This week

By Vita Forest

Near Woolwich Dock, Sydney

This week or so I have been

WRITING

READING

  • We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  • La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

LISTENING to podcasts on ABC Radio

WATCHING Killing Eve on ABC iView

Woolwich Dock

WALKING around

  • Willoughby
  • the Lower North Shore
  • Hunters Hill and Woolwich

Cherry blossom in Hunters Hill

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Blue Gum (for Lucy)

By Vita Forest

Where you enter

we heard

The angry screeches of white cockatoos

Glimpsed white flashes wheeling in the blue sky

above the silver-trunked treetops

Watched as they swung around and about and around again

As we descended into green shade

You may hear the sound of six species of frogs

And we did

or at least we heard one

singing its percussive scraping

as we picked our way beside the creek

over mossy rocks and

fretted roots aslant

under the lacy shelters of tree ferns

Continue straight to where a track comes in from the left

and follow the blue wren

It was the blue wren that showed us the way

The hop of the wren along the dried spikes of grass

The scratch of the bush turkey in the undergrowth

And down in a dappled gully

A warbling chorus of currawongs

Across the bridge, stop for lunch

Sitting cross-legged by the river and

pinching a peck of grated carrot

on a smattering of grated beetroot

laid on the soft spongy whiteness of

the halved baguette piled with shards of

cheese and khaki rounds of

pickles and leaves of

lettuce and slivers of

translucent cucumber closed between

the covers of two golden crusts

and two rows of teeth.

At the first junction

Walking past the facilities and

missing the ghostly W

that means the girls enter

at the door marked OMEN and

Return to the start of the walk.

This week

By Vita Forest

On the Two Creeks Track, Roseville

This week I have been

WRITING and REWRITING poems

READING Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman

RETURNING to school

PRACTISING

  • for our big audition for an inter-school performance at the Sydney Opera House
  • for an item at assembly
  • for an item at a school performance night

Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney

VISITING Hyde Park Barracks on a school excursion

ATTENDING Writers’ Circle and having a good laugh and a good chat and a good listen to some good writing

MAKING mandalas in the playground out of found materials with a bunch of Year 3 and Year 4 children

Gordon Creek, Two Creeks Track, Roseville

WALKING and TALKING with Saskia and Vastra at Roseville and Waverton

Wattle trees on the Two Creeks Track

SPENDING time out in the winter sun (it’s warmer outside than in here in Sydney)

SEEING a whole crowd of women doing Tai-chi with coloured parasols beside Chatswood Oval.

This week

By Vita Forest

Castle Cove

This week I have been

WRITING a short story, some poems, a Maths program and a bit of my novel

READING up on Japan

WATCHING a Harry Potter marathon with Lucy

Towards Castle Cove from the Harold Reid Foreshore Track, Middle Cove

EXPLORING part of Willoughby on a few sections of the Round Willoughby Walk with Lucy.  We managed 19km! and

Castlecrag

TESTING to see if some borrowed hiking shoes will do the job (they will)

Middle Cove

CLIMBING the equivalent of 110 stories as we marched up and down headlands, cliffs and hills on many many stairs and

Castlecrag from Middle Cove

ADMIRING many lovely views and

Can you see the wrecks in the bay?

SPOTTING the wrecks of old boats in Salt Pan Creek and

A lyrebird! Right there!

SEEING lots of birds – wrens, magpies, lorrikeets and other parrots and even a  lyrebird in suburban Sydney and

NOTICING many many plants – ferns, wattle and other native plants in flower

ATTENDING

  • a Poetry Workshop
  • a Weaving with Weeds Workshop with Briony and making a basket out of green waste

VISITING the Maritime Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition with my parents and children

CHOREOGRAPHING a class item for next term

RIDING my bike

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

WRITING

READING

  • When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
  • The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

VISITING Balmoral Beach for some sketching on a beautiful sunny winter’s morning.

WATCHING The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 – OMG!!!!

HAVING a very interesting discussion at Writers’ Circle about how we each write and edit and generally fit writing into life.

DOING a whole bunch of yoga.

SEEING our performance through fresh eyes at the dress rehearsal in front of the whole school (it went well – phew!)

On Ghost Nets

By Vita Forest

Ghost nets – that’s what they call the lost and abandoned fishing nets that float the ocean, moving with the tides, travelling large distances and trapping fish and birds and dolphins, sharks and turtles.  At the Australian Museum, there is a display of Ghost Net Art, made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to raise awareness of this problem and to turn something destructive into something wonderful.

I visit the museum with a bunch of sketchers, fanning out through the rooms armed with sketchpads and pencils and watercolours and brushes.  I am attracted to texture, to roughness, to coarse surfaces, woven rope, splintered wood, twisted wire.  And so I find myself among the ghost nets, read the stories, read how these massive artworks came to find themselves suspended from the ceiling and crawling up the walls of the Australian Museum.

I stand in front of a giant crab, a huge disc of netting and woven spirals and multi-coloured ribbing stretched over wire.  I sketch out the outline and begin to map out its limbs and scribble and hatch the barnacles of its body as it hangs breathless against the wall.  I stand in front of it, where the light haze dims and brightens in time to the story on the screen beside me that starts up again and again at the touch of a child’s finger.  Across the way, a projection of Bangarra dancers twist and contort, and children shriek and try to catch the slippery bodies of fish made of light that dart beneath their feet across the floor.

And when I finish my scribbly, gnarled, ancient crab, I sit on the floorboards, too tired to stand now, not wanting the bench, the angle is just not right for the fish, the cod, floating high above our heads.  So I sit on the floor, out of the way, but still visible to the boy who slides down beside me to peer at my paper as his mother reads about the crocodile spirits, about the men who could hitch a ride on the back of a crocodile without fear.

‘That’s good,’ he whispers when it’s time to go, when he is called to stand up, to climb up and follow her away.

And I think about the legend of the cod and the crab who watched each other and fell in love.  And I think about the people combing those northern beaches for nets not shells.  And I think about them stretching and cutting and twisting the nylon into new shapes, new stories.  And how I am taking the ghost nets and stretching them out in a new way on my page.  And wondering if we could make something this shape, this size at school out of other thrown-away things.

And I think about the ghost net that caught me this week, floating unaware beneath the surface of everyday life, waiting, hovering beneath the flow of it.  And how I was gutted and let down, thrashing in my net, struggling to take a breath, to remember the good, until I was cut out in time, set free to slither out into the clear, warm water again.

And I think in the end, that’s all we can do – scoop up the ghost nets whenever we find them and take them out of the water so they won’t catch anyone else and try to turn them into something beautiful.

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

READING A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

WRITING school reports!!

THINKING about ideas for poems

SHARING and LAUGHING at writers’ circle

VISITING The Strand Arcade with sketch club and

TRYING not to sample too many of the delights on offer…

LISTENING to two of my boys play Despacito on the trumpet and saxophone

CRAMMING a lot into a short week of school.

DRIVING my children all over the place on the weekend…

WALKING with Vastra on a brisk, early winter’s evening.