1 June VIRUS 2020

Christo, known for massive, ephemeral public arts projects died Sunday at his home in New York. He was 84. Market Watch

‘Deaths in our backyard’: 432 Indigenous Australians have died in custody since 1991. The Guardian

America is at a low ebb, shaken by multiple blows, and Trump adds to the distress. Washington Post

One glance at the American leaders (or figure-heads) conveys that America is on the edge of absolute chaos, and also suggests the future to which American interests, if not the bulk of the American people, appear willing to consign the blacks. James Baldwin,1970. The New York Review of Books email link today to his An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis.

I am a little disappointed not to see the Oystercatchers on the rocks being low tide.The flow assembles new configurations, two lagoons have now formed.
Old Man’s Hat sits its reflection on the old one.
Walking south to the river entrance Eos suddenly comes alive, the colours exhilarating, a scar cuts across the soft layers.

The cartwheeling breakers look blue in the unbrightness.
The estuary is always a changing, always rewarding attention. Eos is a great way to strip away habitual ways of acting, thinking, experiencing.
The neuroscientist David Eagleman says, ‘One thing I try to do every day is kick my brain out of its automated routines. So, just as an example, switching your watch to your other hand or brushing your teeth with your other hand. Or what I try to do most days is drive a different route home from work because otherwise you become an automated zombie and you do exactly the same thing and it stops taking up much time.[1]
I find Eos a much more rewarding way of spending time, aesthetically and physically / mentally for wellness. I don’t go down to the sea every day (I hate routine), but even if I did, Eos on the shore is never routine – her colours, the birds, the waters flowing, flooding, thundering, lapping.
Nearly everyday I appreciate Eos from wherever I am. I know – I am fortunate, for many people  the equations of life do not equal, health, opportunities, love.  But many have an opportunity, and ignore it, to take notice of what is happening to their place, to their environment, to their day to day breath.
A Brahminy Kite passes over and when I return to the rocky point, a Sooty Oystercatcher is there, and soon after the pair fly off, the other had been invisible as glass.

~

Planting sugar snap peas, look up at the Blue-faced Honeyeater, follow its gaze. A Noisy Miner sits just above, suddenly another miner flies in and lands straight in top of her, wings vibrating a balance while seeding. First day of winter (our first June here) and lots of activity, birds flying past with nesting materials. Male Crested Pigeons bowing, tails spread in the middle of the road, ignoring the occasional car.

Of course this is not the first day of winter, that’s a European Season –  we are in the Gumbaynggirr season of maguurr – cold weather. (see an earlier post )

The river, fish and chips by the river, the Oystercatchers can’t help but sing as they fly.
The Pied Cormorant wriggles round the Neptune Beads covered rocks, another sits watching.
The sacred mountain looks down on the photographer, the father and his daughter, the birds flying up and down the river, the fish and dolphin road.

This reeks of peacefulness, health:
as if the ongoing pandemic has vanished, like they always have in the past,
as if the wars that have morphed into ongoing institutions of pain, hatred and crime have lost
momentum and are drifting to peace,
as if the natural environment is suddenly valued for what it is, for what it gives.

~

Watching images of the riots across the US of A, I think of the 2004 Redfern riots in Sydney and how much anger and despair in the Aboriginal communities continues which has not led to rioting.

I try and find something I wrote on my first visit to the States, I fail. From my second visit came The New World (1990) two extracts.

Welcome to New York

The ferry floods us onto Ellis Island. I can see them nervously walking the gangway. Women bound in white scarfs haul large bundles of cloth. Husbands in their best shabby suits carry battered cases and hold screaming silent babies up to the camera. Small flags blur hope. The video precipitates tears in a woman creaking next to me and already I am moved by this new world. I’m rushed through the babel of screaming babies and children’s deafening babble. Put a bit of pep in your step, they watch for any difficulty in your breathing as you lug your worldly goods up this steep flight of steps.

The officials had six seconds to decide but then took to asking questions and setting tests. ‘Where were you born? Count backwards from 20. Fit these 19 wooden blocks together. 18.  Make a picture of 17 a steamship. How do you wash 16 stairs, from the top or from the bottom? I don’t go to America to wash 15 stairs. Like dragonflies 14 helicopters buzz round Manhattan a machine built on 13 metamorphic mica schist, a solid metaphor, and good deal for some 12 Dutchman. 11 Tourists stroll the bright hem of the island sucking on ice cream. 10 The local name was KIOSHK, Gull Island bought for 9 rings. Barbed wire spikes from 8 other unrenovated blocks. We sail away to the Statue of Liberty 7 photographers keeling the ferry, the 8 flags performing, beating the 6 sky, don’t disembark, in an impersonation, take 5 photographs through the reflections. 4 3 Lunch in Greenwich Village under the anaesthetic. 2 Time says New York is 1 rotting city.                                             ±

Beneath gleaming Citicorp:

Sitting on a wall for brief respite from the frantic fire sale, Manhattan fever I’m aware of an enormous flag overhead large enough to fly from a forest of sequoias, a startling American pubescent stay-fresh symbol that gift-wraps the moon for a price. But it’s the ragged skein that injects a shot of awe – patient archaic energy adjusting beats across a pale viscous sky pierced by glitzy sky-scraping hallucinations, their flight path must be improvised.

In possession of its own expanding galaxy of quasars, black holes and twinkling stars the city is about to start to dismantle day and switch effortlessly to night. Is the northern ice as bright and sharp as high-voltage Big Apple? Are there any trees left on their long journey? The migrating geese release the present everywhere and for me there’s no way past.

Surviving shadows slice deeper than ever. Darkness cracked by neon is the source of energy needed to lift this glass and concrete high off the planetary surface. All that’s visible are streets filmed with graphite, porous to steam rising from underground.

 

[1] David Eagleman, ‘Creativity and your brain’, ABC, All in the Mind, 20 Jan 2019.