Walking Quiet Ways No 1 Central Coast by Colleen Keating

First Tentative Steps out of Lockdown 

  1.   Crackneck Headland to Shelly Beach

Monday 1st June  was the first day it was legal to drive and stay away from your place of shelter.

As soon as we could, after that we tentatively set out. I say tentatively as we had not been out much at all and we had to watch the traffic and the increased  movement about. We also didn’t feel easy about buying takeaway food even coffee. I must say I have envied the young ones sitting on blankets in the sun enjoying boxes of crispy salty sea food and others sitting up to served food in the alfresco places I pass.

On our way to our beach retreat we stopped at the Crackneck Headland to do our first whale watching  and as I faced the sea it just took my breath away. It was a gorgeous day admittedly and many people sitting watching . There was a hush  all around.


The sea was vast. Vaster then I ever remembered it . . . spread out in its immensity with a sheer silken surface .  It was alive as its moved and wrinkled as if someone, maybe the goddess of the sea was moving under its cover . . .the horizon dividing the sea and sky like a fine line separating the two shades of blue.  As I looked out, the sea claimed even more, its aliveness as the waves  caterpillar across the ocean, pursuing each other, perpetually.  That sense of feel-good ran right through my body  like electricity. I guess it is the feel-good hormone running sparking my blood.   I felt alive invigorated.  The ocean renews me. 

Someone said whales were there but far out and I know Michael  and I can’t see that now but what joy to know the whales were there . It added to the sense of  amazement of this ocean like a goddess in all its presence  and not changed in our months of lock down and my absence.

Yes it makes me feel small, insignificant but as I become smaller my awe becomes greater.  It gives me all the meaning I need in life to see this . . well it is the meaning in a way.  and that makes me feel grand with meaning. 

From this came the idea i have the ocean in my heart  and so I had to write  a poem about it .

We decided I would walk from the Lookout to  meet Michael at Shelley Beach. The walk was about an hour  and goes through  Wyrrabalong National Park which it is more a coastal corridor  with some wonderful glimpses of the sea and some good stands of Banksia and Red  Gums and Palms. I have written it up before, but this time I felt it has been neglected and people have walked heavily thru it  and it is damaged. No rubbish but there its not the graceful respect we need in our precious forests.

Walking Quiet Ways No 2 Central Coast by Colleen Keating


Early tentative steps after Lockdown 


Dolphin Court  to Toowoon Bay along the foreshore,
past the Ocean Baths which is still in lockdown
around the headland
along the rock shelf observing the rambling shells

to the Grey Heron home

where excitingly I found 4 new young Herons
feeding amongst the low tidal pools on the rock shelf
in the distance,
to Blue Bay along the sand to the bend
and around to Toowoon Bay

where a last walk along the beach and I met Michael with morning tea of fruit.  It was again the birds that dominated.

Well the Haven of Herons could be a future poem.


Walking Quiet Ways No. 3 Central Coast by Colleen Keating

Early Tentative Steps out of Lockdown

Dolphin House to Long Jetty 

Set out before lunch to walk to Long Jetty and meet Michael  for a picnic lunch.

The day was a stunning blue winters day with some gorgeous fluffy happy clouds bouncing around and giving wonderful ware reflections  as you will see in some of the photos. . I walked along the beach till it became the lake, under the bridge, past the old boat shed, along the path of huge Norfolf pines where the cormorants nest,  along past The Lake House around the bend to the south side of Tuggerah Lake. I met a couple looking very concerned taking photos of fishing lines and tackle caught up in the pines. I firstly smiled thinking of the frustration of your line getting caught like when a kite gets caught  and then herd the story of how ignorant  The Pelicans were standing there confused as picnickers were taking their place everywhere .

Only a few days back the birds had the place to themselves.

I walked along the edge of the lake enjoying the  glass waters reflection of the fluffy clouds  and as usual i enjoyed the birds   the pelicans , ibis, two gorgeous black swans

a wonderful reflection of a large white egret feeding amonst the reeds, a couple of masked lapwings or plovers as we call them


I kept walking past the jetty as it was a bit busy and not enough room for social distancing and found a perfect spot a little further on. Michael and I met with the app ‘ Find a friend ‘ very modern of us haha . He pulled up where i had found a view and a table and was writing and he arrived with thermos for tea and coffee and a picnic lunch.

We actually drove on after that to look at heaters and a back up charger. We bought unsuccessfully as the heater doesn’t blow out air and the charger doesn’t fit,  so Monday a return day. and we might do the same walk and picnic lunch .

Just want to add some photos that I took on our return a few hours later. Here the sunsetting over the lake  is breathtaking.



View from a hospital bed window: A story for our time

Some of you will remember the story, View from a hospital bed window.
While writing the poem about looking out my window
this story came back to my mind. I am surprised how it speaks to us
today in our time of self-isolation –
and how important it is for us to carry hope in the pocket of our heart
when looking out the window on our world.

Here again is that story I have adapted to verse.

.View from a hospital bed window.  (Anon)

Two men, both seriously ill,
occupied the same hospital room.
One man could sit up in his bed
which was next to the room’s only window.
The other man had to spend all his time
flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families,
their homes, their jobs.

Every afternoon,
when the man in the bed by the window
would sit up, he’d describe to his roommate
what he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those times
when his world would be broadened, enlivened
by all the activity and colour of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake
Ducks and swans played on the water.
Children sailed their model boats.
Young lovers walked arm in arm
amidst flowers of every colour
A fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this exquisite detail,
the man on the other side of the room
would close his eyes
and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window
described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band
he could see it in his mind’s eye as the man described it.

Days, weeks and months passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived
to find the lifeless body of the man by the window.
He had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened, called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate,
the other man asked if he could be moved
next to the window.
The nurse was happy to make the switch,
and after making sure he was comfortable,
she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow
to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look.
He faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse
what could have compelled his deceased roommate
who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind.
He could not even see the wall.
She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Another voice that speaks for us today is Cavafy.  In his famous  life journey poem Ithaka (see below) he says,
we only encounter what we bring along inside our soul.
We only see see what our soul sets up in front of us.  


by  C.P. Cavafy

trans. Edmund Keeley

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithaka mean.


In her poem Son of Mine Oodgeroo Noonuccal  (see below)

says in all the pain and suffering she carried she wanted to tell only of the good , the brave and the fine.Words have the power to  plants seed in souls over and over to grow the good, the brave and the fine.

Son of Mine by Oodgeroo Noonuccal

My son, your troubled eyes search mine,
Puzzled and hurt by colour line.
Your black skin as soft as velvet shine;
What can I tell you, son of mine?

I could tell you of heartbreak, hatred blind,
I could tell you of crimes that shame mankind,
Of brutal wrong and deeds malign,
Of rape and murder, son of mine;

But I’ll tell you instead of brave and fine
When lives of black and white entwine,
And men in brotherhood combine- 
This would I tell you, son of mine. 

When you can only take photos from the window  by Colleen Keating

When you can only take photos from the window 

(in self-isolation from covid-19)

I had forgotten how much light there is in the world till you gave it back to me
Ursula Le Guin  A Wizard of Earthsea

you can be caught easily by a showy redhead grevillea
the fancy filagree sprays of white Fiddlewood florets
the yellow curl of aspen’s hint of autumn

you can be caught by the one native miner
that flies in cute and curious
and snap it from every angle with each flit of wing

yet in the window frame of my mind
it is greenery that speaks to us today
with constancy of presence 


how its algorithm of leaf space
pattern and deft design
underscore artisry

how it covers the ground
when left untamed   patient when trimmed
how it begins again    never gives up

a grass tortoise of the fable
it’s slow slog     up trellis     over pipes
down walls

resolute against  drought   fire    plague
how it regenerates    never resiles
to come back


and how the most insignificant–
titled  weeds break through black plastic
distort concrete and pavement

to find the crack
the crack to get back
the light that beckons carry on 

it reminds me
how first green shoots 
of snow bells spear apart dark soil

how moist green worlds
congregate in alcoves of rock
in the hottest of deserts  

and how the play of light




giving us a thousand shades of green