Ninety-second Day

Ninety-second Day

walking slowly downhill  Ninety-second Day, December 13, Goolwa, the Murray mouth   This morning I wake and instead of driving home away from Milang, Goolwa and the mouth of the river I decide to walk to it again, perhaps for the last time.   As I wake I feel a great need to see the wide flat sand at low tide, the rolling breakers crashing in and the misty haze in the distance, to feel the fresh wind in my face once more.   Perhaps, I think, this second walk will secure the fitness required to be present at the mouth as I walk over the last sandy rise.   But I could walk it a thousand times (I’m now laughing aloud at my own vanity to think that twice would do it; or, then thinking kindly of myself, I consider that perhaps it’s just the inexperience of a beginner that causes such vast miscalculations to take place) and still not be able to describe it in even a remotely adequate language.   I drive to the end of the narrow road that winds along the strip of land separating the ocean from the lake.   I cross the dunes again, over the same path and descend onto the beach.   I begin.   Eventually I walk past the same fisherman I saw yesterday, sitting in the same spot with the same expression on his face.   Two rods are sunk into the sand on either side of his beach chair, exactly where they were yesterday.   And the mouth is exactly where it was yesterday, with seemingly the...
Ninety-first Day

Ninety-first Day

walking slowly downhill  Ninety-first Day, December 12, Goolwa   I’m walking through the town of Goolwa after having walked, over the last two days, into the little valleys and over the crested hills that rise all through the twenty-nine kilometers from Milang .   It’s a bright sunny day and the wind blows cool and insistent from the south-west.   I walk the bitumen road that runs along the tiny strip of land between lake and sea until I reach a wide-open space used as a car park for those that run their down the ramp and into the blueness.   Then I climb up the dunes walking along a path made entirely of wooden slats.   I walk up and down dunes and valleys, all covered with multi-coloured succulents that have just sprouted emerald green tips, until as I climb over the last rise I come upon a view of the southern ocean.   Endless.   Festooned as far as my eyes can see with an infinite number of waves, each at a slightly different moment of their constant rising and falling, each graced by the sparkling green-blue of transparency or the iridescent white of their foam.   As I watch their infinite number being conceived, then birthed and subsequently disappear into an inconceivably dense interconnectedness I think of my mother and my father and the gift of my own birth.   And the gift of my presence here at the water’s edge at this very moment and upon each subsequent moment (even this one now, typing away at my keyboard, listening to the blessed, loving inanity of...
Eighty-ninth and Ninetieth Days

Eighty-ninth and Ninetieth Days

walking slowly downhill Eighty-ninth Day, December 10, Milang Ninetieth Day, December 11, Milang Windswept prairies, sparse grasses, bare trees, sullen green water of a lake that’s neither salty nor sweet, ruined houses abandoned long ago, dull eyes. I walk amongst this again. Or is all that the substance I carry in me and then project upon sweetest, kindest lands and their peaceful histories? It feels like a dream that cannot exhaust itself; it simply resumes its residency in me at different times of the day and night. In two days the walk along the river from Robinvale to Goolwa will come to an end when I walk into the surf of the Southern Ocean. Then it will be Christmas once more. Will I keep walking afterwards? So many of us will be missing; my eldest daughter healing alone somewhere on the east coast, my father gone now almost two years to the day, my mother four months ago. Others too. Walking has somehow become immanent in the rest of what I am, what I do. So it won’t end when the river walk ends. And it didn’t begin when I descended from the snowy slopes of Mount Kosciuszko down into Tom Groggin. I have more to say about that. Perhaps when I can speak again I will say it. Then again, I may not. Or, someone may not. It’s gotten dark while I’ve been writing this. Through the crack of the cabin’s curtains I can see the caravan park light; new moon tomorrow morning will shine unseen over my second-last...
Eighty-eighth Day

Eighty-eighth Day

walking slowly downhill  Eighty-eighth Day, December 9, Melbourne     It’s very early in the morning of my departure back to Milang and the walking.   I’ve come down to the water just to say my goodbye, though I’m not sure to whom or to what.   As I stand by the shore I am just realizing that everything, otherwise known as ‘it’, actually really is ‘what it is’.   In other words, all of it, each single thing individually or the entire big universal messy cloud of dust and gas, it all ‘is what it is’.   People occasionally say it, I hear it as I walk past someone or overhear a phone conversation, usually earnest; ‘Oh, it is what it is…’   Even a good friend of mine says it a lot convinced that it constitutes words of wisdom, or even a life-transforming phrase, if injected into the right context at just the right moment.   But even if each time I’ve heard it it’s made no sense, or has been so seemingly obvious that I’ve ignored it, suddenly it’s blazing bright in big letters on my horizon.   Why is this?   Perhaps because I suddenly recognize that saying it or hearing it said simultaneously brings both a sense of separation and of connectedness to the forefront of one’s mind, as though each condition is actually an inextricable part of the other.   Epimetheus said ‘each object has a separate science’; maybe that has something to do with it.   After all aren’t we are all inexorably aligned to our is-ness?   I know that at...
Eighty-seventh Day

Eighty-seventh Day

walking slowly downhill  Eighty-seventh Day, December 8, Melbourne   It’s an extraordinarily windy evening.   All the blinds in the apartment snap and whip as if possessed by some inner force.   They can’t keep still for a second; the sudden mad gusts roaring in from the southern ocean across the Heads either suck them flat into the fly-wire or spit them out away from the window, and then, like sails clinging onto the cross- masts, they hold on desperately to their fittings so as to not be ejected into the room.   They clank and rattle and snap, even though I’ve wound the windows shut.   And suddenly I am inside a sailboat making a crossing, unsure as I am of my departure point or my destination.   I look around me closely to better verify my surroundings; I am indeed inside the cabin of this strange vessel, heading out across space to who knows where.   It feels like the Bounty after the mutiny, sailors and officers and islanders all sleeplessly waiting for the heavens and the wild seas to indicate the direction they must now take, now that the wild thing has been done, now that the commitment to a hitherto unthinkable action has been made.   I try and sleep down in hold, formerly my room, but no luck.   The seas roll and shake and boil, and I must simply wait out for fate’s anger to fade, for its resentment at how things have unfolded to soften in the light of day’s reason.   There is no food in the scullery, only some scraps....
Eighty-sixth Day

Eighty-sixth Day

walking slowly downhill  Eighty-sixth Day, December 7, Melbourne   We wake early.   Daylight has barely broken.   Everything was packed the day before but there’s always last minute panic; something is missing.   But it’s found.   The drive to the airport is calm, there’s plenty of time.   We don’t say much; departures are usually shrouded in silence.   We manage to find the last car park on Level One.   Then there’s a long walk to Terminal Four.   But everything aligns.   The bags are of course overweight but I just pay the surcharge, there’s nothing else that can be done.   Boarding pass is printed, bags checked in; I buy a coffee and a mineral water for Emma.   Brunetti’s airport café is a pale imitation of its Carlton parent, like a child attempting to follow in its famous mother’s footsteps.   The coffee also attempts to follow, and it does so badly.   After a kilometer’s walk we reach the gate; everything is slow and measured and we anticipate the parting.   We’re at the head of the queue and the door to the waiting aircraft opens; we embrace and I try to sum up in my feverish mind the most significant aspects of both what has taken place and what must now be done, and then quietly pour them into Em’s ear.   But they sound like Brunetti’s coffee tasted.   To her credit she listens gracefully, tears lining her cheeks.   She walks out into the greyness towards the aircraft and we exchange waves until she sat the top of the...