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Posts Tagged ‘creative writing’

Back Veranda, part 2

The summer solstice has come and gone and as the days grow shorter our usual hot summer stretches ahead. What has become of the dreaded el Nino? We were led to believe that a big one was lurking just around the corner. Instead of experiencing a dry season we have been blest with bountiful, early summer rain.

Our surrounding bush land is thriving. Gone are all the pale green tips of new life growth. Instead, rich shades of viridescent green appear everywhere as the rain continues to fall and nourish the land.

What does appear different this year is the quality of the light. It seems to be clearer, brighter, and so intense that colours everywhere pop and sizzle. When I enter our home after time spent in the sunshine, my eyes take longer to adjust to the darker light inside. Is it only me that experiences this new phenomenon, or do others notice it too?

In the meantime nature is always filled with surprises, so expect the unexpected during this cool, wet summer. The view of our landscape signifies rest, regeneration and regrowth, and we can’t think of a better place to enjoy a coffee than from our back veranda.

 

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Stripes

Our landscape is a vast sea of tender green shoots. None of the flowering trees, shrubs and plants have reached that time in their cycle to emerge in their glorious spring raiment. Yet as we often look to flowers for our pleasure it is easy to forget that foliage—its shape, texture and colour—can also offer visual beauty of a different sort. Leaves and grasses frequently adorn themselves in subtle and attractive ways as can be seen below.

Here I am, sleek and chique, dressed  in softly coloured vertical stripes
on my long, strappy leaves.

Fioliage fan

Poka dots are always smart, very sassy, and never go out of style.

Polka Dot beauties

I am ready to trot in a stunning abstract design.
This one features blobs of colour that are splashed about at random.

Variegated colours
For an eye-catching change today
I’ll wear bands of different colours on the same outfit.

Crotons
There is nothing like cut away spaces to suggest an aura of mystery.
These stencilled patterns showcase true pizzazz.

Stencil leaves
During these in-between times and as the year unfolds, we need to observe more carefully. Beauty lies in front of us wherever we go. There is always something exceptional to discover and these small moments provide a great big lift.

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Picasso, Girl before a Mirror, 1932.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City

… young and beautiful, her arms cradle a large oval mirror as she gazes at her reflection, surrounded by bold diamond shaped geometric patterns, vertical and horizontal stripes rendered in vibrant saturated hues—pigments chosen for their emotive source of colour rather than to express the intended scene …

looking back
from the depths
of the mirror
her image
as an old woman

hard, angular features
framed in sombre colour
nature’s reminder
that time ages
all lovely things

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    In the dry times after the insufferable heat sets in, it takes only the careless toss of a lit cigarette, a boy with a box of matches, or a lightning strike to set the whole place alight. From a slow smoulder in a clump of dried grass, to the first flicker of a tongue of flame, destruction begins its deadly forward march.

Should the winds rise, flames will spread over the fuel offered by a tinder dry ground cover to ignite the shrubs that explode into fire balls; sending flying embers aloft to set the trees and finally the entire forest canopy alight. The air fills with thick smoke as everything is burning now with the fire racing ahead like a famished beast, gorging itself on everything in its path. All of nature sighs with a hiss and a crackle, then finally groans aloud with the pain of this all-consuming assault. And yet … as fire devours all living things, they grow anew …

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beyond snowfall
and barren branch
lies a deeper silence 
breaking our bond
to set us adrift

I hold my mother’s hand, feeling its tissue soft skin, her small fragile bones. She’s hunched over in her chair near the window. As I tell her about our family, her eyes grow cloudy and she withdraws. I speak on but she doesn’t hear me. I hold up a soft pink shawl I brought, yet she doesn’t see it. Then I lean forward excitedly with, ‘Why don’t we go for a drive, past our old house?’ She shows no interest. Finally I kiss her goodbye and move away, closing the door behind me. 

the sun has set
its light has dimmed
to mirror
this  long winter
of dementia

 

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A narrow strip of beach stretches before me. Its white sand warms my feet as its cushion gives way to a wet packed surface near the water’s edge. To the right as far as I can see lie undulating ridges of sand dunes. All are crested with tussocks of spinifex grass holding them firmly against the erosion of wind and water.

On my left is the South Pacific Ocean. I drink in its familiar colours—a glassy turquoise sea—where the horizon becomes blurred in a shimmering haze. Beyond lies the deep expanse of cobalt blue where the seabed drops away. Mirroring the blue below, the sky is laced with weightless clouds.

Closing my eyes I inhale the familiar scent of salt brine. I walk on through the shallows hearing only the drone and splash of the open sea beside me. In this peaceful space I reset my inner compass. Here at the intersection of land and water’s edge, I reclaim the sense of balance that always sustains me.

sleeping tonight
with my hand on your heart
in its steady beat
the roll
of the sea

I dream of shells
salt rinsed, sun bleached
scrolls, fans, spirals
held and admired then
returned to the sea

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Whatever your special talents may be …
Trust and believe in yourself.

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Don’t be concerned if you seem to be different.
Being different can be an interesting thing.

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Let the light within you shine forth.
Enjoy being your colourful self.

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Life is short so just get on with it.
Bloom where you’re planted.

 

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This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals, and has reached its crowning stage of dying—the delicate seed globe must break up now—it gives and gives till it has nothing left. There is no sense of wrenching: it stands ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or how the wind that bloweth where it listeth, may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given: a breath does the rest, turning the “readiness to win” into the “performance” (2Cor. 8:11)

From: A Passion for the Impossible by Miriam Huffman Rockness, courtesy of Diane Stevens. 

My next post will be in mid-June.

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As I feel a sudden blast of air I draw my light cardigan closer around me. Looking at the agitated trees one can see something of the wind that stirs them. Like a rushing tidal wave it sweeps over the forest from hill to hill, swirling through the treetops to strip and scatter the small branches and leaves. Passing gusts are caught up in whirlpools that break away to soar aloft on great drafts of air. Everywhere gales lash at the tall grass, creating whorls of circular movement that threaten to tear away the ground cover and carry it into the turbulence above. Like a mighty river in full flood, the entire topography of this land is drawn into the grip of a great wind, moving only where its swift current chooses to take it. Awesome, elemental power, unleashed and unstoppable – this is the wind.

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We guide our canoe through the shallows of a peaceful billabong. As the afternoon passes the water becomes as still as glass, reflecting the grotesque shapes of old rugged trees on its mirrored surface. The only sound is the gentle splash of our bow. We stop to rest—our paddles across our knees—as small droplets from the wet blades create ever-widening circular pools. Paddling closer to the edge we savour the quiet of this moment, this small gift of nature that never ceases to sustain and uplift us.

on the breeze
the distant call
of a crow

(billabong: an Australian term for the branch of a river forming a blind channel, backwater, or a stagnant pool)

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