Posts Tagged “Melbourne”

Here in Australia it’s the last day of spring - traditionally a time of new life. So I wanted to share pictures of some of the younglings I’ve seen in the last couple of months, as well as some reflections on what new life means to me. There are a lot of ducklings, but don’t be alarmed - other birds and animals get a look in too.

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“As all things come to an end, even this story, a day came at last when they were in sight of the country where Bilbo had been born and bred, where the shapes of the land and of the trees were as well known to him as his hands and toes.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

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Covid-19 has completely changed our world, and we don’t know how long the disruptions will last or what will come next. When people talk about living during a “historic moment”, this is what they’re talking about.

So I wanted to record some of my personal impressions, starting from the time when the novel coronavirus felt like a distant problem affecting other people, not something which would change my life.

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In the last year, I have seen a large number of Australian birds and animals in the wild while walking, and have had people ask me how to get that to happen. Unfortunately, I don’t have any magic solutions, but here’s my experience with a little advice, some stories, and lots of photos.

Colourful Dandenong Ranges birdlife

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When I put my “tourist” hat on, I become a different person. Untied by work or family obligations, with personal life largely on hold, I am free to search out the best experiences. For others, a holiday may be relaxing - for me it is a full-time occupation (though sometimes relaxing too!)

When I return home, I resume normal life with its obligations, and also with the laziness that makes it much easier to sit in my house talking to my computer all weekend than getting out and doing something. This frustrates me, because I know there are plenty of fascinating places in Melbourne that I’ve never visited. I’m sure if I were a tourist I would spend more time seeking out those places.

A year ago, I returned from three months spent in the UK and Switzerland - long enough to make me pine for gum trees. When I got back, I made a commitment that I would try to bring a little more of that tourist spirit into my day-to-day life. It’s not the first time I’ve made that particular commitment, but this time I actually took steps to make it happen.

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As a proud member of the Dandenong Ranges community, I have the right to look down on others. And all it takes is a short walk to put me in a position to do so. The grand vista, the pure mountain air, the absolutely natural gravel and asphalt paths: everything testifies to my superior position as I look down on the mortals below. Up here, I am free and surrounded by views. Down there is a flat plain stretching out to the city, with the occasional bump pretending to be a hill. And doubtless that plain is filled with countless humans scurrying back and forth like ants on whatever minor projects occupy them.

This experience of looking down on others got me to thinking about hill-climbing, about seeking views, about linguistics, and about comparing ourselves with others.

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