Sunday, January 09, 2005


A cold wind played its way across grass and ruffled taller bracken near the lake's edge. Lending it's bluster to the placid water's surface, the wind stirred a tempest, varnish-thin, that - for all it's fury - could not disturb the stillness below.

It did not touch the trees. They feigned death with the skill that comes of a lifetime's practice and nothing of this earth could wake them now from their winter's slumber.

I walked toward this tableau, across a plain of grass, gently shedding my awareness of the world of concrete and machine. Leaving it behind me like a cloak to be retrieved on my return journey.

Something ahead of me drew me forward, as it had always done. A gentle pull at my breastbone urged me, coaxed me onward. The world to all sides, the things that I could not see, falling away into insignificance - it's sights gone once they passed the periphery of my vision, it's noises ebbing away to nothing.

The lake offers me something every time I surrender to it. Contours that will not change their course in my lifetime obligingly don new cladding at the behest of each season, reminding me of the swift passage of time since I arrived here.

The changes fascinate me - a child of more tropical climes - and I greet small outcrops of trees, remembered glades and favorite curves of water as old friends - superficially different yet familiar in fundamentals - pleasingly grown since the last time we met.

What the lake and it's surrounding forest will choose to impart is never known to me beforehand. I venture there alone with no expectation beyond immediate sensory enjoyment and in this I am never dissappointed. Yet, on recollection, each visit is tinged with an emotion. A realisation or a reflection that stands out in comparison to others.

And so it was that this time it was to death that my mind turned. Not a morbid reflection or a sadness but a strangely calm acceptance of it's place in the order of things and the realisation that it can strike in one of two ways.

Suddenly, terribly and tragically - as we all have had ample proof of this Christmas period.

And it can come slowly...encroaching inevitably to engulf something we once treasured. It is this type that I was thinking of at the lake, bare trees around me, water dark and sluggish. It's the kind of death that bears down like winter, announcing it's intent for anyone willing to listen. I came to believe that when something dies in this way we should consider ourselves fortunate that there is time and opportunity to ensure nothing is unsaid and undone, that we can prepare ourselves as best as we can for the inevitable. And since it is inevitable, perhaps accept the grief with more grace than we could otherwise bear.

The sun seems to tire early in the evenings these days and I knew that to stay here for too long would quickly become dangerous. Taking one last look, I was struck by the stillness that engulfed everything around me, despite the wind. It was like the stillness of the lake - deep at the core and unmovable - but waiting for something to move it. It seemed to stretch itself out toward me and quiet me as few other things can.

I smiled as I imagined the riot of colours and growth, the movement and exuberance that spring would bring once again to this ground and it gave me the strength to wait out the winter in hope.


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