Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 10 - To Tharwa and beyond

Tuesday November 29, 2011, 55 km

'Tis a warm, partly cloudy day, this the 10th day of the tour, this Tuesday in late November.

This stage is different in that it is not intended to cover great distances, rather, into Namadgi National park to explore some of its features. A few walks toward lookout points and camping in one or two fixed places. The first I am heading for is the Honeysuckle campground, next to the old space station, on Apollo rd. A reasonable place to gaze at the stars, one would imagine. I was told that rain is predicted over the next couple of days, so being wet has been rationalised. It is 6:30 in the morning. Made it to Namadgi's rangers station with time to spare. Pleasant ride along Tharwa drive.Obtained the most recent weather forecast which stipulated that today would be cloudy and hot, tomorrow storms, and the day after clearing storms. So I paid the 5.90 camping fees and headed to Honeysuckle campground. The ride from the visitor's centre - rangers station, on the Boboyan & Naas roads was generally a gentle downhill, to be reckoned with less gentleness on my return. Turns at the intersection with Apollo road and head on with more gentle undulations. A few km's into Apollo road a sign is reached, reading: Winding next 7kms. Yes, it was winding, and it was all uphill, quite steep in parts. Flashbacks of the Acheron way and Cement Creek came back to haunt me, along with an intense rationing of thoughts. A stop to take a pic was a useful take a sip of water, a deep breath, and the self-encouraging mantra, muttered for the whole 7kms....."This will all end soon." Of course, it never ends soon enough, but in the end it did, and in the end, I felt positively hungry. Chick peas, tuna, etc, followed by a cup of coffee. Another tent is pitched some distance from mine, and am guessing with the coming storm they may be gone by evening, meaning, I will have the place to myself. Fantastic! Happy to be here, alone, pondering. I can, soon enough, think about the man pushing the shopping trolley around Australia. It is quite a powerful theme, or symbol. Cousin Peggy said that I should write an Ode to the Shopping Trolley... I must....well, I'll ponder and try. I have inflated my thermarest and lie upon it, on a bench. I have been visited by a Kurrawong, and a green bower bird (that is the female) The breeze causes the branches of trees to creaks, sometimes like door hinges in need of oil, other times like a wooden bed when one tosses and turns in the dead of night. Then came the image of the old man pushing the shopping trolley, along the Stuart hwy through the Northern Territory. Anne Mustoe gives us a brief account of her encounter with this man, as she also crossed the desert on her way from Townsville to Darwin. It seems the old man, whose name I cannot recall (his name may not have been given) would, at the end of a long days' walk, empty the shopping trolley of its contents and hop into to sleep. Next morning, return the contents into the shopping trolley, and resume the walk. This brief account, and particularly the image that was impressed in my mind, has found a strong and secure place within. The image of the shopping trolley came back to me quite strongly on the day that I lost the violin bow. The human mind possesses the remarkable ability to panic. It can do so to the point where the apparent reality becomes completely distorted. The moment I realised that the bow had been left behind in the train, speech became slurred, and motion became, for lack of a better metaphor, slow-motion. The train began to pull away from the station, the man in the train, responsible for closing the train doors, looked at me intensely, his eyebrows arched, and a sinister grin seemed to alter his face into that of a gargoyle. In my mind, I had destroyed my son's future as a violinist, given his impending auditions a few weeks away, and this act of irresponsibility in my part, filled me with terror and apprehension at the bollocking I was destined to receive. I tried to run after the train, but could not move. I was frozen. And the train pulled further and further away, and my heart sank right down to my ankles. The bow was gone, and there was nothing that could be done about it. It was final, definite, and irremediable. Then another train was coming to the station, and the thought crossed my mind: "It would be so easy to jump". Not that this would ever happen, yet the thought did come, in this moment of extreme anguish and panic. No sooner this thought had come, what followed was the image of the old man pushing the shopping trolley. The saviour had come. Indeed, things can never get that bad, that one couldn't simply get a shopping trolley, and walk away. Yes, leave everything behind and go walk-about, pushing a shopping trolley. For it is also the case that the human mind possesses the remarkable ability to yield, to surrender to the inevitable. Yes, the violin bow had gone, and it would never return. It happened, and now it's done. Let go, let go... push that shopping trolley and move on. The shopping trolley I am pushing is my bike, fully loaded up them hills, and it is here, that all slows down, or as T.S. Elliot said: "The still point, this is where the dance is." Inch by inch up the hills, all can be heard. Slight changes in the landscape can be observed, and there is only one thought, one mantra, one simple objective: the next inch. Inch by inch the road unfolds, inch by inch a new destination is reached, and inch by inch a new arrival, the next still point, infinite still points, the slightest of nuances, fresh inch by inch; there is no time to panic, to perceive consequences, to catastrophise life; no room for this in the still point, inch by inch. It is only in the here and now that we truly live, in the here and now we are truly saved. All else is fantasy, past or future. The truth is there, only as we breathe, as the wheel turns, inch by inch. Pondering aside, two kangaroos entered the clearing. I was reclining on my thermarest when I heard what sounded like a purr and a soft grunt. Quickly I sat up, and there it was... standing tall and looking straight at me. It then bowed down, and proceeded to eat its dinner. A few more purring grunts. Evening is approaching, and so is the storm, and these grunts are not purr-some, rather groan-some. The groansome grunts are coming with the approach of night, and the sky is quickly turning dark grey.

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