Thursday, 17 January 2019

Soft Touch

It’s not unusual on any given day to find myself rescuing butterflies, as I have concluded their tiny brains simply do not have the capacity to conquer the intricacies of spatial relations. My back porch is a sun trap, with windows giving a view of the garden while also providing shelter from the wind, and it has become a favourite spot for butterflies, blowflies, wasps and dragonflies. Only problem is, the butterflies seem to have a dickens of a job working out how to exit the porch. The garden is there, right in front of them, they can see it through the glass, but rather than move the one metre it would take to head back where they came from, they will literally flap around aimlessly for hours until I put them out of their misery, cup them gently in my hand, and give them their freedom.

Spent a couple of hours on the couch reading a book when I caught sight of one in my peripheral vision. Thinking it was just passing the window I did a double-take when I realised it was inside, quite happy to peruse the lounge room and spend some time on the couch near my feet. However it came to be flutterbying inside I’ll never know, maybe it had learned a thing or two from the blowflies who hang around waiting for that split second when you open the screen door to slip in unawares. Whatever the case, I did the usual thing, scooped it up gently and headed out the back door.

Even when granted its freedom, it seemed reluctant to go. Walking up and down my hand, its touch barely noticeable, I thought it would be eager to take flight, but not so, content instead to wander round and round the palm of my hand. I had time to note its distinctive markings, and though just your common everyday garden variety butterfly, it sported a unique design worthy of any artist’s deft brushstrokes.
Finally walking to the tip of my finger, I thought take-off was imminent, but no. It turned back to face me, proboscis seeking out every morsel of salty sweat. Was it bidding me a final farewell? Of course not, but maybe somewhere in that minute butterfly brain it was aware I had saved it from what could have been a sad end, for it would have starved had it remained in the house for long.

Another ramble round my hand, the faintest tickle, then off it went, back home to tell of its dice with death and lucky escape.

walks my life line
past the Mount of Venus
strokes my heart line
with the softest touch
then takes flight
from my fingertip

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Slowing Down

The weather on Tasmania’s west coast is often wet, wild and windy, but I managed to pull three fantastic days out of the hat for my mini-break during this week. With no intention of taking part in the tourist ventures Strahan is famous for, namely the Macquarie Harbour cruise and Abt Railway trip, I walk, read, write, take photos, collect rocks and leaves, and eat.

The process of a long walk is an interesting one. I start out just walking, intending to go from here to there, but partway in there is a shift from simply admiring the surroundings, the bigger picture, as smaller details catch my attention and cry out to be noticed. My eyes change their focus, my pace slows, and I stop. I enjoy the spectacle of a grand vista, a stunning view, but it’s the finer details that always fascinate me. Since I was a little tacker, the seemingly infinite varieties of moss, lichen and fungi have been a source of much delight, so to find a fungi wonderland on the Hogarth Falls track makes the whole trip particularly rewarding.

My amateur photographic attempts are rewarded with ducks mid-flight over the water, fungi I’ve never seen before, water dripping off feathery moss, lichen on gravestones which have been standing for a hundred and sixty years, clear tannin stained water, mirror images in the harbour so clear the waterline disappears, smooth pebbles with markings both bold and so fine I marvel at how they came to be.

The seabirds busy themselves near the water’s edge, the trails of their footprints crisscrossing the sand patterns on the beach lashed by the waters of the Southern Ocean. A massive lump of bull kelp, stem still intact, stretches out like the entrails of some marooned monster, twisted strands of dark chocolate brown rubber, with folds of translucent orange where it catches the sunlight. 

 The longer I wander, and wonder, the more I see. Not just because of time spent observing, but in focussing on what is directly in front of me, details stand out. Intricacies of texture, size, shape and colour delight the senses, highlighting the cycle of life of each organism, the importance of these little things which make up the whole, and the crucial link between them.

By slowing my pace, I don’t just look, I see. I don’t just hear, I listen.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Imagine That

The mug on my desk has a chip on the rim. Emblazoned with Albert Einstein’s famous quote Imagination is more important than knowledge it was a favourite, so there was never any question of tossing it out once I could no longer use it for my cuppa. It now holds my pens and pencils, and reminds me every day of the importance of looking beyond what I merely see, challenging me to listen to my heart and not only my head.

The creative process is a long and winding road, with enough highs and lows and twists and turns to bring you undone unless you believe you’re on the right path.
Finding ways to negotiate that road, particularly in the times when I feel dry and uninspired, is what keeps me forging ahead, however faltering my steps may be.

‘Write what you know’ has long been a premise from which to start, but for most of us our lives are fairly routine and ordinary and on the surface wouldn’t appear to be of much interest to anyone else. To quote Jean-Jacques Rousseau The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. If it were not so, the whole realm of literature and film and music and every other artistic endeavour you could think of, wouldn’t exist.

But throw in some other possibilities, little tangents, head off down some unexplored sidetrack somewhere, ask ‘what if…’ and see where it leads. For writers, those two words can conjure up all sorts of scenarios, bringing disaster, mayhem, conflict, and all manner of unexpected joys or tragedies into an otherwise ordinary world. For all artists and artisans, whether visual or not, those words can open up other ways of approaching a task, especially when the ‘usual’ way of doing things no longer has the impact or holds the sense of fulfilment it once had.

All too easily we lose our inner sense of wonder and curiosity when our childhood years are behind us. We experience moments of it here and there, where something resonates deep inside, and wonder in those moments how and when and why we let all slip so easily. We don’t need to recapture our youth, we simply need to capture those moments when they come our way, and be thankful.

Think outside your head
travel through imagined worlds
never seen before