This morning’s coffee was seasoned with a pinch of salt… a salty breeze.
The earthy scent of exposed mudflats mixes with the fresh cool air off the bay. Now and then the rancid smell of stale deep fryer oil drifts from the nearby fish and chip shop to combine with the pungent odour of defrosting prawns exposed to the sun as they lay waiting to be threaded onto a hook.
I move to the upwind side of the jetty, lifted the lid from my mug and inhaled the far more enticing aroma of my coffee. I smiled to myself as I watched two young friends bickering over fishing tactics like an old couple, and think, these are the perfect ingredients and a great recipe for the perfect morning.
As a line twitches they spark up with excitement, only to fall silent as they realise it was the wind tugging on their line and not the larger-than-life fish they had hoped for. They discuss the state of their world, assess their rigging and crack a joke as they settle in to wait patiently for “the big one“.
I take the last almost cold sip from my near empty coffee mug, chuckle under my breath and settle in to wait patiently myself for the tide to turn, their enthusiasm to wane and their hunger pangs to take hold.
I can feel the turn of the season. The sultry humidity of summer is fading into cooler nights. Today as I glance upward, I appreciate the warmth of my coffee. The sky is rapidly transforming – the bright blue to grey, the grey to charcoal. The fresh cleansing scent of rain approaches on the strengthening breeze. The soil is already soaked but mother nature clearly intends to saturate it just a little more.
Isn’t it funny, ironic really, that we crave nature within our lives – as much greenery as possible both in and around our homes. Clean clear bodies of water within reach. The sound of birdsong over the screech of traffic. Fresh air drifting through trees instead of smog polluting our lungs… And yet, we spend much of our time actually keeping nature at bay!
We deny the nature of our bodies and the natural ageing process. We rip the hair from our skin. We both bleach and tan our bodies. We apply potions and lotions, and resort to surgery in the quest to preserve physical youth.
We love and tend to our gardens, and yet spend much of our free time cutting them back, killing the plants we don’t like and mowing the forever growing grass in an attempt to sculpt our surrounds rather than leaving them to grow as nature intended.
We build houses overlooking oceans, perched on clifftops and lining the banks of rivers, only to deny the water’s natural flow during a king tide, or a storm, or a flood. Keeping the water at bay with barricades of sandbags.
It just occurred to me that we have taken on an eternal battle with an ultimately foreseeable outcome. We seek to have close contact with mother nature, and the general populous is doing what they can to preserve our natural environment, yet paradoxically, we constantly find ourselves keeping nature at bay.
We may seek to control our planet and mould its natural components to our desires, but in the end – no matter what the outcome – the planet will win.
It’s a new year… I have a fresh coffee. The gentle breeze cools my skin, a bird twitters lazily on a nearby branch, and I muse over the year that was… but more importantly, I plan a positive start to the year ahead.
We all make “New Year’s resolutions” – some on a grander scale, while others remain a little more private. Most of us resolve to make the new year one of greater health and wealth. More exercise, less indulgent food, and perhaps a career change or pay rise. They are all great goals, but are they specific enough to achieve?
This year I’ve decided to get down to grassroots and create some achieveable new habits… A short walk with my daughter each day – not a marathon, just time to reconnect with my tech-distracted teen, and I will switch my lunchtime sandwich to a bowl of salad more often – always healthier to “eat the rainbow“. I also plan to enroll in a course that will equip me to use my writing skills to supplement our income, and a better opportunity to feed my passion for the written word. There you go… That’s it, “health and wealth” addressed!
It wasn’t until the night before last, as I settled my almost 9-year-old son to bed, that I stumbled across my most important resolution…
He asked me ‘what was something that I thought made me the best person I can be?’ I replied to say that I hoped it might be my caring nature and consideration for others that make me a good person. He was quiet for a moment and then his small voice quietly whispered into the darkness, “If you be a bit more selfish and look after yourself more, then you might be an even better person than you already are“. His wise words and perception, well beyond his years, left my heart full and my mouth speechless.
I now have my most important reason for a resolution – perhaps for all of us, given the life changing events of the past year – and that is to take better care of myself, so that I may better care for those I love.
The damp chill of a few rainy days gives way to the comforting warmth of the sunshine as it breaks through the heavy cloud cover, burning it off to bring in a clear sunny, freshly washed afternoon. My coffee offers soothing warmth from within as the bright light radiates surprising heat upon my skin.
Upward the sky becomes more blue than grey. The breeze jostles the last few clouds upon their way across the horizon while rustling the treetops in a dance of appreciation – both for the life-giving rain, and now the clearer sunny weather. The garden around me is almost an iridescent green punctuated by a rainbow myriad of flowers… not a still life painting, but rather an idyllic real life backdrop to soften the less than idyllic realities of our every day.
Trying to juggle a home and work life. Trying to prioritise between family and money. Trying to find a way of managing that limbo between the end of the school day, and the end of an average work day.
To those parents who successfully manage that difficult time of day, I take my hat off to you. Quite often the cost of that after-school care can negate the cost of working longer hours, but not utilising that option can also – understandably – cost your employment.
Now that I’ve made that statement, I think I’ve clarified my own solution… this global pandemic of COVID-19 has forced upon us an unprecedented situation in which we are being forced to re-evaluate, juggle and re-balance our entire lives. Some income is better than no income in a time where one might easily become the other.
Many of us are at different points in our COVID-19 pandemic experience. After almost two months in lockdown, our children returned to school today. Although the temperatures are cooler, we woke to a bright blue and cloudless sky. Barely a breath of breeze jostled the leaves in the tall gums. The usual chorus of birdsong joined us in greeting the day. The only real difference this morning was a louder hum of traffic in the distance as more commuters returned to the office – my partner included.
My brood displayed the whole range of enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for the return to school… My eldest was excited to rejoin her friends and was ready for school without a fuss. My youngest was a little reluctant, however cooperative, and we managed to arrive at school, if a little late. My classic middle child suffered a bad dose of the “first day jitters“ to the point where he became physically ill. I was forced to issue an ultimatum – off to school or bedrest (no devices or distractions) all day. Bedrest has been chosen and I’m hoping that boredom today will create a little more enthusiasm for tomorrow.
It is surprising how much our minds can influence our physical well being. For some it is easier than others to overcome unchecked emotions. It can be both difficult and frustrating, for those who genuinely want to help, to understand someone who struggles with their anxieties.
Some of us ventured out into the world, and our “new normal“ today, let’s hope that with a little understanding and a lot of support that we can all get a little closer to our “old normal“ tomorrow.
How was your return to school and working life? I’d love to hear…
I didn’t think I particularly needed lifting this morning, but I did feel a little flat. Fighting off a cold and not getting enough sleep will do that to you.
Once the morning “rush hour“ had passed, I planned to catch up with a friend for a quick coffee… two hours and two coffees later we suddenly realised we had a day to get on with.
While we were chatting, it seemed as though the weather were reflecting the tone and mood of our conversation. We hadn’t caught up in quite a while so there were lots of “issues“ to discuss.
We met and the skies were cloudy – maybe a little threatening. Our conversation took on a serious note as the thunderheads gathered and the sky outside darkened, becoming quite ominous. Lightning flashed, illuminating the gloom, then a crash of thunder rattled the windows and a torrent of rain coincided with our enthusiastic outpouring of emotion when discussing the most important people in our lives.
The storm passed and the brooding darkness lifted, so too did our spirits. We chatted and laughed.
As a few bright rays of sunshine pierced the clouds, we parted feeling lighter, and – like the trees outside – cleansed and refreshed, ready to take on the rest of our day.