– a thousand

child amputees in Basra alone*.

Beautiful walk this afternoon. My walk usually takes about 40-50 minutes but I had a bit of extra time, so I pushed it to the 1.20 mark, maybe a little more, a little less. Six p.m. was the starting time. By 8 p.m. there isn’t much light in the sky, so the sunset was part of the journey. I walked a little past Glen Forrest.

There used to be a mill in that area, in fact, before it was named Glen Forest is was Smith’s Mill for some time. However, some of the land around there was developed as a vineyard by Richard Hardy (I think). It was called Glen Hardy Vineyard, and he also ran a nursery. Some picknicking Frenchmen murdered him after some kind of altercation over a bottle of wine. Hon-hon-hon. I might be making the last bit up, the wine bit I mean. Maybe Richard didn’t like them being on the land. But it is a late-1800s story lost, as the hills so often are, into the small suburb of a small town of a huge, empty, state story.

A movie could be made. Similar movies are made. But some places have magnetism that makes them exude and bristle their own kind of confidence and chutzpah (don’t forget to throw in a splash of class), to which the rest of the world gravitates like swooping magpies to glittery, slippery objects (Chicago), and the stories from these places are told, even if similar, obviously lesser-known, occurrences happen elsewhere at a hundred times the magnitude.

Other places are kind of quiet and hermitage-like and fringe-dwellerish, and they like it that way (Perth, Seattle, outer hills suburbs of Perth). There is always a bit of wildness in the eye of the fringe-dweller. Maybe it is his own form of twirling under the bright lights of a big city. Maybe it’s the difference between getting murdered by French picnickers or gangsters. What were French picknickers doing in a British colony in the late 1800s anyway? Adventurers and those seeking to better their lot have been around since salt has been a trading commodity. Do you think that Lot did trade in his wife once she turned into a saline pillar? Maybe there was just no time if he was fleeing.

***************************************

I am a girl from the hills, the foothills of Perth. The Eastern Hills. Tim Winton in Land’s Edge, and Robert Drewe in many of his comments and writing both state that Western Australians are defined by their relationship to the sea. I think both guys grew up near the sea, but the sea is about an hours drive away for me, and though it was always a heady, bubbly, wave-dumping treat when I was a kid, it only defined me by the fact that I didn’t often go there.

The pool, yes. Bilgoman pool which catches the easterlies swooping in from the eastern states, and was always freezing cold as a result (though it is a warm wind, but it has the night air to sluice through, sully and muss). It was surrounded by Marri trees. Not a Norfolk pine in sight. Even trips there could be sporadic, though, but a bus-trip, if you managed to get one, was only 15 minutes or so after the 15 minute walk up to the highway.

honky nuts

But the hills. The magpie who was having some kind of squeaking conversation with the branch and leaves and nuts and trees he was on and surrounded by. The honky nuts still hanging on the tree (unlike the ones in the photo above), the marri laden with them, waiting for the 28 parrots to empty them out, fly elsewhere, and reseed them once they’d defecated.

The grasses all caught in the light with silvers and purples and gold. The red dust of the track, the dust that swirled below the sun when I shielded my eyes. The hills are what I know.

The wetlands area which, due to these dry dry times, showed a stunning white floor with small quartz rocks, similar to the glare given off from salt lakes – that was new. I hadn’t walked that far before. I wasn’t aware it was there. And there were still reeds and rushes, and the mosquitoes would come out in those patches where some water from the underground still obviously flowed, even if at languid a beat.

It was a treat to find that – to find something new along a walk I have been doing for so many years, but along which I hadn’t extended myself for some time, and definitely not that far, which wasn’t all that far – I do go bush-whacking occasionally, but that is off-track, and this was on-track, but I just turned around at a later point.

That is travel. That is the joy of walking. That is the joy of finding out about places as you wander around. You deliberately look up a guide to find the huge Baha’i temple in Wilmette, Chicago, or the Picasso statue in the city, and they are wonderful – but the extra thrill is the huge park which overlooks the ocean-like Michigan lake; the extra thrill is just how close the Miro is to the Picasso, just how amazing the architecture of the Chicago Temple Building with the very tall spire – access to which was closed the day I visited unfortunately – is.


The Chicago Temple building photo from here

The extra walk along the steep roads of Matsudai following the path of all the art installations of the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial in 2009** – and seeing the hills drop away: at one stage the beautiful terraced rice fields (tanada), later in the season, leaves sewing the colours of autumn. Yet, you wandered those streets, took that literal high road so you could see the house that had made an art installation out of silk worm casings; so that you could see the rose petal bowls of ikebana writ large. Random wanderings bring random joy. Lavender bulldozers in the midst of roadworks . . . why not?

ikebana house

Ikebana House

I thought the sunset wouldn’t be anything much, as there wasn’t any cloud. But as it set a little over and beyond the Darlington post office, it was a pink, red and orange, surely green, as that somehow makes up fire, ball of beauty. The pollution , not so much, but present, made sure that pretty streaks feathered the face of the sky.

Darlington Post Office


* According to an interview heard here
**If you are interested in the wonderful art from the triennial, you can search for tags “Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial”, or “art” or something similar in this blog. Also, at my photostream, if you go to the collection “art”, you will find sets which contain photos, and which have links to as much information as I could find at the time.

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One Comment on “– a thousand”


  1. […] didn’t drive past these tanada as I recall, but that’s not to say they weren’t there, and what actually was at fault […]


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