In Stitches

March 13, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Poetry, Writing | 27 Comments
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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

grey-green fabric;

patches of dirty brown

rain-stirred run-off

tacked onto it here and there

like jungle-camouflage.

 

Silver sequins

tossed onto the watery quilt

tumble and sparkle among

the grey jetty stripes and squares

and the multi-coloured

ship-shaped pieces

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

 

An Olfactory Blast from the Past

January 11, 2016 at 2:00 am | Posted in Australia, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Leisure activities, Memoir, Nature, Reflections, The Senses | 11 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

 

 

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.

 

greatoceanroad

 

 

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.

 

Reed Park with pavilion 1950s

Reed Park in early 1950s, showing a few of the pine trees

 

 

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

 

 

My Rose-coloured Childhood

December 21, 2015 at 1:00 am | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Family, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Leisure activities, Memoir, Mental Health, Nature, Philosophy, Society, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 9 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

 

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

Hiawatha bows

straight-stemmed

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

 

 

A to Z Challenge – S is for Snow Angels

April 22, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Australia, Nature, The Red Centre | 4 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

Here is another poem about Central Australia. As you may have guessed, it is a place very close to my heart.

Snow Angels

 

 

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

A to Z Challenge – O is for On the Rocks

April 17, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Australia, Nature | 3 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

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 –

oxygen, nourishment,

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.

A to Z Challenge – K is for Kangaroo

April 13, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015, Australia, Nature, Poetry | 4 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

 

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

A toZ Challenge – E is for Embrace the Good

April 6, 2015 at 12:05 am | Posted in Destroying nature, Gratitude, History, Poetry | 13 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE [2015] - Life is Good

 

 

I don’t know about you, but there are many times when I wonder what the world is coming to. I am concerned about wars and what is happening to our environment, the horrible things people do to each other …….

One day, I wrote a poem about it.

 

 

Embrace the Good

 

I’m sitting in my lounge room chair

Thinking about the world’s indirectness;

Reading the paper, trying to understand

All about political correctness;

I’m wondering why they just can’t call

Everything by its proper name –

But every now and then I hear

My children out enjoying their game.

I’m making the beds and listening

To ABC radio’s latest news

When I find that I’m breaking down in tears

At the things that some people choose

To do unto their fellow man;

Why does this always have to be?

But now and then a magpie’s clear song

Breaks into my misery.

I’m walking along a street in town

To the shops and to mail a letter

When I hear someone at the corner proclaim

To all his religion is better.

I despair at the terrible wars that result,

And the suffering that comes from Man’s greed –

But I look at the colourful flowers that grow

And the beauty that comes from their seed.

Sometimes the misery and grief of the world

Seem to fill up the depths of my soul,

And it’s hard to carry on every day;

When the pain is a smouldering coal.

Then someone does a kindly thing

Or I see the smile on a baby’s face,

And I realise there is much good in the world –

It’s this good that I must embrace.

(c)  Linda Visman

Share Your World – 2015 Week #5

February 3, 2015 at 11:07 pm | Posted in Friendship, Gratitude, Nature | 5 Comments

 

Share Your World blog badge

 

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.

 

Old hiking boots

 

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.

 

Linda Visman

 

 

 

Photos on Friday – Bugs in my Garden

January 29, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Insects, Nature | 11 Comments
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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.

 

Little green bug cropped & resized 01

Little green bug cropped & resized 02

 

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!

 

White bug cropped 01

White bug cropped 03

 

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.

 

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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

Sunset at Dobell Park, Wangi Wangi, NSW

January 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Posted in Australia, Family, Gratitude, heritage, Leisure activities, Nature | 6 Comments
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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.

images[2]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.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This old and battered fibreglass dinghy sat forlornly on the beach.

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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

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