This week

By Vita Forest

Fig tree on the way to Bush Bank Steam Mill, Kiama

This week I have been


  • reports!
  • and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (nearly finished)



  • Vivid in Sydney
  • Gerroa with Sui-Sui and Alessandro and


Bombo headland

  • Bombo Headland
  • Kiama

Dry stone walls, Kiama

  • Gerringong (for a mighty fine burger – thanks Betty and Bob for the tip!)
  • Minnamurra Rainforest and

Suspension bridge at Minnamurra Rainforest

    DISCOVERING a new place in Kiama (my children were most surprised such a place exists)  – the ruin of the Bush Bank Steam Mill

    Bush Bank Steam Mill ruin

    SEEING lots of wildlife including

    • two lots of whales off the coast!  (From Gerringong and Bombo)
    • Fairy wrens at Bombo

    Jenny wren at Bombo Beach

    • Lyrebirds at Minnamurra Rainforest
    • Cows at Kiama (maybe not so wild)

    Cows with a view, Kiama

    • Wattlebirds, lorrikeets, king parrots, rosellas and more

    EATING lots of delicious cooking at the holiday home in Gerroa

    RELAXING after some very busy times at school

    Lex and Ruby

    By Vita Forest


    Springing from the sandstone

    Slicing into the water

    Fingers first

    Feet last

    The water cold and clear and shocking.

    He pushes it behind him in great armfuls

    Hears the pop and fizz of fish chanting in the shadows

    The quiet burble of water filling his ears.


    He erupts from the water

    And she watches from the window

    Sipping tea, spying.

    Enjoying the water streaming off his shoulders

    The flick of his head sending the hair off his face

    The spout of water he spits from his mouth

    Returning it to the harbour.


    She watches as he strokes off towards the zoo

    The spirals of steam stroking her face

    Like his hands did

    Not long ago.


    He swims

    His eyes at the level of the water

    Now above, now below

    Rising and dipping

    In, out

    Air, water

    Alternating clarity with blur.


    Then he sees it

    Spinning across the surface

    A bobbing brown bulb

    A traveller

    That fits in the palm of his hand.


    He sweeps it before him

    Bats it, flings it

    A ball, a toy, a message in a bottle

    A promise.


    Back on land

    Scrambling over mossy rocks in bare feet

    Cradling the bulb

    Slick and shiny in his fingers

    Until under a fall of scarlet crescents

    he sees the dark soil.


    Searching for a stick and

    Digs, scrapes, turns up the earth

    Pushes in the bulb

    Finding it a home.


    Not knowing what he has sown

    A plant, a garden, a love, a tribe, a story

    All there

    beneath the warm earth.

    This week

    By Vita Forest

    This week I have been


    READING Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

    WATCHING Dance Academy Season 3 (Aaah!)

    WALKING with Saskia and Rowdy from Neutral Bay to Mosman Bay around the headlands and

    SEEING this sign at Kurraba St Wharf and

    VISITING the pool at Cremorne Point (alas not for a swim) and

    ADMIRING the banksia flowers along the path and

    SEEING this winsome little creature in the Lex and Ruby Graham Gardens at Cremorne

    PICNICKING at Clive Park in Northbridge with some bookish friends and

    ADMIRING the view (friends, food, books and beautiful places!) and

    CELEBRATING the good life.


    Some good news from America

    By Vita Forest

    Though we risk being trampled

    By updates on Trump,

    The doom that is looming,

    The lies, fear, rage, talk of war, catastrophes, down-turns and dire warnings.


    Yet even now amid the screaming headlines

    I find

    Good news from America.


    It seems that

    after five years of drought

    then welcome winter rain

    the hills of California are blooming,

    festooned with orange poppies,

    waving on the hills

    beaming up at the sun

    so many of them that they can be seen from Space.


    Think of those aliens looking down at the tangerine glow

    At humans taking time out to wander in fields of flowers

    That go on and on

    Further than the eye can see

    Imagine walking those hills, hands outstretched

    Getting lost amongst the beaming, bobbing poppies

    Simple pleasures

    Lying back and looking up at the blue sky

    Sight fringed by golden flowers.


    And though the world rolls on

    And it appears that disaster cannot be avoided,

    Remember this is happening now too.

    So clutch your bouquet of Californian poppies

    Close to your heart.



    By Vita Forest

    Papped by a sketch buddy at The Cutaway, Barangaroo

    Last week sitting in The Cutaway at Barangaroo, a place that I’ve been so many times before and seen “dressed up” is many different ways – with a cardboard city, with hundreds of yogis, with thousands of white balls converting it into a dry beach.  But for Aurora Eora, the space was mostly physically empty and yet it was transformed.  It became a space to linger in, to reflect in, to close your eyes and be in (and in my case a space to get lost in a drawing in.)  What made it so?  What changed this big cavernous space, made people want to walk slowly to its centre and sit down?  Lie down?  Stop?

    It was music.

    The voices of the Australian Children’s Choir echoed through the vast interior reminding me of monks singing acapella incantations in a sacred space.  With speakers placed in a circle facing the centre of The Cutaway (to which we were encouraged by a pathway made up of strings of electric bulbs, like giant fairy lights, standing in for church candles), voices and rich harmonies washed over you from all directions.  People sat and looked about.  Looked up at the ceiling, looked at the rock cliff face, strolled quietly up and down.  There was nothing much to take a selfie with, it was just a quiet place to linger and reflect.

    (Later as I wandered over the hilltop I heard the music again, this time drifting out of the large vent that opens at the top of The Cutaway.  Again, it altered the mood of the people who heard it, turning the Frisbee players into ballet dancers as they spun and leapt.  It called a gentle invitation to curious passers-by to try and locate the source of music – like a benign Pied Piper.)

    And later, as I drove somewhere or other, I was listening to RN and caught the extraordinary story of Andrew Schulman who created Medical Musicians after music saved his life – literally.  He was deep in a coma with nothing more to be done when his wife played his favourite piece of music (Bach’s St Mathew’s Passion) and the medical team watched in amazement as his vital signs changed before their eyes.  They had verifiable and measurable scientific data that proved the power of music.  Schulman went on to create Medical Musicians playing Bach and other carefully selected pieces to patients in trauma wards as an “effective, non-invasive treatment” which “produced certain chemicals in the body” and “allowed the body to relax and heal”.

    And I remember years ago, doing a meditation course and the teacher talking about “cleansing” your home by playing calming music in it – even if you were not there.  Leaving on some classical music and going out and letting the sound change the energy.

    And think about my students over the years and how they love “doing Relaxation” where I put on some Vivaldi or Bach and they lay down on the floor and closed their eyes for a few minutes.  (If we missed it one day for some reason, they were quite put out).  How kids with behavioural problems would choose listening to music as one of their strategies for calming down, settling themselves.  They even started doing it at home, their parents reported back to me.

    And even my cat Zadie, flopping down on this table on which I write, choosing to curl up right in front of the portable speaker from which Richard Tognetti plays the Bach Violin Concertos, the sound making the whole table reverberate, I can feel the physical sensation through my arms as I write.

    There is something quite amazing about music.  You can’t listen to it in the past or the future, it makes you “be” here in the present.  Right here.  What is your soundtrack for calm?



    This week

    By Vita Forest

    Spit to Manly walk, Sydney

    This week I have been 

    WRITING She should be

    READING the lovely poems of Misuko Kaneko (Are you n Echo?)

    GETTING back to the gym after missing it for about 10 days (all those parent teacher interviews…) My mental and physical health is much improved.

    HOSTING Bookclub and 

    EATING slow cooker pulled pork (mmm mmm).

    PLANNING programs and units of work for next term.

    FINISHING Term 1

    SKETCHING again after all the rain, at the truly delightful Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour.

    CATCHING up with Fleur and having a cuppa and a laugh.

    WALKING the iconic Spit to Manly walk with Vastra and Saskia then

    SWIMMING at Shelly Beach at Manly – a weekend can’t get much better than that!

    Skubiszewski on the wireless 

    By Vita Forest

    Car coasting, gliding, sliding

    down the slick road

    for the millionth time

    when the chiming through the speakers

    alerts me to this moment

    – Here.



    Pulls me back to my body

    To my seat

    To the reverberating space between my ears

    Clear as two hands

    Firm on my shoulders


    It says,

    And I thumb up the volume

    Be here 

    in this jaunty, curious place

    And I look past the rainspeckled glass

    As the car descends

    And we are floating,

    Drifting with the fog that is

    Rising in sheets, in veils

    Come up from the river


    The trees are grey lace layers

    Looming and swaying apart

    And we are swimming through a cloud in a car.