By Lennard Palmer
I stepped out my front door today.
It didn’t used to be a big deal. And then things changed in my life that took away the comfort I once felt – changes of my own making – and now stepping out the door has I suppose come to be a symbolic departure from safety. (I must intellectualise everything. I wonder what it’s like to simply act?) I guess that symbolism isn’t really revolutionary, but until recently the destination I had in mind when I left home was always somewhere I felt comfortable to go, whatever that destination was. Not so, just now. A walk outside used to be cathartic and so I tried that today. I will try again in a minute, once I’ve finished here. I don’t feel any better now after my walk than I did before it. I came back to do the laundry, but my hope the sun would be direct and powerful enough to dry it naturally won’t be a realistic one. I’ve thought about a glass of wine but it doesn’t feel right.
I live in a gently beautiful area but that beauty doesn’t calm me today. Not just now. I saw some lovely things when I stepped outside my door. I first went to see my local kangaroo mob. It was midday; I interrupted their siesta. Lying down, some of them writhed in a kind of peaceful agony. Kind of like a cat does. A flea caught at the ribs of one, which started a furious scratching. Another had a joey and looked at me. A large male stood up and did the same thing. Fifty metres and two fences separated us but I still felt unwelcome. I didn’t want to transfer my own worries onto them and so I walked away. A national symbol they may be, but to my English eyes they still look like an evolutionarily stunted deer – a quadruped that never quite mastered the benefits of four legs. If you end up standing on your hind legs it’s no sign or signal of betterment, though, I guess. Winter sun failed to give me succour, but it was working for them, it seemed.
Around the corner a splendid fairy wren flitted around. A male in mating plumage, its blue stripe flashed across my peripheral vision like a gas flame. A small honeyeater arrowed north, looking for a banksia. I went to a tree-surrounded lake but found I was accidentally looking into someone’s back garden, so I left. A small flock of cockatoos swept overhead, the beating of their wings sounding like the fast onset of a heavy thunderstorm, but there were no clouds around.
A new neighbour introduced herself, and asked if I knew the people next door because her son had accidentally kicked his football over there. She called it a soccer ball. That’s OK. I couldn’t help, but she seemed nice. I didn’t want human contact. A hoodie and tinted sunglasses is the international introversion uniform, but it doesn’t always stop natural friendliness or a boy’s errant sporting endeavour splicing a reverie. But that’s OK, too. Feeling like this gives an odd sense of melancholia. Tomorrow I go back to work and must slide into the professional carapace that takes so much of my emotional energy and leaves little left over for me or my partner, and that’s not OK.
A plover waddled away from me. A magpie gave its flautist’s call; I fear for nesting season when they become aggressive, apparently. I must invest in an ice-cream tub hat. I arrived home. The strange appearance of a patio chair by the bins still doesn’t have an explanation. I opened the door and felt some of the comfort I sought outside.
The sun is going down, and another wren is bobbing about in my small backyard. It’s time to try to capture something. And so I write.
About the Author:
Lennard Palmer is an expat Englishmen, living in rural Victoria: once a fishmonger but now a built environment professional and coffee addict.
Image credits: Lennard Palmer (@victorian_wyvern)