all the fallen trees

so here i am, back where i started this blog. this morning i crossed paths with beverley (from the very first post). i was running towards one end of the beach and she the other. we met, she matched her pace to mine and we ran together along the beach, catching up on the past few months, moving through the morning, making 2 more sets of footprints on the soldier-crabbed beach. the tide was high and we had to clamber over rocks bisecting the beach. i felt sad. since i was here last trees have been lost to storms and the sea. many many casuarinas (they are my mother’s favorite tree-whispering needles graceful in the wind and soft beds of them on the ground) were dying on the beach, and a hoop pine and an indian almond. a cyclone passed just north of here some weeks ago, bringing with it king tides and floods and undermining the delicate dune-zone – i think this might more correctly be called the supralittoral zone – edging the coastal road.

i currently have time on my hands. i’m between honours and my (very unformed) PhD. i have come up here to spend time with my mother, to companion her for a time (“a time” being an indeterminate measure of “how long will you be up there?”). i don’t like to say i “care” for my mum because i think it takes away some of her agency, and diminishes and infantilises a human who is in her own power as an autonomous older woman. she requires some assistance because she is blind, but more than this she requires intelligent conversation, company on her long walks, good food and access to a rich cultural life. this stuff i try to facilitate when i am with her.

usually it is my older sister who does an incredible job of making my mother’s life enjoyable but she is currently not really able to commit that time. her partner has (mostly asymptomatic, which is both a blessing and a curse) stage 4 glioblastoma, which is an aggressive brain cancer, and not survivable for the majority of ordinary humans. the story of cancer survival and cure is complicated and it is not a story i can tell here. there’s alot going on, more than just this awful thing. suffice to say things here are sad and sometimes confusing and levity is a commodity necessary to the navigation of the emotional landscape.

so on the trainride up north i thought alot about maintaining my own wellbeing in the midst of this heavy weather and about the importance of seeking joy. which might give rise to feelings of guilt. this person is dying, i should die too. pre-emptive grief is almost irresistible. it’s unseemly to laugh in the face of death. and even the beach seems to agree, with all the fallen trees. i think there are about 80 or 90 uprooted and dying trees. but the casuarina is a fast growing tree and the beach is self-effacing and yet resilient. never always gone.

the soles of my feet are remembering the sand painfully, with blood blisters and abraded skin. at 5.30am it is already unbearably humid here. the sea is like a warm bath, like swimming in blood. after an hour of running i arrive home dripping and tripping, uplifted and able to share some of the goodwill generated by the run, however hard the day might be.

and today is hard.

some days i go to yoga at the local community hall and do the most committed practise i can, in order to create the best possible conditions for joy to arise. the hall is beautiful, i love it, with high ceilings and swing windows. i lie on my back in savasana, looking up at the ceiling fan and the old fluorescent tube and it might be the prettiest arrangement i have ever seen.

and today is hard, but this color blue, or green… (i don’t know the name of this colour) is a blessing.



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