This week

By Vita Forest

Queensland Bottle Tree, Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney


This week I have been

READING 

  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (finished at last).
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (highly recommended by Sui-Sui, I have just started).
  • The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raser-Rolland and Adam Grubb (now I know what to call myself!)

SKETCHING a Queensland Bottle tree at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Succulents at the Royal Botanical Gardens


VISITING The Powerhouse Museum with my class (great fun!! My little group just loved revisiting their early childhood in The Wiggles exhibition). 

MAKING an astronaut/aviatrix costume (my sewing machine and table are covered in silver glitter – looks like Tinkerbell has been for a visit).


EATING Belgian Chocolate gelato in Chatswood with my kids – sensational!

WALKING with my kids on a gelato expedition and later in the brisk winter air with Vastra and Saskia.

FINDING that our dance performance group is “all coming together”.

DIRECTING a little play with my class and watching them shine!

This week

By Vita Forest

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


This week I have been

READING

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

WRITING

VISITING

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

REVISITING

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

    Drowned World

    By Vita Forest

    In our own worlds

    Looking at the hidden worlds in the water 

    In the pools left by the sea.

    Balancing, bending, picking, choosing, rubbing rocks through finger tips

    Standing in a field of shells

    Speckling sand

    Shards of glass rubbed smooth by the sea

    The helmet of a crab 

    The tail of a lobster

    Beads of seaweed 

    Chunks of golden sponge

    Hefted lightly in my hand.

    Pockets percussive with clattering collections

    Watching monumental molluscs move

    Millimetre by millimetre

    Twisting paths over black boulders 

    Water winking in the indents of rocks

    Reflecting the sky, the clouds, the light, the face peering down to the flash of opalescence deep down amongst the dark 


    A row of molluscs huddled in a crevice

    Warrigal greens sprawling over black stones 

    Balls of raindrops rolling on the leaves of nasturtiums 

    Looking back at the rearing hill with its indents of cow hoofs and the chatter of hidden birds


    Through eyes, through camera lenses, through words shouted into the wind and the muttered impressions in my mind

    Saving them, holding them til I reach pen and paper, like a handful of sea-smooth stones.

    This week

    By Vita Forest

    Winter banksia flowers near The Coal Loader


    This week I have been

    READING school reports!

    WRITING school reports!

    WATCHING 

    •  War on Waste on ABC
    • Mary Poppins with young Lucy singing and dancing
    • Wicked at Chatswood Concourse

    MAKING 

    • Winter soup
    • Silver space silhouettes for a dance costume 

    SKETCHING at The Coal Loader at Waverton with my good ol sketch pals

      CELEBRATING some good news for Saskia

      DANCING around the living room with Lucy choosing songs to use in my  class play

      FEELING rather exhausted 

      Near The Coal Loader

      This week

      By Vita Forest

      From Clive Park

      This week I have been

      WRITING Lex and Ruby

      READING Lucy’s assignment pitching a movie based on the life of Lin Manuel Miranda – very entertaining!

      MARKING mountains of assessments… (it’s report time)

      WALKING as a break from all the marking

      MAKING bacon, eggs, mushrooms and toast for Sunday brunch

      VISITING Clive Park in Northbridge again to show my kids this lovely spot


      TRYING to decide who to cast in my class play.  Decisions!  Decisions!

       

      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

        Into the Labyrinth

        By Vita Forest

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        I was looking for the labyrinth.

        I had parked in Centennial Park beneath an oak tree, grinding acorns into the dirt as I walked away, past the joggers and the promenaders, the dog walkers, the horse riders, and the soccer games with their shouts and piercing whistles.  I looked across the ponds, noting moor hens and ducks, and turned down the avenue of paperbark trees.  The noises of Saturday sport gradually receded behind the thicket of Lachlan swamp, I checked the map on my phone, I was nearly upon it.

        It is hard to see the labyrinth from a distance.  At first I looked straight over it.  Then I noticed the large flat disc, like a giant coin lying in the green.  The stone labyrinth.  It is a replica of the famous labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, the same pathway, the same pleasing geometry.  This Sydney labyrinth opened in 2014 and anyone is free to use it.

        Labyrinths are different to mazes.  Mazes are designed to trick and baffle, to confuse and unsettle.  With their single pathways, labyrinths are instead a calming journey where you don’t need to solve problems to find your way through.  Instead, by following the path, your mind calms, allowing you to see more clearly, be more present.  It can be a walking meditation, a way of moving into the present moment as you move toward the centre.

        I walked closer to the labyrinth.  There was a group practising tai-chi further off, but apart from them, I was alone.  I found the entrance and began my journey.  The path looped back and forth changing direction, so unless you are constantly looking up, you lose track of your orientation in the park.  I guess that is the point, you are focusing on where you are in the journey, not where you have come from or where you are going.  By locating the labyrinth in a clearing, you also don’t anchor directions to particular trees or other features in the landscape.  It began to rain lightly as I walked, and all I was aware of was the surface of the stone, the turns in the path and the light fall of rain on the brim of my hat.  It brought the focus to a smaller and smaller point.  Suddenly a couple of noisy groups descended toward me, breaking my focus.  I reached the centre and left them to it.

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        The labyrinth had quietened my mind.  I walked around the swamp in the light shower, noticing the luminous green of the ferns, the stillness of the paperbark trees.  Then I came across a track going through it and entered the thick foliage.  It too brought to mind the labyrinth, the sense of enclosure, the blocking out of the world outside.  I watched spiders spin silent webs beneath shady leaves, I saw signage covered with splatters and realised the swamp was home to a colony of flying foxes, hanging upside down from the tallest branches like giant black seed pods.  I walked on, aware of the screeching of the few creatures up past their bed times, into the centre then out again.

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        I emerged near the labyrinth and decided to walk it again.  The gentle rain fell and the tai-chists had moved beneath the shelter of a fig tree, silently stretching, turning and bending in unison.  I entered again, this time aware of the honking of a flock of geese that were pottering around the clearing.  My focus came down again, to my feet, to the path, to the gradations of colour in the stone.  I soon lost track of where I was, what point of the journey I was at.

        You move toward the centre then away again, you travel on a familiar path but further in or further out.  Like life, I suppose, you never know exactly where you are on your journey – the beginning, nearing the end, retracing something that feels familiar, but is seen slightly differently through a altered lens of time or experience.  You don’t know if you are going forward or backwards, sometimes it feels like you are moving further away from your goal, only to find you swing back towards it again.

        I guess sometimes we need to surrender and let things take their course.  You will land in the centre where you were aiming for all along.  You just have to take the journey.  You just have to give it time.