Reclaiming the headland

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Gradually I’m re-establishing myself at the Point. My second walk is out onto the headland, on a misty morning when Mother Gulaga is completely buried under cloud. I need to watch my footing: Warsaw cobblestones are replaced by banksia roots; dog shit by kangaroo poo; ice and snow by squelchy mud.  

Beautifully constructed ant-nests, like the work of a master potter, emerge from the sandy track. I am startled when I reach the beach: the creek has retreated from the sea, cut off by a high sandbar, and I can cross the sand directly without having to angle my way along a crumbly sand-cliff edge. When I left a year ago this was not so: the creek intermittently emptied straight into the ocean. I miss the actual presence of kangaroos: I don’t see one where in the past this early in the morning I might see up to 40. My son reckons they’re all grazing on lawns in the village.


I walk up the wooden stairs and along the track heading south. I stand on the headland and watch the sea rolling in, sending up eruptions of splash and waterfalling back down over the rocks. Here at the place where I lay watching eagles swirl just overhead with my niece; contemplated life on the first day of retirement; sat reading and whalewatching in beautiful solitude; photographed friends in a studio without equal; and fended off the man in brown shoes.

I’m glad to renew my acquaintance with old familiars, casuarinas with their lichen trunks and spotted gums with their hallmark splotches.

There’s a fanfare of fungus: everywhere the white tops and frilliness of mushrooms, some as big as a good-sized saucer with a stippled cap;  some delicate, not much more than skeletal; some standing proudly on a tall stem; some brown and white; some russet as they emerge from casuarina needles; and one a rich crimson with a minute pool in its cap.






Soon I’ll be a re-natived Potato Pointian!

Reclaiming the beach

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I’ve been home from a year in Warsaw for a week and all I’ve done is sleep peculiar hours and feel displaced. It has taken me all that time to drive my unwilling feet down to the beach, despite all the envy I expressed of other people’s beaches. Why? I want stimulation and I tell myself, as I have many times before, that I’ve seen all there is to see. I finally drag myself out early on a drizzly day, sky vanished in grey sea mist. I ramble around the village, walking up my street, stopping at the viewing seat above Jemison’s Beach and passing judgement on the wooden stairs completed while I was away; walking up the hill to the trig past grazing wallabies and a raindrop-speckled yucca; and then down to the seaweed strewn sand of Potato Point beach. 

The tide is low and the colour leached. I see the world through rain-specked glasses, and feel the beach working a bit of preliminary magic. The light is perfect for photography, and clumps of seaweed lie on the sand arranged like artworks on a gallery wall, not so many that it’s overwhelming.

I leave the beach to walk back along the puddly road and encounter the precursors to a festival of fungi.

I  amble across Troll Bridge and the grassy kangaroo-lolling patch. One old fellow missing an ear looks up at me from the swamp. I’ve begun to reclaim my southern hemisphere home.

Leaving Spud

Tomorrow I leave my paradise at Potato Point to spend a year in Warsaw. This post is a temporary farewell to a place I’ve grown to love more and more since I moved here twenty years ago. 

It’s given me so many gifts. It’s offered spectacular places to walk – on the beach, through the bush, beside lakes. It’s provided plenty of animal life – kangaroos, emus, diamond pythons, plovers, kookaburras, seagulls, terns, black cockatoos, sulphur crested cockatoos, sea eagles, black swans, ducks, magpies, king parrots, orioles, honey eaters, bower birds, even the occasional lyrebird. It’s given me close acquaintance with many native plants in the wild – banksias, spotted gums, eggs and bacon, hibbertia, poison peach, schelhammera, blueberry ash, tea-tree, bursaria, donkey orchids, hyacinth orchids, greenhoods, bearded orchids, glossodia, caladenia. It’s indulged my liking for patterns – braided sand as the sea retreats, intricacies of colour and shape on rocks, the designs of at least a hundred species of shell, textures and markings on the bark of trees, reflections broken up by ripples. It has drawn me out onto rock platforms to peer into rock pools at low tide and to wonder at the ancient geological history represented in the cliffs. And it always offers a cool sea breeze on a  hot day.

Recently it’s enticed me into the sea, at least once, sometimes twice a day. I hang my towel on the minimalist structure surviving since the January floods and walk along the beach in my swimmers, often wet to my non-waist as the waves come in. The dog usually comes too, tearing off after the ball, poised in stillness mid-leap as he catches it, or digging a frantic hole out of which he noses it. When the lead appears he grimaces into the distance to see what other dog is responsible for his leashing. Sometimes we meet acquaintances and stop for a brief chat. Back at the towel, I hang my hat, shirt, camera and specs on convenient knobs and stroll in to meet the waves. Five or six steps in and I’m up to my neck, kneeling down at low tide, where I bob up and down for a few minutes. Only once have I been knocked off my feet and completely submerged, revisiting that salty-spluttering, eye-scrunching, and nose-holding I remember so well from childhood dowsings.

The moment I’ve been anticipating now since the middle of last year has arrived. I’ve wound down my Potato Point life. The bags are packed; the hard farewells to dear friends said. snippetsandsnaps is in mothballs till this time next year; 12monthsinwarsaw is on its rocky path to activation. Tomorrow we get on the Sydney bus, on Saturday we board the plane, on Sunday we’ll be settling into our apartment three doors along from my daughter on the other side of the world.

Thank you, blogging mates who’ve followed me in my Potato Point life. I hope you’ll sign up to join me for my Warsaw adventures. 12monthsinwarsaw goes live on Saturday, if my scheduling works!

  

 

“45 years”

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My ritual of farewell to my Australian home included a final visit to Narooma Kinema to see 45 years. I was drawn to the movie by a review that used the word “understated”, and by the premise: the arrival of the past in the present when the body of Geoff’s girlfriend from fifty years ago is found perfectly preserved in ice in the Alps.

I was not disappointed. Over five days the impact of this discovery unfolds slowly as Geoff and Kate prepare to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. You can watch Kate’s mind turning over all the implications through fleeting expressions. It’s a beautifully nuanced portrayal of a long relationship: its easy intimacies, its daily life, its tendernesses and its occasional acerbities.

There were many moments I especially loved: Kate looking in the window of a shop at watches for an anniversary gift; Geoff, unwilling, being persuaded to go to a reunion; the incidental touches in passing; Geoff’s middle of the night search in the attic for a photo of Katya; dancing in the living room followed by an unsuccessful attempt at love-making; Kate looking at the slide showing Katya’s pregnancy.

Part of the understatement  was the lack of emoticon-soundtrack. Except for occasional music from the deep past and a brief interlude when Kate plays the piano (one of those pleasures that get lost in routine, like Geoff’s birdwatching), the only sounds are those that belong in the scene:  dog barking, wind blowing, chatter of the town street, Geoff thumping around in the attic. There is nothing to direct our response.

I was apprehensive about the way the movie might end. I really didn’t want it to wind up neatly, and it didn’t. After Geoff’s emotional tribute to the marriage, they raise their hands in joint triumph, but Kate breaks the holding and stands quiet and unsmiling.

 

  

All Saints Garden, Bodalla

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The prelude to this post is yet another confession of obliviousness to what’s on my doorstep. For ten years, Kelly Kershaw has been creating a garden on the outskirts of Bodalla, open at weekends, and I’ve only just registered it. On a warm Sunday morning, my last in Australia for a year, I finally went down the rutted track off the highway to visit. I had a long yarn to Kelly who gave me a graphic account of her surprise when she won the golden spade award from Gardening Australia and of the slow development of the garden and the bed and breakfast. She told me that the garden itself would guide me on the circuit around it as indeed it did.

The delights were many as I proceeded through the twelve hedge-created rooms, with far prospects over farmland and out to the mountains, and near prospects of the garden itself. Espaliered fruit trees; a small orchard of fig trees, all from the same parent; ceramic bowls of water; rusty iron butterflies and rabbits; old timber transformed; rock features; and a number of garden nooks with charming seats. The flowers were past their best as autumn encroaches. I’ll visit again in spring 2017.



  

  


  

    

      
For the All Saints own gallery of photos see here

Dusk sculptures

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Last night we went for a late walk along the beach, as the sun set in pink slashes and the sea took on subtle colouration. Three young people seemed to be loitering idly mid-beach back near the dunes, and we profiled them accordingly as we headed towards the sea mist.

On the return journey we saw what they’d been doing and had to unwind our prejudices. There were three very different Andy Goldsworthy constructions crafted from the flood-wrack still remaining high on the beach. There was enough light to capture the sculptures without fancy photographic know-how and we had a chance to express our delight to the artists as they straggled back across the beach to the village.  J saw the sculptures as transient, at the mercy of the sea and the night, but they were still there the next day.

  
  
Check out Andy Goldsworthy in Google images

Black and white rural

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At last! An overtly non-urban challenge. My contribution is this cow, flaunting her designer black and white patterning in a paddock 250 metres from Highway 1, linking Sydney and Melbourne via the coast. I spotted her as I was ambling back to my car along the Potato Point road after coffee at my favourite coffee shop, Blue Earth. This challenge of Paula’s provides a perfect blogosphere home for her bright b&w. Unfortunately I don’t have Paula’s capacity to summon dramatic skies at need.

 

Triton 2

Since my last shell post, I’ve acquired five more shells, all tritons, in varying stages of growth and decay. I decided to photograph them on and in my beach studio, the flood wrack construction where I hang my towel for the morning swim.

Once I’m in my studio I  feel obliged to experiment, rather than merely document and exult. I’ve taken advice from Sue’s guest post for Paula about negative space – “the space in your image that does not contain your main subject. It might be clear space with no detail or almost none, perhaps predominantly black or white, or it might be a blurred background that contrasts with your (in focus) subject. Negative space is perhaps the single most important aspect that helps the subject in your work – the element of interest – stand out and attract the viewer’s attention.” I asked her for ideas about photographing my tritons and she suggested capturing them from below.  The flotsam towel rack offered me plenty of opportunities.

    

  
  

 I was on a roll so I explored other perching possibilities and of course reverted to my passion for closeups and sand.

   
  

   
       

Shell: a study

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When I find a white weather-washed shell on the beach I decide its beauty is worth a series of photos. It has that bleached look that comes from time in the sun that peels away layers to a sometimes dimmed pattern within. From every angle you see new artistry: tiny holey dots, scallops, frilled ridges, curves, elliptical apertures, an intricate design of coils and curls and circles and borders.

There is a log in the early morning shade falling from the headland, also weather bleached. After my brief dip, while J is still riding waves, I settle down and place my treasure on the sand and let the camera peruse it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black and white gardens

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Garden tragic Jude is asking this month for a b&w or monochrome garden-related photo. My garden is the bush, and one of my favourite plants is the spotted gum, which I've photographed untold times – smooth and stately, peeling in great slabs, gleaming with rich colours after rain. I've adjusted to its name change – once Eucalyptus maculata it has become Corymbia maculata – but a name change doesn't change beauty. The forests near home are filled with spotted gums and their companion burrawangs and, in summer, hyacinth orchids. In one patch on the headland the trunks are twisted and the trees stunted. Elsewhere they stand alone and can reach giant status. The Big Tree in state forest near J's has been a place of family pilgrimage for many years: if you haven't visited it you feel deprived of a mysterious pleasure. Other giants lurk on the outskirts of rainforest.

The one in the photo is the view from the front door of the house where my children grew up. I have seen it peering through mist; vivid in crimsons, creams and greens after rain; dangling shreds of bark at raking up time as the fire season revs up; serene and smoothly grey in afternoon light.