Gateway

2017 is almost done. Some of us may already be preparing for Christmas, others will be looking forward to the holidays and warmer weather (here in the Southern Hemisphere anyway) and many of us will start to reflect on the achievements and lessons of 2017, and the promises and challenges of 2018.

Normally I spend the final days of December reflecting on the past year but I’m starting early.  It has been a good year, mostly because of the trip to Europe. Everything about where my partner and I went, what we did, who we met and the adventures and misadventures we experienced, was exceptional. I have suffered, however, middling health for most of the year. A cough I developed on the first of January lasted around eighty days. I hurt my back six weeks before we travelled to Europe and in recent weeks an as yet undiagnosed condition has dogged me. None of this dimmed the joy we experienced while away but for most of 2017 I’d have preferred to lie on a couch, read a good book or doze.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like writing, let alone had the energy to sit in front of a computer. Elixir, Concise, my novel-in-progress and numerous drafts of short stories have been ignored, apart from the odd moment when I lifted my head from my book, felt guilty about not having written anything then hastily turned the page and read on. This adds to my usual struggle with sticking to a writing routine so I decided, not long after we arrived home from the trip, to return to notebooks to jot down ideas, record my thoughts and even use coloured pens and pencils to highlight and illustrate my musings.

I went back to pen and paper because writing was no longer a pleasurable activity. Despite my best intentions, blogging became a process of second-guessing my readers and how they might judge what I write. In other words, I stopped writing from my heart. Going back to basics, writing by hand and playing with coloured pencils helped me rediscover the joy of writing. It seems that poor health was really a gateway to a under-developed creative path.

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What does this mean for Elixir and Concise? I cannot maintain two separate blogs, which is why Concise will be retired and the flash fiction stories from that blog will reappear on Elixir, on the page once labelled ‘Sparks’ and now relabelled ‘Concise.’ I will continue to post pieces of flash fiction but as an adjunct to Elixir.

Elixir itself has changed appearance and will be more of an occasional blog rather than something that must be attended to every two to three days.

I recently turned sixty-five, which in Australia was once the age when one officially retired from the paid workforce. I don’t feel old in heart or mind. The insecurities of youth and the challenges of maintaining harmonious relationships still hound me. I also play games with my granddaughter, which means getting down on the floor or kicking a ball with her in the backyard. This year my body has sent me several strong messages; instead of spending hours in front of a computer I need to exercise more, meditate and eat regularly, and get enough sleep. That way, after spending time with the people I love, I will have the energy to write.

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What is your experience? Do you have a habit of reflecting on the past year? Is November or December the best time for you? How do you stay healthy so you can do what gives you joy?

A Precious Resource: Karra wirra-parri.

Just over three years ago Cadence and I bought a house two minutes walk away from  Karra wirra-parri, otherwise known as the Torrens River. As is the tradition here in Australia, I’d like to acknowledge the  Kaurna people whose ancestors first walked this land, and who are the custodians of the land on which I live. The little patch of river near us lies west of the city and some two hours walk (if, like me, you’re a bit unfit) from the mouth of the river, down at Henley Beach. In other words, we live near the Torrens Linear Park, developed in the late 1980s and opened in 1997. The park was the first of its kind in Australia and is the largest hills to coast and flood mitigation park in the land. The river itself is 85 km long, and the park is 35 km. It’s dotted along the way with playgrounds (there are three near us) and it also meanders through the heart of the city, passing the Adelaide Festival Centre, the Adelaide Oval (site of the famous, to cricket lovers, Scoreboard), our State Parliament, the Adelaide Zoo (home to the only two Giant Pandas living in the southern hemisphere), and many other South Australian icons.

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The section of the river near us was once surrounded by market gardens and later, factories. There are still many factories across the river from us and directly behind our home is a very large hole created over ten years ago when contaminated soil was removed from the site. This void was left fallow for well over ten years but since last week a legion of trucks and sundry other soil moving machinery has descended and the hole is being filled. IMG_3333

Today’s walk took us around the hole and the machinery that is, as I write, a not too loud but constant reminder that there are men, front loaders and trucks working a very short distance to the east of us. The first thing I noticed as we walked past the fence surrounding the hole was a bicycle and one of the workers enjoying his tea break while he surveyed the scene below.

Further along, and around the back of the area, Cadence and I took another peek at what was going on. The low, pointed white roof in the photo on the right is our pergola where we often eat dinner and entertain friends and family.

The area that is being filled, plus a large tract of land that wasn’t contaminated, will become a ‘gated community’ of some fifty homes and three 3-storey apartments; the latter overlooking the river (and, in the distance, the factories).

Once we’d had a good look around we walked on, eager to see if the footbridge to the new shopping centre had been opened. IMG_3294

It had. This means the walk to the shops has been cut by around ten minutes and access to good Italian coffee, one of the best fruit and vegetable shops in the area and a book store is much easier.

On the way home I took a few more photographs. The dry mushroom I noticed as I walked took my eye, as did the the dual walking and cycling path leading back to our home. I hope the path gives an indication of how well maintained our park is.

 

Eventually we made it back to our street. The noise from the front end loaders seemed to be louder, however. A few more steps along the footpath and we discovered why:

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Things have certainly changed since we’ve moved in; there are there are seven new abodes in our street alone and at least half a dozen more in surrounding streets but despite the rather intense urbanisation going on around us, we’re lucky to live in this area, this city and this state. But that’s not why I’m writing this post. Several days ago Cadence reminded me that walking promotes creativity. I now spend more than half my day in front of a computer, so I really need to get out of the house more. I live ten minutes drive from the beach and only three minutes walk from Karra wirra-parri, and the advice that writing helps with creativity has worked;  this morning’s walk prompted me to write this post.

Later this week Cadence and I hope to take our three youngest grandkids to the section of the river where the ducks live. We have the appropriate seeds at the ready and the autumn weather continues to bless us, but I have my suspicions that if the heavy machinery is still around the children will, like their grandparents, be more interested in peering through the fence and seeing what the neighbours are up to.

I’d love to learn about your neighbourhood: fancy taking a walk and showing me what’s new, what’s old or what’s good about living where you live?