Some days the black tide seeps in (depression). Often for reasons I can’t tell or discover. It’s just suddenly there, black, often shiny, with no end of it, no beginning, no land to step back onto, no beach, no edge.

Only I am the edge, my feet in a water I cannot feel.

Some days I am immobilised by anxiety, this black tide, amorphous apprehension.

On other days, and sometimes even on the same day, I get myself moving, drive to the beach, walk with the dog, one step at a time, let the sound of the sea, the gulls, let the sounds in, the fresh air, the cool breeze, the shape of the rocks, height of the swell, choreography of the clouds, let them in.

Sometimes, like today, I’ll find a small pool of water left by the retreating morning tide. It’s right near Commodore Point at the end of Horseshoe Bay. The pool’s bordered by large granite slabs of rock that stretch out across the beach.

It’s the ripples that attract me, concentric rings, edgings carried by the wind and some more sea water from another, last wave. There are one or two pieces of seaweed, slippery strands that ebb ever so gently,

I tihnk: if those strands weren’t there the pool would be clearer, as if untainted. Then I realise it was the seaweed that first drew my attention, the different colours, some green, others a dull reddish, the usual browns, that faint tremor of a movement, a way of locating a moment, the ripples of a pool that wouldn’t be there in ten or so minutes.

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Tidal Days

Tidal days, sea-foam days that curl and shapeshift, carry the heart on the wind, out and back, out and back.

Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot.

Days when I see energy lines, stones that bounce and tell of tides and schools of fish, the murmurings of the sea.



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Landscapes of the Heart

I’ve come across love letters, old ones, written me many many years ago. Those times when you’d have to wait days and even weeks for a letter to arrive.

I’d be poised, held in and up by moments that stretched over  long, unyielding days, taut and bruised, hopeful and nervous, excited for those first words, the slant of your writing, a fine pitch across the envelope with my name and address on it. How even then, I’d hold back, even as my fingers opened the envelope, my eyes searching your words, that line you wrote, “I love you a million times”, your name written with a curve and flourish, as gracious and sensuous as you, your body, mine, ours, the way you’d tilt your head as you spoke, eyes looking at mine, the sudden turn away, pain you never explained.

Even now, well beyond reason, your words trail through me, at once light and buoyant, a winding path that wanders back on itself, twists somewhere else, comes to an edge, slips into that stream where melancholy pools, and only the bough of that single tree remains, its reflection quivering in the shifting breeze over the water, our paths never again the same except now, in these brief moments when I remember us on the Pilgrim’s Way, making love out of the rain.

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Dancing Reflections

Valley of the Gods


The dance between, in and out of balance; wherever we go, we are, runs the Buddhist saying.

Here the Valley of the Gods, just out of Medicine Bow in Utah, the car that got us there, the warm sunny day, the dust that followed us, clouds dancing across the sky and my mind, companions for so many of my years, a choreography changing shape, shape changers all of us.

Places of awe surprise us into wonder. Take us beyond ourselves, return us into ourselves.


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Feathered Days

I like to watch the sparrows in the garden. How they dart about, chatter amongst themselves, all fly off in the one, sudden moment, return later, one or two, then more, come back to pick for food, drink from the bird bath and the other smaller bowl I’ve put in the garden, one that I fill several times a day when, like now, it’s hot, sunny, the UV extreme.

They feather the day with a rich loom, softening the edges of the bright light. Every now and then, when I’m out in the garden, one will alight near me on a branch or shrub, and I’ll feel known, just in that sudden glance, a moment’s grace, some point of feathered origin.

Sparrow days, feathered ways.

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Cloud Speak

ImageClouds, that shifting choreography in the sky, wispy, runic, rippling, changing,

Clouds as portents, omens, hints, signs of direction, currents, particular landscapes.

Clouds rich with story.

Those rolling thuderclouds in the American South West; the busy chatter of clouds in Hong Kong. Victoria Peak lost in cloud. Or the single line of clouds out to sea from here,  past Granite Island, like the hills of  thousands of years ago, when Kangaroo Island was part of the mainland, a forgotten horizon remembered in clouds, by clouds.

And now, the cloud, the virtual world of data storage, different stories, more and more. Never before have so many parts of our lives had so much potential to be collected, layered, organised, be retrieved.

As we live lives increasingly distanced from the natural world, so that world appears in language in vastly different contexts – the cloud, electronic ‘footprints’.

Our lives, data stacked.

A thin, lone cloud passes overhead here, a brief flirtation with shade in the garden, before the return of heat.

Different worlds, different access points.



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I’m out in the front garden, sitting under a gum tree. Parakeets have a nest up high on the branches. The nest looks frail and yet solid, swaying with the wind. Clouds whisper across the sky, thin trails of conversations that become portals to other worlds of understanding, premonitions and omens, story lines that tremor like old memories from a once forgotten childhood.

Clouds, I realise, have kept me alive, feeding my imagination with their choreography. As a boy in Hong Kong I’d lie on the ground, look up at the clouds scudding above our apartment, my fingers digging into the turf, the earth holding me so that I didn’t fall off the edge off the world.

Spinning days, days of shadow and sun, the unforgiving grind of growing up, the moods of my parents, their arguments hanging heavy in the humidity, my mother’s lonely, angry refrains, building up with each cigarette and sip of wine, my father thumping another table, sister disappearing to her friends, me seeking invisibility.

Today blackbirds dart in and out of the shrubs and trees, wattle birds too, larks and sparrows, magpies as well. We’ve put in more native trees, especially callistemons with their long-fingered, scarlet bottlebrushes. They’ll attract more native birds, lorikeets and bright green, yellow and red feathered parrots that, we hope, will help keep the garden healthy. We’ve planted vegetables and herbs in pots and old wine barrels, the easier to water and maintain moisture levels in the summer. Some plants the birds themselves have brought – aromatic, wild splashes of coriander especially. Others, like the Devon violets with their insistent, comforting spread and purple flowers, grow unaided.

The scent of the violets reminds me of my grandmother’s home in North Devon, violets and pansies as cheeky smiling borders, the apple tree at the back, the cat and I sitting on one of the branches, enfolded by dreams. A bottle of perfume I brought back from England, a gift for my mother, her older, more mellow days.

Edges, boundaries, swirls in-between. The old and the very new, heartache and heartiness, the mesh of life.


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