A Sydney Christmas

By Vita Forest

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  This is how I spent the day…

  • Woke to a chorus of brightly coloured lorrikeets outside my window.
  • Polished and tinkered and tested new synonyms for my novel’s logline and synopsis (the hardest 300 words I have written).
  • Swam my first kilometre of the summer at Balmoral Beach.
  • Enjoyed the coolness of the water as the weather heated up.
  • Watched children testing out their new Christmas presents – surfboards, balls, blow-up rings under a clear blue summer sky.
  • Cut up fragrant mint and parsley leaves for a salad.
  • Spoke to my children, off in Tasmania with their father.
  • Drove my parents to my sister Molly’s house for a family Christmas where I was
  • Greeted by a young Jedi brandishing his new light sabre.
  • Drank champagne and lashings of cold water to stay cool.
  • Sat under a ceiling fan and ate cold meats, cheese, dips, bruschetta, crackers, crusty bread, olives and lots of different salads (a fab cold Christmas lunch on such a hot day).
  • Wore silly hats after pulling Christmas crackers.
  • Watched my niece and nephew squealing and hurling themselves down their new blow-up waterslide and paddling pool that just fits into their little inner-city backyard.
  • Read books about dinosaurs with the young Jedi.
  • Promised my niece some holiday sketching outings.
  • Discussed possible names for the new bubbas about to arrive in the family.
  • Chatted to my sister as we cleaned up the kitchen.
  • Opened presents brought to us by the Christmas elves (my niece and nephew).
  • Arrived home feeling pooped.
  • Lay on the couch and binged on Das Boot on SBS On Demand (recommended).

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I like to look at beautiful things

By Vita Forest

Yesterday I saw

  • From the train – mauve jacaranda blossoms rubbing shoulders with swathes of magenta bouganvillea blooms.  The sight of it momentarily silenced the woman behind me on the train in mid-sentence.
  • The headland of Barangaroo on the approach from Wynyard.  Noticing how the lush terraces of Sydney trees are now obscuring the paths along the hillside.
  • The splendid sight of all those beautiful clay vessels at the Clay Canoe stall at the Finders Keepers Market at Barangaroo.  All those layers and lines of vases and sculptures, as if a bunch of drawings from Shaun Tan’s books had come to life and were congregating together.  I mentioned this to one of the owners – apparently I was not the first to make such a comparison.  They did not know Shaun Tan’s work and were going to have to look it up…
  • A gorgeous gal from my class who noticed me as I stood lounging in the shade of the entrance of The Cutaway sketching the Stoop Bros’homemade, steam punk airstream trailer.  Kids are always amazed to discover I don’t actually live at school…
  • Sketchers perched in shadowy spaces under trees on the terraced steps on the hills of Barangaroo.  After a week of crazy, unpredictable weather, it was hot and sunny.
  • A family paddling barefoot in the water lapping over the sandstone slabs at Nawi Cove, Barangaroo.
  • A nifty paint palette made by one of the sketching gang from a tiny fishing tackle case.
  • The smiles on the faces of the Stroop brothers as we surprised them by holding up our sketches of their stall.

I chatted to one of the potter-extraordinaires from Clay Canoe as I stood admiring their wares.  I explained that I was not in the market for another of their vases just at that current moment (having already bought one very recently).  ‘So you just like looking at beautiful things?’ she remarked.

Indeed.  Indeed I do like to look at beautiful things.

View from the bridge

By Vita Forest

Sepia scene

holding Max’s hand as he kicked along

in bright red raincoat

exclaiming at trains and pylons and ferries and puddles

everything washed new and clean and bright

Little fireman

out for a stroll in the rain

Film footage

sweeping across the span by leaps and bounds

rehearsing dance steps

barefoot exhilaration

A swan escaped from the lake

free enough to feel that

Anything was possible

Zoom into frame

The descent on the narrow staircase

Singing show tunes and

Finding that pair of abandoned heels

(Cinderella realising she may as well lose

Two if she was letting go of one)

Trying on those glass slippers and discovering

they were just my size

Walking through city streets

In someone else’s shoes

Things of my table

By Vita Forest

Things on my table

  1. Three scarlet pomegranates in a blue pottery bowl.
  2. A streaky white resin bowl containing shells from various sea-side holidays, mostly pale.
  3. A stack of four water colour palettes that screw together to form a pleasing shallow cylinder.
  4. A tall vase of luscious pink and cream peonies.
  5. A hexagonal glass jar half-filled with water.
  6. Two writing notebooks and sharp HB pencil.
  7. A 6B graphite pencil, solid lead sharpened with a knife, pewter-coloured shards flaking off to form a point.
  8. My sketchbook and a wad of thick, textured water colour paper.
  9. Two cats, alternating between napping and eyeing the bobbing heads of the peonies, aliens from The World Outside.
  10. A finished sketch of those pomegranates in their blue bowl.

The acorn

By Vita Forest

On that first day

In the gardens of the Imperial Palace

(In the part that you can visit

If you are ordinary

And not royal)

Lucy found an acorn on the pathway

Gleaming in the rain

We looked around but could not see

Totoro

Perhaps he was atop one of the lush leafy trees

That dripped rain onto the soft grass

and the beds of thickly-planted iris

Perhaps he still had his wide black umbrella

And did not need our smaller paler shelters

Translucent as raindrops

Forest sprite

By Vita Forest

One day,

While focusing on where

I placed my feet

Amongst the rough uneven rocks

And crawling roots of ancient cherry trees

On the slopes of the Kumano Kodo,

I heard behind me the sound of a

Strider

Fast approaching

Heels ringing on stone.

I glanced behind me

And met

The eyes of a small boy

Who blinked and passed me by

Without a word

Continuing on at the same fast clip

He favoured,

Up around the corner and

Sailing out of sight

Amongst the trees

While I continued slow and crablike

Testing the moss between the rocks

With my pole and two-pronged stick

Finding the firmest way.

And I wondered

Had I imagined him?

This small child

improbably alone

Was he a forest sprite?

floating through the forest

with such confidence?

But later

At a lookout

I saw him again

Swinging his legs

as he munched on a snack

and looked out

At the mountains that receded

in layers

Far into the distance

He sat apart from the

weary walkers resting beneath a shelter

He sat and ate and looked

and waited

His face splitting into a grin

When the rest of his family

Finally

Caught up.

He had proven his point

He was as fast

As the wind.