30 October, 2021
Day 30 of Writing Nangak Tamboree.
A perfect, almost-still morning in Nangak Tamboree, after the wildness of the past 48 hours.
It’s the second-last day of this little writing project, and I’m revisiting a couple of favourite spots – places I will continue to visit. Today’s it’s the ‘beach’ at the top of Sports Field Lake, but there’s only one chair left here. The other one has probably been blown across to Altona, like that flying trampoline. I can hear the sounds of an actual sports team training on the other side of the water. Haven’t heard that for a while.
Oh, no – I see the missing chair. I recognise that glimpse of slender grey bar sticking out of the water. I grab a stick and retrieve it from the lake. It’s not quite Excalibur, but I feel triumphant nevertheless, and lean it up against a tree trunk, where it drips water in a channel through the dirt.
Coots duck and surface, and startle away from me. Fair enough. Across the water, my old friend the Darter is drying his feathers on a fallen tree trunk and shouting at the sky every so often.
Another Darter, a female this time, with caramel feathers, surfaces quite close by and I see now why they are also called Snakebirds. She vanishes and must move fast underwater, because her long neck and dagger-like beak emerge many metres away. She launches herself into the air while her body and wings are still submerged, becoming half-bird, half-waterfall, then drags her feet across the surface before taking flight in an elegant arc across the lake.
There are so many fallen trees and branches down across the state, and this place is no exception. But so many other things have changed in the time I’ve been coming here to write. Lockdown is over now and today is the first day we are allowed to leave the city. So soon, we’ll hit the road to (at last!) get up to my little place in the country to check on it, do some fire season preparation, and spend the night. It feels extraordinary to go somewhere that is not the same as every other night for the past many months. Again. I remember this feeling from this time last year though, and I’m not going to fall for that optimism again. Anything could still happen with this pandemic.
We’ve gone, in the past month of me walking and writing here, from an enforced five kilometre limit to ten kilometres, to 25 kilometres, to the city boundaries, to the state borders. Our horizons keep changing, like a cinematic zoom.
But let’s not forget these little local spaces we’ve explored in such detail while we’ve stayed so close to home.
I’ll be back tomorrow to say goodbye. But I guess I won’t really leave Nangak Tamboree.