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!

A stroll at twilight

By Vita Forest


Tonight we took a walk.  Lucy and I strolled down the road at twilight with Max click-edy clacking away and back on his skateboard.  We soon turned off the main road and headed up the hill through the quieter streets.  Max scooted ahead until it was flat and swerved along a car-less road.  Our suburb is full of walking tracks and pathways between apartment blocks and we followed him down one such track into the cool damp shade within.  There were brush turkeys scratching about between some trees, but they soon dashed out of the way when the sound of the rolling wheels grinding over concrete alerted them to Max’s presence.   I was suddenly aware of the gradients of the path, the hills, the jutting cracks in the footpath.  Having a fourteen year old on a skateboard will do that to you.

We walked through another track to a park hidden between an apartment block.  Someone had personalised the pathway to their door with ferns and potted palms and a few pink Impatients for colour.  Further on we glanced up at “the hoarder’s house” a balcony we had noticed on another visit, I don’t know what the inside of the apartment is like, but the balcony is overflowing with “useful items” – a microwave oven, an ironing board, piles of chairs and more chairs, a rusting electric fan, a folded banana lounge and boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff.  Makes me feel ill just thinking about it.  Max was pleased with the deserted day care centre area that backed onto the park and was “available to the public” at this after hours hour.  There were gentle slopes, steep inclines and different levels to roar across.  I inspected the rocky course for the water pump and the tiny veggie garden with its neat row of brightly coloured watering cans.  Max and Lucy peeled off their shoes and pulled themselves up to the top of the climbing frame, laying back and looking up at the fading blue of the sky.  Max relaxed into the ropes but Lucy kept a firm grip on the edge.  I lay back on a convenient chair and looked up at the sunset.

Later, Lucy and I inspected the “house” – a part of the park with the outline of a building mapped out with some low walls, some empty window frames and a welcoming wooden door frame.  Inside the “rooms” there are tables, chairs (some moveable) and even a wooden chaise longue.  Every table is decorated with brightly coloured pottery and doily inserts.  It’s very homey.

While waiting for Max to reappear from one of his skating jaunts, Lucy and I were calming watching a couple of brush turkeys pecking around in the damp earth of the park.  Suddenly another, crazier one appeared.  It dashed across the lawn to one of its friends, then proceeded to chase it up into a tree.  Lucy and I watched as they branch-hopped, jump-flew their way up the tree then we scattered as the chas-ee took flight (very badly) and heaved across over our heads before landing on the grass and running off again.  They are not the most graceful flyers.

We walked past the oval, past the grunting footy players on the astro-turf, and turned for home as the light dimmed.  The clouds were chiaroscuro mountains in pink, orange and dazzling gold.  The world smelled fresh and alive after all the rain and our clattering heads had calmed.

Walking does that to you.

This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

READING 

  • Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

WRITING Not even the beginning

MAKING a Harry Potter trivia game with Lucy (feel free to submit question ideas if you like!)

WALKING with Saskia after the rain.

SKETCHING my balcony garden as my sketch club was cancelled due to the rain.

ATTENDING a meeting about the combined schools concert my school is involved in later in the year.

BRAINSTORMING lots of ideas for stories, choreography and costumes for our item.

TRYING another tack with my 4th grade class for poetry writing (providing them with a starting word for each line) and 

DISCOVERING they were poets!

REMEMBERING how when she was in Year 1, one of my current students poo-pooed one of my suggestions for a song to sing at assembly because it was “a kids’ song”!  They could see the humour in that comment now.

Not even the beginning

By Vita Forest

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“You mean this isn’t even part of the walk?” face sweaty, voice grim.

“That’s right.”

I walked on.  We would not turn back, not now, no way.

But now it was THE walk, not a walk from the station, not the walk down the hill but THE walk.  See – the dreaming poles marked it.  It was not the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end but it was the beginning.  There was mutinous muttering from Max and Lucy, Fleur whispered she could take them back.  But no!  We were going to do this walk and we were going to enjoy it…

The kids took off their shoes to wade through the water at Werri Lagoon and did not put them on again on the other side.  They stalked on grimly in barefeet.  And I thought why not? And pulled my shoes off again too.  The grass was soft and buoyant and the wind from the sea felt good on my bare skin.  We stepped along up the hill, away from the beach, away from the shrieks of the swimmers and the drone of the cars and into the silence.

The complaints stopped as we climbed the bare grassy slopes that hid the town and the road.  The kids fell silent and felt the breeze, saw the blue water sinking back from the black rocks, saw the green hills rising away into the distance along the coast and the wildflowers buzzing with butterflies and crickets.  All you could hear was the booming breath of the sea, rising and falling and the hundreds of birds hidden in the undergrowth.

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“Is this The Shire?” they asked, but we didn’t come across any hobbits.


Further on, pelicans flapped by lazily in formation, so close you could hear the air against their wings.  I stopped and stared up at the hill rising to the west and even though it was “just grass” every blade was alive in the wind, not a solid monolithic mound but a writhing, dancing collection of stems, each one clutching a fist full of rattling, plump seeds.

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Later we went off the track into a stand of remnant rainforest – the rainforest that used to run all the way down to the sea.  We sat enclosed in the shady room fretted with tree trunks and ate fruit.  I climbed down deeper and found a circular cairn built around the sinuous roots of a tree that was totally enclosed by the scrubby foliage around it.  Cradled inside it like a snow dome.  Someone else had visited too.

I had promised them cows and we saw some, staring and edgy at Max’s frenzied hooting.  We were disturbed to see an anxious calf on the wrong side of the fence.  We wondered how it had got out and how it would get back?  Barbed wire was strung tight across the top of the fence and the gate we eventually passed was locked.  There was also wild fennel, identified by rubbing its lacy leaves between finger and thumb and inhaling deeply.  Aniseed.


We peeled eggs under a tree at lunchtime and looked back across the path heading south.  And after lunch we came to the stile, THE stile and I told them the story of how, years ago, I had looked at this stile, every day, every time we came down to the beach, the stile in the distance on the headland, near the dry stone walls.  How I’d watch walkers climb over it and hike along the headland, coming from who knew where?  How I stood rooted on the sand, small children at my feet.  Them.  And I had wondered – what had those people seen?  Where had they come from?  With their backpacks on their backs, while I watched, anchored to the beach.  Now I knew.  They were us.  Ten years later but there we were, walking out of the wild.  Walking north along the track.  It was us all that time.

We stopped again at Easts Beach, Lucy tumbling and dancing on the sand and falling into the splits.  Max watching critically and remarking, “When she laughs, her bum shakes.”

And it did.

Max and Lucy swam in the surf (Neptune’s son). I made do with a paddle and Fleur with a siesta under the tight shade of a juvenile pine.

Walking on, I watched a bare-chested man saunter past the “No dogs on the beach” sign carrying two black Chihuahuas, one tucked under each armpit.  He carried them into the water where they bobbed serenely, safe in his arms.

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Can you see the Chihuahuas?

I guess they were never on the beach.

At the end we found we were all sunburnt despite hats, sunglasses and slathered sunscreen.  There were red stripes where we had been absentminded with the lotion.  And my toes… well they appreciated the cool dip at sundown in the rock pool at Blow Hole Point.

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And Fleur said that she doesn’t know if she would do it again.

But she’s glad she did it once.

This week

By Vita Forest

Sunday sunrise at Curl Curl


This week I have been

READING

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit

WRITING

  • At Bombo
  • Programs for school including one on Poetry incorporating David Chapelle’s short film of Sergei Poluntin dancing to Take me to Church by Hozier.  I am excited!

EXPERIENCING Sydney’s extreme weather this week – storms and heavy rain on Tuesday, crazy-high temperatures on Friday and Saturday.

VISITING the water to cool off on the weekend… Murray Rose/Redleaf Pool in Woollahra and Curl Curl Beach.

WALKING AND TALKING with Saskia at Curl Curl after a swim.

BUMPING into an old student and family at Curl Curl (it was all happening at Curl Curl…)

MISSING outdoor sketching due to the extreme temperatures.

MAKING

  • time to relax.
  • time for yoga.

Saturday morning at Refleaf pool, Woollahra

     

     

     

     

    At Bombo

    By Vita Forest


    On Wadi-Wadi land, where Charmian swam, we walk out to Bombo.  We fill up our water bottles from the last tap, pull our hats down low and sling our thumbs through the loops of our backpacks.  The sun grinds down, shadows crouch and hide from its glare, pulling their knees up to their ears.  It’s nearly noon.

    We crouch on the cliff and watch the surfers below as they bob lazily, straddling surfboards and squinting out at the horizon.  Watch as one paddles, then stands and streaks along just in front of the curl of a wave.  An admirer claps and a friendly dog rubs her snout into our open palms.  Watch as another surfer scuttles down a goat track beside us, board beneath his arm, runs, runs down the spit of rock, runs at a retreating wave, then hurls himself onto the fizzing foam.  The sea is wild today.


    We walk on and pause to see A View.  A long-haired boy heaves rocks, chucks them with all his might so they land, just past his feet.

    Heavy.

    “I can do this,” he explains, “coz now I’m six.”

    The water boils and roars and surges high through the red columns.


    His mother shouts, “Stop throwing rocks!  There are people about!”

    And high above on the rocky hill, built with boulder and facing the sea, a shriek, a whoop as the sea slaps down those reckless climbers who sauntered past us moments before.  We make sure they emerge again.  No need to call for help.  Just yet.


    We follow the path deeper, between the tossing grass and humming insects which scatter yellow as we approach.  Into the bowl of the headland, into the hollow, the hole, the crater between the land and the sea.  See how the water rises?  Angry, foaming at the bit.  Seething.  We dare not climb the columns as I’ve done before on another calmer day.  We stand back and feel the spray as the sea finds a crack, smashes hard on solid rock.  It will hold, I imagine, I trust, I hope.  Fishermen peer out to sea behind the barricade of boulders, slinging a line out to sea like a grenade.  The water exploding with a Boom! against the cliffs.


    We pick our way across a desert of red rocks.  Sun scorching down, burning the backs of our necks.  Lizards scurry at our shadows and I stamp hard, warning off the serpents.  I had seen one at this very spot.  Not rainbow but a killer, red and black.  Red for danger!  It lay on the path, soaking up the sun before sinking back into the waving grasses off the track.  Sinking back like the sighing sea as we tiptoed past as far away as we could manage.  We pick our way across the desert of red rocks, calves flex as we balance on those boulders.  Like those surfers on the sea.


     

    This week

    By Vita Forest

     

    This week I have been

    VISITING Kiama for a holiday with a rotating cast of characters – Max, Lucy, Fleur, Betty and Briony.

    WALKING

    • from Gerringong to Kiama with Fleur, Lucy and Max (Lucy, Max and I did most of it barefoot too…)

    • into the strange world of Bombo Headland with Briony – massive waves smashing against the rock columns, very dramatic!

      SWIMMING in the beautiful waters of Kiama’s beaches and rock pools


      SEEING the Kiama blowhole “goin’ off!”


      SKETCHING at the same time as my sketch pals – they in Sydney, I sitting in the seabreeze looking back at the pines around the Kiama showground.

      WRITING Southerly Buster

      GETTING lots of inspiration for future posts

      READING

      • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (How wonderful to visit the world of J.K. Rowling again and this is one of my favourites!!  I was not the only one enjoying J.K. Rowling – there was also Fleur reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Lucy reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban too – a very Hogwarts kind of time)
      • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

      GENERALLY relaxing