April 17, VIRUS 2020

Royal couple say lockdown ‘stressful’ on mental health. BBC

How to make sure your new vegetable seedlings survive and thrive. Nambucca Guardian News

It’s the question everyone wants to know: can you get coronavirus from farts? ABC

The multidimensional aesthetic offerings of nature are important for mental and physical well being, for feeling connected and interested in the world at any time.

NOW,at a time of anxiety and lockdown, appreciating and working with nature is more important than ever. Even if it is only looking at sunrise (Eos) or sunset though glass, or opening a window and hearing birdsong.

Eos, Valla, the lagoon

The sky sends out clouds painted showground red,
leaving room in the moody sideshow blue for a tarnished moon.
Magpies leave their roost and glide down crossing the river
to the beach and start fluttering around seeming to play,
alive to a new day. Smaller birds hidden in the bush a
re calling, ticking, churrping, song is left for later.

Moon over Miilba, Valla

I love being here beneath the moon.
Now is the time to put the camera down and breathe,
relax the feet in the sand, slow the pulse,
but I soon find it hard to resist my camera.

Eos, Valla with Old Man’s Hat

The brilliant colours are shrinking to a kind of salmon glare.
The Striated Heron is running back and forth
then stops on the water’s edge and resumes patience.
He/she is always here hunting in darkness when I arrive.

Eos in scarlet

Up river a lucent sheen shooting sprays of white
like wedding bouquets, no sound from the fish landing,
the sea is monstrously loud. The Magpies have settled down,
stand around, waiting for something, maybe sunrise.

The stingray impressions fill with light. Battery finished,
I swap, my spare only a handful of shots.
I holster my apparatus, watch two Pied Oystercatchers probing
for food, beside the heron, still standing, a rare flight two metres
into the river, splash, return, empty-billed.
A solitary bird, never lonely.

The lagoon, Valla

The natural aesthetics of meeting Eos is rewarding. Recently, the domain of aesthetics has widened to include the natural. This is so important in a world where human populations have shifted to being mostly urban, removed from natural phenomena and processes. This is important both for the physical and mental health of the population – and for the health of the environment which is being increasingly ravaged.

Visiting an art gallery often fails to provide the actual experience of being excited, interested or amazed. Everyone knows that the art market has little to do with art, or the appreciation of art. Whereas, Eos is an immersive experience, and different each time, the quality of the light, the colours, the birds and animals, the weather, how you are feeling an responding, engaging with the environment

Helios is fast, a blinding dot with the horizon
so clear an immediate eye test, you have to look away,
the sea sounds so bloody loud, then the timbre changes,
I have no idea why. I have never heard silence up here.
The Oystercatchers are now stood preening. 

Behind, the forest drops to the beach, so beautiful
in this light, so healthy, impenetrable, glints of gold
as White-cheeked Honeyeaters dart through.

I remember my phone, never use it as a camera,
get it out. Take images of three trees uprooted
by the river weeks ago, almost torn from the earth
but still making enough connection for life,
for now the leaves are green.

I head slowly back, the heron flies little way ahead,
I slowly catch up, the heron flies a little further
and this continues until he thinks enough,
and flies across to the other bank.

Trees downed, rare use of my camera phone

~

We zoom with friends, my wrinkles stand out impressively. We are all gardening.

~

From a charred sky and as yet unborn beginning
to a bright spark the beautiful promise of Eos gone,
a dull day beginning as I left the estuary behind.
Late afternoon the wind is flinging branches
around the garden still brightened by butterflies
a rich buttercup colour, and hyper Little Wattlebirds
crisscrossing the Grevillea trapeze.

A friend is moving to palliative care, a quick
cancer, not waiting for this crisis and lockdown
to end, wondering what to write. Words
so handy most of the time, sometimes
don’t know what to say when hugs are needed.
I look out, it’s almost sunset, three or four
sunbeams glance off trunks, too late and only
lasting a couple of minutes.

I recall the curfew in Kabul when the Russians invaded,
and sick as a dog (and street dogs in that part of the world
are often very sick) I had drag myself back to a fleapit
from the American Information Centre. I spent my days
there reading and watching videos of Ballanchine,
but this lockdown is unprecedented, a wartime strategy.

We appreciate being SO Lucky not being affected for now,
though no sign of a refund or credit for my flight to Europe,
and our road trip to Lake Mungo penciled in for now
is indefinitely postponed for now.