It has been far too long since I last visited here. Life has been keeping me busy.
In the middle of last year, I took up a role in community cultural development, the dream job in fact, working with artists, groups and community folk to make our area a little more creative. As much of my work is supporting local creatives and developing projects, there isn’t much opportunity for my own artmaking, but as a whole, it’s enourmously rewarding.
These are some of the more colourful projects you may have seen around town.
Jasmine is in the air.
My heart always leaps when I smell the first scent of jasmine for the year. It promises long summer days and warm evenings in the sea, and salads and fruit and sitting outdoors with friends.
So with the storm now passed and waking to a fine day I was inspired to get into the garden. Between my awesome new job, the battle with bandicoots and general winter hibernation, my herbs have been quite neglected. The only thing that’s really survived the cold months was the lemongrass, which I chopped back today to dry and use as tea. But I bought some parsley and a few pots of colour from the market which will start to revive my little garden.
Later James and I headed down to the harbour for a picnic lunch and a lazy hour and a half soaking up the sun.
Mrs Morley is a 99 year old, six days a week, haberdashery shop owner and she’s worked in her tiny shop in Manly since 1989.
In a gesture of good will and community spirit, Mrs Morley’s retail neighbour, Desire Books organised a ‘cash mob’ calling on folks to come down to the store on Saturday morning to spend $5 in the shop.
It was really heartwarming to join the queue in a show of support for local, independent business and to meet others happy to take time out from busy schedules to chat and have a cup of tea and pick up some cotton or a metre or two of ribbon. There is something very special in that.
Oh, and Mrs Morley still tallies up all your sewing notions without a calculator.
To watch a very lovely video of the day, visit here.
I forgot I’d taken this picture. I was on my way home from Hemingway’s late last Tuesday, where we had toasted to Dickens on his 200th birthday. The moon was full, breaking through the heavy clouds that have become a feature of this mild summer.
The wind is rushing after us, and the clouds are flying after us, and the moon is plunging after us, and the whole wild night is in pursuit of us; but, so far we are pursued by nothing else.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I took Rosemary and Yumi to Collins beach some weeks ago. I probably talked it up, but it’s remarkable this secluded beach is just minutes from the bustle of Manly’s Corso. When we arrived though, I was shocked by the amount of rubbish that had been washed up in the high tide. Plastic bags, wrappers and bottles were strewn across the beach, looking more like a tip than one of Sydney’s fine harbour beaches.
It’s easy to lay blame on tourists or the local council but the sad reality is rubbish, particularly plastic waste that finds its way into the ocean, is not only an eyesore but a threat to marine life as they become entangled or ingest it, causing injury or death. So it really becomes everyone’s responsibility.
There are numerous grassroots campaigns that are making positive change in this area because they are accessible and localise action. In the case of the Two Hands Project, all you need is “30 minutes, Two hands, Anywhere, Anytime” to make change, while Take 3’s message is “take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference”.
It’s also inspiring to see how people are turning rubbish into art. I took the following picture at Confest a few years ago. I’m afraid I don’t have a name to credit, but this artist collected hundreds of discarded cigarette lighters, washed up along waterways, to create striking mandalas.
I took the ferry into town today. The crossing of the heads was rough, casting up salt spray to mingle with the rain on the window panes and obscure the view. So I made the most of the journey, taking a few photos and reading my book.
I’ve been working my way through The Elegance of the Hedgehog, about a conscierge in Paris and the characters that live in the apartments above. Muriel Barbery’s observations on life and culture are insightful and a delight to read.
As it happened, I was up to the chapter about summer rain as I was returning home.
Do you know what a summer rain is?
To start with, pure beauty striking the summer sky, awe-filled respect absconding with your heart, a feeling of insignificance at the very heart of the sublime, so fragile and swollen with the majesty of things, trapped, ravished, amazed by the bounty of the world.
And then, you pace up and down a corridor and suddenly enter a room full of light. Another dimension, a certainty just born. The body is no longer a prison, your spirit roams the clouds, you possess the power of water, happy days are in store, in this new birth.
Just as teardrops, when they are large and round and compassionate, can leave a long strand washed clean of discord, the summer rain as it washes away the motionless dust can bring to a person’s soul something like endless breathing.
That is the way a summer rain can take hold in you – like a new heart, beating in time with another’s.