Swimming Meditation

By Vita Forest

Another hand-written post from the holidays…

Kiama rock pool

Rock pool at Kiama’s Blowhole Point

This morning I did a swimming meditation at Kiama’s Blowhole Point. The water was clear and clean, magnifying the dappled base of the pool – rocks, moss and seaweed. At the end of each lap, my fingers sank into soft moss and my toes kicked against limpets. I counted my laps back and forth and watched the pelicans spiralling up in the sky and the rogue waves surprising the figures lounging on the rocky headland, momentarily flooding the pool with white water.

Two old men greeted each other while they rested between laps, commenting on the quality of the water (better than yesterday). A woman floated on a surf-mat, fingers trailing in the water while the skin on her back sizzled. Toddlers paddled in the shallows while their parents sat up to their waists in the warmer water. A curious helicopter flew north, red against the sky. Children flung themselves shrieking into the deep water, and a girl stood Amazonian and strong, toes gripping the pool’s edge, as a wave smashed around her ankles.

Back and forth I went, watching surfers in flippers leap off seaweed-shrouded rocks just at the right time, paddling furiously away from the jagged black basalt headland before the waves crashed again. I swam on my back north to south, and on my front south to north, keeping the worst of the sun’s glare out of my eyes.

I looked up toward the lighthouse and reflected how so many of the views in Kiama are from the low-angle, turning humans into monumental figures against the horizon – a boy on a scooter, a couple standing on a hill, and a girl riding a horse near the showground. I looked up from my low angle in the water, up over the grass toward the end of the headland, and wondered if I’d ever, in my whole life, see the blowhole spouting water so far up into the sky you could see it from the mountains.

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wALKING in a wINTER wONDERRRLAND

By Vita Forest

Wonderland?

Wonderland?

9am in the morning and it’s already 28 degrees C.  Driving through the drowsy streets and parking the car a few blocks away, not even attempting the crawl into the car park.  (It’s the Saturday before Christmas and all that.  But we still need groceries).

Unloading my pull-along shopping trolley and pulling it behind me under the trees and the high rises.  Glancing at the current crop in the shared veggie garden at the side the apartment block near the park (cherry tomatoes, beans).  A white haired couple walking hand in hand, he in long grey pants and a tie, she in crisp white linen.  A stroll in the cool of the pine trees.  Crossing paths with a swaybacked pregnant woman, pushing a pram.  Empty at the moment, perhaps brought along just in case?

Doors sliding back at the entry to the shopping centre like lips stretching into a fake smile.  A blast of cold air and competing pop songs greeting me.  Shoppers striding back and forth, past scrolling billboards and an older couple sitting primly and silently in tall black winged armchairs.  The ambient music of the centre entreats us to go “walking in a winter wonderland.”  Sweat dripping down by back, lips pursed in concentration.

Swinging off the main path and around to the escalator down to the supermarket.  Santa cocooned in scarlet and fur, awaiting visits from children in the line already stretching out of sight.  At the front of the queue, a woman, her long hair straightened, holding two chihuahuas…  Detouring to the toilets and almost running into a Dad and Daughter.

“Stop!” she squeals at him and bends down slowly to carefully lift the yellow elastic strap back up over her ankle from where it has fallen under her heel.  Her sandals are blue and yellow and she really likes them.  She stands importantly and rocks back and forth on the heels.

In the dumpling shop, the workers stand around a spotlit bench in white robes, gloves, caps and masks.  As if they are performing surgery.  “Christmas dumplings!”  a sign shouts, the casings are green and red but “ALL natural!”  apparently.  Christmas trees flashing with hot white lights, Sale!

Entering the supermarket and loading my trolley with cherries and nectarines in season.  Remembering the cheese, forgetting the rice.  Paying for the haul then getting outta there, back onto the hot street beneath the colourless garlands of lights strung between the buildings, resting during the daylight.  Back along the road toward the station, the yellow and grey train streaking by over the bridge while the cars duck under it.  Past the teenage boys slouching past on scooters and skateboards.  Past the park where a toddler claps her hands as her parents feed the pigeons forming a fluttering grey puddle around her.  Past “that house with the garden”, neatly trimmed lawn lined with pots and clipped fuschias and roses.  Five pots of the footpath “Chilli and Basil plants” written in texta on a piece of cardboard.  “Ring the doorbell to buy.”  The succulents squatting in terracotta beside them.

The whirr of a machine across the road and a cloud of white dust drifting across the front garden.  Turning my head to see what they are doing and tripping and going flying hard onto the footpath, my trolley tipped behind me.  Crawling to my feet  and inspecting my knees and legs for grazes.  Tilting up the trolley and dragging it around the corner to the car.  Driving home again,  the heel of my hand burning where it hit the concrete.

 

Something’s in the schoolyard…

By Vita Forest

IMG_3353[1]

Despite being nestled in suburbia, our school is home to a large number of creatures.  Some of these are:

  • Kookaburras sitting silently in trees, tilting their heads inquisitively, on the lookout for lizards or perhaps something tasty from a lunchbox.  It’s no laughing matter.
  • Sulphur-crested cockatoos with yellow quiffs and pigeon-toed claws, so smart they have learned to open school bags that are not zipped up properly.  The bins in the playground have to be placed flush against poles as they have also learned how to grasp the lids and flip them open.
  • Silky, velvet-soft, tan-coloured rabbits with white cotton-ball tails that appear when the playground is quiet.  Witnessing one such visitor, Lucy remarked that we were “so lucky” at our school to have these little bunny friends.  The principal may not agree.
  • When it rains, there are ducks that enjoy the puddles and plovers that pick their way through the sodden grass, and worms that wriggle out of the dark, muddy earth and make kids shriek as they stretch across the asphalt and into their path.  Some get picked up between index fingers and thumbs and curled inside small palms to be inspected before they are carried back to the safety of a garden bed.
  • Worms too are plentiful in the compost bin, they flail and turn away from the shaft of light invading their home as I empty in the current day’s Fruit Break scraps.
  • Technicolour Rainbow Lorrikeets with their whirring wings that like to move in packs and pick at any food left on the ground.  We have a rule at eating time that we pick up three things and put them in the bin before going to play.  We are trying to improve their diet.  When its the right season, they can be found chirping and swaying off the scarlet bottlebrush blossoms.
  • Deep in the dark recesses of my paint cupboard there is a plastic box housing creepy, crawly mealworms so the students can observe the various stages of their lifecycle.
  • Unfortunately there are sometimes cockroaches too.
  • Occasionally there are red-back spiders which cause the budding arachnologists to send alerts to the teachers or the office staff and hold back the crowds with much self-importance,until someone arrives with a spray or a thick heel to grind them under.
  • And recently a new visitor, a brush turkey migrating down from the Tropics in these days of climate change.  These large birds have picked their way south, scratching through the fingers of bush, across roads and into gardens, right into the middle of Sydney.  The brush turkey struts about the playground, cocky as you like, that is until the bell rings and students stream out of the classrooms.  Then it makes a dash for it, across the road, or out on the footpath, or across those thick white lines that mean “out of bounds”.  Much to the amusement of the children.