By Vita Forest
“Smog is a mixture of smoke and fog,” Lucy informed me today as the train sped into the city through the smog. They are doing a lot of back-burning around Sydney at the moment and the smoke was thick again.
We walked down to Barangaroo to meet our pals for a picnic, the smell of smoke in the air. But over the course of the day, the air cleared, the sun shone, the sky was blue. Another summer day at the end of autumn.
“Is this north?” Lucy asked, pointing forward. When I answered in the affirmative, she observed, “So we are walking towards the Arctic circle.”
Which we were, I supposed.
We waited near The Cutaway. Lucy saw something bright and yellow floating in the water and bounded down the sandstone blocks to see what it was. When she reached the sometimes-submerged rock, she kept going, despite the green moss, despite the slipperiness, and so slid and fell. She stood up gingerly and inspected her hands and her seat as she climbed up again.
“It was a lemon,” she announced as she watched the heel of her hand swell and purple into a bruise. She’s a tough one.
We sat in the sun and waited for Sui-Sui and Alessandro, for Saskia and Rowdy the dog. The phone pinged, updating us on their progress, closer and closer. Sui-Sui and Alessandro arrived first, hauling treats in an esky. It was their first trip to Barangaroo. I advised them to check out The Cutaway while we waited on Saskia, and in they went.
“What’s so good about The Cutaway?” asked Lucy, “It’s just a big empty space full of nothing.”
“Like my life… ” she added, “Just kidding!” Brat.
They returned and the phone rang again, Saskia was around the coastline minding a shady picnic spot by the water. We joined her and Rowdy, spreading out picnic rugs and food.
We lazed in the sun or shade and watched the boats streak past around the headland and caught up on news. We ate quinoa salad, tuna and corn fritters, mandarins and grapes and my new favourite chocolate cake that Lucy and I had made yesterday.
Rowdy made friends with the steady parade of promenading pooches and their owners that passed by. Lucy recovered from her fall and climbed trees, leaped on rocks and did cartwheels. She took Rowdy for runs around the headland and up and down stairs. In the process she earned a fourth piece of chocolate cake (it was very tasty).
We talked about books and movies, parents and friends with babies, markets, studies and future trips. The cake got smaller and smaller.
“Look!” shouted Saskia pointing behind us, “A native mouse!”
“It’s a rat!” corrected Alessandro. But we agreed it was still cute.
The thermoses were empty, the tea was drunk, the last slice of cake disappeared. We rolled up the picnic rugs and said our goodbyes.
“Now we are walking towards Antarctica,” said Lucy.
And we were.