Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Getting away from it all for a few days is salutory

As you can see from the photo the countryside up in New England is quite green at the moment. The long grass by the side of the highway might be straw-coloured but many fields are tinged with a light green. The hills are often blue in the distance with their load of eucalyptus trees. The eucalypts also demurely display their shy brilliance along the road as you pass through the countryside at speed.

Although I feel at home and comfortable in warm Sydney it's good occasionally to get up into the mountains of the northern tablelands, in the precincts of New England in NSW. While I was up there this time the sun was bright during the day but at night the heat just escapes the atmosphere, making the early morning very cold. Yesterday morning as I scraped the ice of the car windows with a coffee-shop membership card my fingers turned icy and painful. But it just reminds you that you are growing old, as we all must eventually.

Getting away from the routine, from familiar faces, sounds, environments, and the pressing concerns of the quotidian can be a tonic too. You may lie in your warm bed after dinner has been consumed and after you have had a shower, and let your thoughts burble, strut, idle, zoom, buzz, spring, zip and mosey along. As you lie there with the strange walls of the motel surrounding you and the background noise of the TV tuned to the regular show dinning slightly in your ears your mind has a nice blankness to it that might be a relief from how it normally operates when you are at home. You are isolated, immune and sealed off from the things that might worry you during your normal day. You can find a strange sort of restless peace in this kind of environment.

Outside, the town is settling itself down to sleep. The cold air sweeps through the empty streets. These are nights of lore, nights we used to sing about in nursery rhymes. Not a creature was stirring ... And in the darkness as your blank mind ambles along airy skeins of evening silence a different set of thoughts might come to you, or in fact none at all (which might indeed be a relief).

Then after sleeping away the night - if you are lucky - in senseless abandon you wake up and for a moment you wonder where you are. What does that shadow mean? Whose curtains are those? Then it hits you: you are still in New England in the small motel with the thin wooden doors painted brown where the hot water in the shower is difficult to regulate to a comfortable temperature. You might then hear a neighbour - awake earlier than you - outside talking to his wife as he loads the car ready for the day's drive to wherever they are headed.

There are thousands of stories passing you by on the road as you tug the car along the blacktop and through the sweeping curves of the high mountain passes. Each sealed unit contains a unique set of dreams and unrealised aspirations - so don't rush!

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