The river road sequence has got me. I lie awake at night trying to visualise the next segment. When I set off about midday it’s quite warm and I’m thankful for intermittent shade and an occasional cool breeze. A creek winds along a hollow, green with willows and grass, towards the hills. A crane flies over, vouchsafing me a blurred image. White trunks reach into the sky which today is a washed out blue. The lagoon is home to a group of geese, the mown paddock to bales of hay, the dam to reflections of the wooded hills. An unfamiliar bird perches on a gate, unperturbed by my presence.
I become aware of smells: the pungency of cow manure and the passing of a fox, and the sweet smell of honeysuckle. I hear the chirping of birds and the thwirr of wingbeat; the honking of geese; the croaking of frogs; the tentative sound of summer’s first cicadas. The side of the road is rich with grasses, and I’m most charmed by what we used to call soldier boys, a more interesting name than Plantago lanceolata. Minute flowers I saw in ones and twos yesterday are suddenly lining the road in tiny forests. The lurid purple and pink of vipers bugloss neons through the bracken. Honeysuckle clambers just out of reach across a weedy ditch. Maidenhair fern and bracken are fresh green after recent rain. Shivery grass shakes in the slightest puff of wind and fresh gum tips are a gleaming crimson, orange and a powdery pink.
The road begins to wind uphill past a farm called Tally-ho, and looking back I can see the Great Divide beginning to emerge above the lower hills. I reach the sign-post pointing to Nerrigundah and see that my river road has become an official cycling trail. I turn back, leaving the next segment for another weekend.