By way of new year greetings to my wonderful blogging friends, a post about the pleasures of little (and not so little) things right on the doorstep of wherever your life is.
At the weekend my mini-walks take on a bush flavour, rather than the week-day suburban stroll around Spud. On Sunday, I head up the hill onto Bullocky’s Hut Road, and turn left at the triangle just above the house. It’s a road I’ve taken many times over the years, but not recently: a walk in the present, but also into the past, and even the future. Times sometimes merge and sometimes tread their own paths.
In the present, there are lichen, juicy new red growth, a purple leaf and dew-speckled leaves; wrinkled boles of mature trees: viscous red sap oozing from wounded bark; a peeling that looks like a teddy bear with its tongue poked out; traces of burning; gracious tall trees; and bark and leaves caught in cobwebs or on twigs.
The past walks beside me. That one’s the gully where I used to visit a great grove of greenhood orchids, and where Rosemary, my orchid-spotting friend, found a caladenia. A bit further along is the hillside down which we used to bush-bash to the creek past a shy congregation of toothed helmet orchids and into the realm of the evil hooked walking-stick vines. There’s a wild cherry tree fountaining its veil over the view: I used to like sitting under it on my folding chair in the days when I was playing recorder – “not where I can hear you.”
Where the road begins its downhill journey, there’s a mini-forest of tall fading pink hyacinth orchids, still there amongst the burrawangs and spotted gums, still vigorously opposing a good photograph.
The future is visible too. Startling new growth springs from the black trunks of geebungs. Yellow posts, yellow dobs of paint on tree trunks, a blue plastic knot around a fallen trunk, a pink tie around the waist of a spotted gum, and bulldozer tracks are all reminders that the gully is under consideration as the site for a dam to store floodwaters.
The next day, the first of 2018, I walk again, this time continuing along Bullocky’s Hut Road. I set out in the company of a man and two dogs, but they are soon far ahead of me as I dawdle, trying to capture sun-struck cobwebs with dew still on them.
The peeling bark is irresistible and so are the wrinkly boles of the spotted gums, and the light-illuminated trunks.
I pass the Skype clearing, the turnoff to the steepness of the Big Dipper, the Eastern Standard Time meridian. When I reach the overgrown track down Dead Car Hill, memories swarm. Just there is where we saw our first greenhood orchids and identified them as pitcher plants: I remember poring over them with my new magnifying glass at the beginning of my long perving on the inner parts of plants. Further down the ridge, years ago, we entered a gully after very heavy rain: the creek rushed along between rocky banks draped with ferns, a vivid green spotted gum guarding the junction with a tributary.
I don’t go down the track because the man and two dogs are returning. We walk back to the house companionably.