Look

Today was the first full day of sunshine after three weeks of heavy rain. I took a midday walk down the valley to the reserve by the Georges River. I needed time to think outside the confines of the house.

As I walk I look. Really look. And listen.

Listen to the water still gushing down the drains. To an aircraft passing overhead, splitting the few remaining clouds in half. Would I like to be up there flying? I couldn’t decide. It is important.

The gingers and palms are messy and unhealthy in the garden that reminds me of Malaysia. Another house I have ignored for a long time is suddenly visible again. It makes me think of a visitors centre in a national park.

Down at the reserve the river is muddy brown, but no higher than usual. I stand on the concrete jetty and survey the river and its valley.

A sign, tree, mangroves along the waters edge. I am in the tropics. It is humid enough for that, if not so warm. A building, boxy, flat roofed, yellow-cream, looks more like a dining establishment than the too-large house that it is. I imagine sitting there, overlooking the river, choosing a fine meal from the menu.

I realise that I miss a good selection of meals on a menu, one where you could say “That really sounds interesting!” without knowing exactly what you will get. I am bored of cooking, of pub meals and fast food, of standard dishes from any cuisine.

A white-faced heron with grey feathers and tall yellow stick legs cautiously prods at the mud, searching for its own meal.

White-faced heron

I begin walking back the way I came. Past sandstone boulders with their scant vegetation clinging on. I could on a bushland trail, far away from suburbia, until I turn the corner and arrive back in a land of manicured lawns, concrete driveways and multi storey houses.

Taking my time, I look up to the top of the valley and see that there is a cluster of very tall trees lining the stairway down the gully, past the true mansion, the one with the tennis court and the Bentley, just down the street from the Spanish villa with its beautiful garden and across from the tropical resort house. It is the first time I have noticed the trees and I realise how much of the forest has been lost from the suburb.

I do not follow that path home, forgoing the stairs to walk along the road that I came down. I stop to admire the different leaves and flowers along the way, catch glimpses of the river and beyond.

I have walked, looked, listened and thought, but not come to any decisions. Just enjoyed the solitude and the chance to feel the sun on my skin.

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