It took more than the usual fortitude to head out the door into the pre-dawn blackness yesterday. For days the weather reports had forecast our first dose of indubitably “wintry” weather: a “polar [or Antarctic] vortex” was bulldozing its way north, with rumours of rare snow in far-southeastern Queensland and (for Queenslanders) a daunting maximum temperature of 15C (59F). It wasn’t the cold that I dreaded, but the accompanying severe winds. Although I hoped they’d whip up some photogenically frothy waves on the high tide coinciding with sunrise, their immediate effect was to dust my eyeballs with swirling grit, and I had to wear sunglasses in the dark till I left my street and cut across the park towards Cabbage Tree Creek. The creek mouth was a disappointment. Although the conditions had left the area agreeably deserted, there was no more froth on the waves than atop your standard morning latte, and I decided to climb the road to the crest of Shorncliffe. I’d been meaning to photograph the pier reconstruction project from above with the …
Well, the snow is starting to melt and the air smells like spring… That’s how Kate’s email began this morning (yesterday afternoon New York time). I was at once overcome with envy and nostalgia for that revivifying time when you feel the change in the air like the scent of hope and you know you’ve made it through the harshest of seasons. Pretty soon the first bulbs will be pushing through the melt-sodden earth. Here in Brisbane the harshest season is Summer, and we’re not through it yet; it seems to have saved its heaviest artillery for one bloody last stand. I don’t know if it’s age, my general malaise, or if all those southern summers I missed while living overseas made me soft, but I’ve really struggled with this latest one. Over in Upstate New York, of course, it’s been, by all accounts, an even harsher Winter than the one I lived through in 2014. That was the most consistently cold I’ve ever been, but it wasn’t just the temperatures, it was the grey, the gloom, the oppressive monotony of the …
CHRISTMAS 2010, SOMEWHERE IN THE SWISS-GERMAN HEARTLAND I’ve never enjoyed Christmas much as a (relative) grown-up, but I loved my introduction to the European version. In Australia, backyard beers and sizzling sausages on a 30C afternoon, followed incongruously by hot, heavy — and admittedly delicious — pudding drowned in custard and littered with antique threepenny coins, had just never worked for me. But this felt like the real thing. It actually seemed possible to believe that something deeper or more meaningful than an orgy of shopping, eating and bad television was taking place in this ancient little town between Zurich and Lucerne.
I should be working out in the yard but it’s raining pretty hard and we’re just getting over prolonged colds. So back to sunnier, drier times: a recap of my four-day Moreton Island trip just after Easter. This was my third 60-mile circumabulation of the island, second in an anti-clockwise direction.
What the hell is my weather app playing at? was my thought as I left home a couple of hours ago for my five-mile walk downtown. “Sunshine and cloud mixed” and 6C or so were to be my rewards for surviving till the first full day of (official) Spring; the reality was swirling snowflakes, a cold breeze and only two fleeting appearances by an ever-submissive sun.
Three and three-quarter miles of walking in glorious sunshine and very mild temps — it’s minus 1C as I write this over the remnants of my bakery lunch — could just about fool a gullible rambler into thinking Winter was over.
The soundtrack for this stroll — for most of my urban walking of late — was the Beatles’ Revolution Number 9: Number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine… You get the idea. But how about some visuals?
I’d bought us a new washing machine that was getting delivered “between 1:00 and 5:00” — how’s that for an opening hook? — and with my morning free I set out early down Rt 9 to make the most of the Winter sunshine and stow some more road miles under my belt.
Hey, all. Well, as one Pony Express rider remarked to another, it’s been way too long between posts. A lot has happened, and almost nothing at all, but somehow I’ve accumulated enough material over the last few weeks for several posts. It’s just that all the actual living part keeps getting in the way.
G’day, folks, and thanks for all the good wishes I received after my first New York-based post. I’ve been here a little over a week now and am acclimatising in more ways than one — Americans say acclimating: there’s another thing I have to acclimate to — and I haven’t been troubled by cold since that cry for help about frozen fingers in the last post. I’m getting used to the snow…
Somewhere over the mid-Pacific I swapped my camo hunting cap (found dangling on a tree in Pennsylvania while hiking the A.T.) for a beanie, arranged my flimsy, handkerchief-sized blankie and folded myself into an approximation of sleep. I always book a window seat when I can to avoid contact with fellow passengers, and refrain from bathroom trips if possible, a challenge that passes the time while building self-control and Olympic-standard bladder endurance. I managed 12 hours on this trip, I’m proud to say. Just limit your free drinks to a single gin and tonic and try not to look at the ocean.
Remember that wintry couple of days I stayed at Wing Road Farm, just out of Saratoga Springs, in January?
Well I came across a child of God, he was walking along the road And I asked him, tell where are you going, this he told me: Well, I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm, going to join in a rock and roll band. Got to get back to the land, set my soul free ~ Joni Mitchell (performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), ‘Woodstock’ I’m not goin’ back to Woodstock for a while, Though I long to hear that lonesome hippie smile. I’m a million miles away from that helicopter day No, I don’t believe I’ll be goin’ back that way. ~ Neil Young, ‘Roll Another Number (For the Road)’ Hippies are squares with long hair And they don’t wear no underwear Country rock is on the wane I don’t want music, I want pain! ~ Dictators, ‘Master Race Rock’
Back to Japan this post, folks: freezing Hokkaido and the beginning of my ill-fated and immediately disastrous attempt to walk the length of Japan from top to bottom in 2008 (my friend Chris was down in the tropical south, walking north).
The conclusion of yesterday’s tale. Two posts in 24 hours = two consecutive days of doing something useful at work! This could be habit-forming… So back I went along the ridge, down the foggy ruins of time (Bob Dylan), umbrella swishing nice cold raindrops into my eyes from low-hanging boughs. I dug my main camera back out of my pack, slung it round my neck and resumed my struggle against the forces of darkness — I mean the forces of moisture. I’m pretty reckless with that little machine, but I’d rather have it handy and risk a few raindrops than have to keep stopping and retrieving it.
Hey, people, thanks for dropping by as always. I’ve split this post, about last Saturday’s unexpectedly interesting little walk, into two parts, carefully calculated to allow uninhibited digestion over two consecutive bowls of cereal. Expect the next installment in 24 hours or so.
Howdy, strangers. For the second time in Korea I’ve been knocked horizontal by something nastier than a common cold. Everything ached; party season at Club Mountaingoat was reluctantly curtailed. My malaise was exacerbated by an injured rib from a fall a few weeks back: every cough was a blade through my chest. Then just as the rib seemed to be mending, I coughed so hard I threw out my lower back, an old injury that flares up once or twice a year to transform me overnight from Bear Grylls to Grandpa Simpson. As you know, I’m not the complaining type, so I withdrew from the world and stewed in anonymity.
So, where was I? So, where am I? So, where will I be? So many questions.
Yesterday I did my first hike of the year in Korea, a fun climb up a boulder field that spills down one of Bulmo-San’s numerous ridges. It was sunny and unseasonably warm; the frozen arteries of the Daecheongcheon, the poor blighted stream that trickles through Jangyu on its concrete-bound journey to liberation, were melting into the previous day’s bounty of rain. Just before the stream leaves the mountains, in one last desperate gasp of river-ness, the Jangyu Cascades churned with more power than I’ve seen in my year here. It was a good hike.
Well, what can I say, people, you missed the Christmas party of the century here in swinging downtown Yulha…