Tags: creativity, gratitude, Lake Macquarie NSW, Morisset Show, nature
I have been occupied with other things than this blog lately. However, I would like to share a poem with you that I wrote a few years ago. It is about the beautiful Lake Macquarie where I live, and how I saw it one day as I walked along the shore.
The poem was recently commended in the Morisset Show Poetry Competition.
Wangi Bay stretches before me,
a coarse wind-ruffled
patches of dirty brown
tacked onto it here and there
tossed onto the watery quilt
tumble and sparkle among
the grey jetty stripes and squares
and the multi-coloured
that have been tacked on
with contrasting whitecap stitches.
Here and there,
in out-of-the-way places
an occasional dot
of white embroidery –
a bobbing seagull or pelican.
A narrow, irregular strip
of breaking waves
marks the inner border
separating the nautical pattern
from its dark green edging
of eucalypt and casuarina
and spiky Lomandra longifolia
Today, the lake is a patch-work quilt
that I would like to take home with me.
© Linda Visman
11th October, 2010
Tags: Great Ocean Road, memories, Reed Park, scent of pine
It was December 2005, and we were traveling along the Great Ocean Road in southern Victoria in our camper van. [My husband] Dirk and I were in bed at a caravan park in Apollo Bay, when an aroma took me back to my early childhood. As the perfume wafted in through the open window, it affected me so powerfully that I couldn’t sleep until I had written about it.
This is what I wrote then, and added to after we returned home.
11.20 pm 19th December 2005, Apollo Bay Caravan Park, Victoria.
I lie in my bed in the caravan, weary yet content, and listen to the murmur of the waves, ebbing and flowing, muted by a hundred yards of distance from the seashore. Beside my head is the open window. Through it wafts a scent/smell/odour/perfume, carried on the cool night air. It is fresh and clean, and takes me immediately back to my childhood. It is at the same time comforting and exciting, familiar yet strange, bringing me thoughts and feelings from the distant past, whilst still being here in the present.
I take in the smell with each breath and attempt to analyse it. What is there about it that makes such an impression on my both conscious and unconscious mind? I look out of the window. In the diffused glow from the park lights, and against the darkness of the sky, I see the spreading branches of the huge trees beneath which we are parked. They are ancient pine trees, what kind I don’t know, but as soon as I realize that’s what they are, I can put a name to the perfume my subconscious memory has already identified.
It is the clean scent of pine; a perfume that has been added artificially to cleaners for years to give the impression of freshness and purity. But this isn’t that artificial perfume which invades the senses and often becomes cloying. Instead it is a subtle blend of pine needles, bark and resin, damp pine-infused earth, and cool night air. It is light, almost ethereal, more a presence than an odour.
It brings to my mind cool and shady woods, feelings of peace and tranquility overlaid with the tang of adventure. I can almost believe there are elves or fairies present – that is how strong the impact is on my senses and my feelings. It stimulates me to such an extent that I can’t sleep until I have put these impressions and feelings onto paper. I wish I could capture in words the strong sense of how I am somehow transported back more than fifty years into the past and to the feelings I had as a young child.
What power has the sense of smell on the mind! I want to drink in this perfume as if it is the elixir of life, and to be conscious of every draught of it.
I am sure it was at Reed Park, where we lived in a caravan for an extended time during 1954-55 when I first encountered this aroma. We had arrived in Australia from England in March 1954, and somehow, the scent makes me think of good times, the stimulation and excitement of the new, but also of security and contentment.
I talked about this with then, and later with [my brother] Peter and Dad over Christmas. They all agree that there definitely were huge pine trees around where we camped in the caravan at Reed Park. Peter can’t remember there being pine trees anywhere else we’ve lived. So I am confident that the smell that night – which I have not thought about since I was about six or seven – was from that park. I must have been happy there, I think.
© Linda Visman
Tags: childhood activities, creativity, independence, interpreting memories, living with nature, versions of the past
I sometimes wonder whether my childhood memories are as authentic as I believe them to be. There have been times when my siblings have reminded me of an event that occurred which illustrates an alternate version of those times, one that I may have pushed aside or interpreted in a different way.
I know that people can focus on aspects of their youth that colour and reinforce a version they have become used to. Sometimes, that version is a happy one, sometimes a negative one. I know of two brothers who see their experiences in a way that makes it seem they lived in different worlds – one seeing a society accepting of migrants and the other seeing discrimination everywhere. That has to be related to how their personalities have been shaped and to their natural optimism or pessimism I think.
Of course, there are some who really have endured awful family backgrounds, situations that could break them if that is what they focus on. And it does break some – but paradoxically makes others, even in the same family, stronger and more resilient.
We had a pretty good family, where we were loved and cared for, but during which we also endured some pretty tough times. I do remember those hard times, but I also remember the good times. Perhaps I have created a world that was somewhat better than it actually was, but at least it helps me to focus on the good stuff. Here’s a poem I wrote that does that:
In spring, summer and autumn,
we walked along muddy creeks,
along lake shores and ocean beaches,
over expanses of sea-side rock,
dotted with crystal-clear pools,
our bare feet tickled by weed and grass,
salt water and sand.
We collected driftwood and shells
and wave-smoothed stones
and carried them home
in bright red or blue or yellow buckets.
We spent hours sorting them
by shape and size and colour,
and days making sea-drift sculptures,
shell borders for photo frames and mirrors,
shell pictures and maps.
We strolled through wetlands,
dense with melaleuca,
wary of spiders and biting mosquitoes,
through lakeside forests of casuarinas
with their wind-eerie sounds,
and through paddocks and gullies
studded with eucalypts & blackberry bushes,
wary of red-bellied black snakes.
We collected sheets of paperbark
to make three-dimensional pictures,
flexible green sticks to make
dry reeds for arrows,
and bulrushes for spears.
Our Christmas decorations
were made from strips of crepe paper
that twirled across the room;
the star on top of the tree was
a piece of cardboard covered in
silver paper from cigarette packets.
From the huge pine trees
that bordered our school yard
(long gone now)
we fashioned their thick bark
into serviceable pistols, or dolls,
and their pinecones sawn through
created wide-eyed owls.
Inside, on cold or rainy days,
a sheet of newspaper could make
a ship or a plane or a hat,
or a row of dancing dolls.
A block of wood
made great cars and trucks;
large circular off-cuts from
holes drilled in plywood
made wheels for them.
Making our own entertainment was normal,
a stimulus to creativity and independence.
Not for us the electronic wizardry
of television or video games,
of computers or mobile phones.
We made what we could out of what we had
and enjoyed a childhood
rich with stimulation and experience.
What was your childhood like? Are your memories pleasant or negative?
© Linda Visman
Tags: floods, geographical difference, Red Centre, The Wet
Here is another poem about Central Australia. As you may have guessed, it is a place very close to my heart.
Australia’s red and sandy centre
Does not ever see falling snow.
Its winter vastness sees cold, dry frost;
Summer sees heat and, with luck, The Wet.
A place of Dreamtime and Kadaitcha,
Is this land, not of angels.
Your country* knows winter snows
On craggy mountain, great lakes,
Wide plains and arctic tundra.
You told me about snow angels –
The ones you made as a child –
But I didn’t understand.
Then one summer, in my Outback land,
The river that mostly runs dry
Ran wild and wide in the Wet.
We went to see it drying, you and I,
And in deep, still flood-damp sand
You lay down, arms and legs outspread.
You moved them together in rhythm
Arms up and down; legs open and closed.
I wondered, what is this you do?
Then you carefully stood and I saw
A lovely angel, winged and gowned.
So I lay down and made one too.
White snow angels fly now in red sand.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: coastal rocks, crabs, rock pools, shellfish, tidal life
Another of my poems for the A-Z April Challenge.
On the Rocks
There are scribble patterns
on the small rock pool’s sandy bottom,
where clear water is warmed by a winter sun.
Slow-moving shellfish, like half-marbles
in black or white or zebra-striped,
with their confused nutrient wanderings,
have woven lines that twist and tangle
and seem to go nowhere.
Plankton, barely seen by human eye,
swim and creep and crawl, on guard
against darting minnows –
the big fish in this miniature pond.
Tiny crabs dart beneath rock overhangs,
knowing that death lurks
in every movement from above.
Soon, the tide will turn, battering
the almost-still life into wakefulness;
fresh, cold waters flushing out the old
and bringing in the new –
more inhabitants to scribble in the sand.
And so it will continue,
tangled patterns of life renewed
tide after tide, as it has been forever.
(c) Linda Visman
On the rocks at Shellharbour.
Tags: hunting, kangaroo
Through entering writing competitions, I encountered many different forms of poetry, and wrote them too. Some were better than others. The Revanche is another form with which I had previously been unfamiliar.
The Revanche is a poem of action, comprising alternating quatrains and couplets. The quatrains (4-line stanzas, with the 4th line in a different rhythm) tell a story, and the couplets (2 rhyming lines) have a beat that creates action and excitement to the telling of the story.
The form then consists of:
8 stanzas of alternating quatrains and couplets.
Stanza 1: a quatrain in iambic tetrameter;
Stanzas 2,4,6,8: Rhyming couplets in iambic tetrameter;
Stanzas 3,5,7: Quatrains, with 3 lines in iambic tetrameter,
and the 4th line in iambic trimeter.
All quatrains are unrhymed.
This is the first and only Revanche poem I have attempted, as it can be a difficult one to work at. I found it a great exercise, and one which increased my appreciation of what can be created in a poem.
Old Man Kangaroo
– a Revanche poem –
They drive out where the ground is rough,
through mulga, scrub and spinifex,
past dry creek beds and rocky tors,
to hunt the Old Man Kangaroo.
Alerted by the engine’s throb,
a tremor stirs the grazing mob.
The driver’s craggy face lights up,
his mate beside adjusts his seat,
anticipates the chase to come,
prepares to use his gun.
The Old Man Roo stands up full height,
defiant in the evening light.
The men ignore the fleeing does,
the joeys racing at their side;
and focus on the Patriarch,
a target worth the run.
The roo explodes with mighty bound,
then turns and zig-zags ‘cross the ground.
Through trees and scrub, up creek and rise,
the battle-scarred old truck gives chase;
its engine strains, it spins and slides
then lurches to a halt.
Atop the hill the roo looks down;
again he’s beat the men from town.
(c) Linda Visman
Here are Cee’s questions for Share Your World Week 5. As always, I have enjoyed answering them.
Do you prefer shopping or going to a park?
I don’t particularly like shopping, so I would much rather go to a large area of parkland. Parks are places where I can write. Even better, I prefer to go into virgin bushland. The bush is where I can get closer to finding out what life is really about.
If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?
I would like to be a hiking boot; tough leather with thick soles and secure laces. I would love to take people into the wilderness – to the mountains or the desert or the rugged sea shore. I would keep them safe until they are ready to go barefoot.
What’s the story behind a time when you got locked out?
I don’t remember ever being locked out – of a house or a vehicle. It could have happened but, if so, it made no impression on me.
Do you prefer eating foods with nuts or no nuts?
There are not many nuts that I like much, especially on their own. The ones I do love are cashews (I know, they are beans, not nuts) and macadamias. When it comes to nuts with food, I don’t like them at all – unless they are in chocolate.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last Saturday, we celebrated Harry 90th birthday with his family and friends. It was a pleasure to be with such wonderful people of all ages who were there for a very special man.
Next week I am looking forward to some time to catch up on things that have gotten behind.
Tags: bugs, caterpillar
I am not a photographer, but I like to take photos of family and the places we go. I also like to take photos of things I find interesting – and that often means something outside, in the bush or by the water.
Today’s photos are of insects I found around our home during the past week. Two of them are very unusual, and I don’t know what they are. The third is a caterpillar, but I know not what butterfly or moth it will turn into.
I hope you find them interesting too.
The first is a little green bug I found on our verandah table. Its body looks like a tiny green corncob.
The second bug, a white one, I found on a young bottlebrush in our back yard. I literally could not make head nor tail of this one!
The caterpillar was on the end of a stick I picked up in our front yard. Its head is towards the end of the stick.
If anyone can tell me what these three are, I would be pleased indeed. By the way, all three creatures were allowed to go on their way, or stay, unmolested.
Do you like taking photos of little creatures?
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: Lake Macquarie NSW, photography, Sir William Dobell, Wangi Wangi
After dinner on the second day of the new year, my husband and I, with our son and family who were visiting from Queensland, went for a walk on the shore of Lake Macquarie. Being summer, it was still light when we arrived at Wangi Wangi village, almost two kilometres away.
The local park is a popular one, overlooking the lake on the southern side of the isthmus. It is named in honour of our late local celebrity, Sir William Dobell, a well-known and sometimes controversial artist. We had walked past Sir William’s house, now an art gallery, on the way there.
We all sat on the grassy slope to watch the sun make the last of its descent past the horizon. I took some photos, as it was a lovely scene.
Then we walked the almost two kilometres back home. It was a lovely end to a busy and very pleasant, family-oriented day.
Photos (c) Linda Visman