops down
swiftly with harpoon speed
into the foliage, feeds and returns
to play on the wing.

 

Tanka

dune walk 
clumps of gazanias
colour my day 
with all the moods
of the rainbow