Growing Up

It’s home time. I’m taking the red eye from Perth to Sydney, which leaves at the rather uncivilised hour of 5 minutes to midnight. I’m rounding off this rather spontaneous trip with a rather spontaneous glass of white. I haven’t done spontaneous for a while. I think I used to be more spontaneous – I remember a random weekday spur of the moment trip to Brighton pre-kids, skipping work the next day to wander around the rides, eat ice-cream and drink champagne. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t completely out of the norm for me.

I’ve reached a point in my life where so much of who I am and what I do is tied into the lives of other people, it is hard to know where they end and I begin. But where I used to be the centre of things, now I feel peripheral. Sort of surplus to requirements. Mothers with teenagers might recognise this feeling. You wake up one day to find you live in a house full of almost grown-ups, who are busy being independent and secretive, and working out how to navigate their own way in the world without your interference. My husband tells me this means we’ve done a good job. But I feel a bit bewildered. I used to be the most important person in their lives, but they’ve grown up without so much as a backward glance.

I look backwards though and realise I never got a chance to say goodbye to the little people who used to fill my days with their chatter and demands, their singing and their stories, who held my hand and wanted to tell me about their day. Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted by the humans my children are growing into. When they choose to, they are good company. Funny and kind, and full of outrage at injustice and overflowing with ideas on how to make the world a better place.  And I’m proud of them. Fit to bust proud. They bring me joy. But they no longer need me in the same way, and they no longer need the same sort of thing from me. Unconditional love and being available remains of course, but that’s about it. They need space, they need encouragement to spread their wings, they need hugs and advice, but only on request. Perhaps what has changed is that they are calling the shots in our relationship.

I don’t know if people warn you about the sense of grief that comes with this stage of life. About the saying goodbye, and the need to reinvent yourself in your late forties. Perhaps they do, but maybe we are so busy worrying about sleeping patterns and nappies, about what school they should go to and, in our case anyway, asthma and anaphylaxis that we don’t pay attention to the ministering’s of middle aged women with grouchy teens in tow. Regardless, here I find myself, in need of a new version of me, one that is not mother centric.

I peer back into the past to see if I can catch a glimpse of an earlier version of me, but that person was young and full of insecurities. And our dreams no longer match up. I’m wiser now, rounder in both body and spirit, and with mileage in my soul, I see barely a shadow of myself in the younger version of me. Like an oak tree contemplating an acorn I suppose. There is something quite liberating in this activity though. Pleasure floods through me when I realise I am no longer as fragile, no longer as desperate to be liked or no longer as hungry to make my mark on the world. I am, I come to a startling conclusion, content. I mull this concept around in my mind for a while. Contentment. It is so far from what I think I wanted in life, and yet, I like the way it feels. Smooth. Pleasing. Comfortable. I’m shrugging this on, like my new furry coatigan, while I work out what I want to do for this next stage of my life. How I want to spend my time and energy, which is less boundless than it once was. And I come to the conclusion that this stage of life is a gift. An opportunity to think again about where to direct oneself. It comes with the acceptance that there is no destination that does not fly past before you’ve had time to unpack and change the bed linen. Life is flow. Life is motion. Life is what happens between events. Life must be lived in the moment.

So here I find myself, a little, on a spontaneous trip to Perth to see friends and family, on my own. With no one to worry about or look after, I have the time to be self-absorbed and still. To just be. To sit at a bar in an airport and drink a glass of wine at the approach of midnight. I haven’t taken time for myself in nearly a decade, but I think I could get used to getting to know myself again. It’s been a while.

Weekend on Kangaroo Island

On Friday we got on a plane for the first time since the pandemic and made our way to beautiful South Australia for a romantic weekend away. It was our 18th wedding anniversary and part of our success at this thing called marriage is, I think, taking time to hang out and reconnect with each other on a regular basis.

As we traverse through the airport, and sit in our tiny economy Qantas seats (did they get smaller?), everyone happily masked up, I marvel at the adaptability of human beings. I think it’s one of the superpowers of our species, this ability to flexibly adjust to changing circumstances.

It’s a two hour, largely smooth, flight to Adelaide and then an 80 minute drive down the ferry to Kangaroo Island. The landscape we drive through is brown and dry; large, rounded hills that seem covered in a mousy coating of dried grass. But they fall off into a sea of startling turquoise, and between them are lush moments of greenery and endless vineyards too that are still heavy with tinges of burnt umber autumnal leaves.

The ferry ferries (!) our car and several trucks and caravans across an aqua sea towards Australia’s third biggest island, for now merely a brown smudge on the horizon. The boat trip is smooth and the lunch we gulped down during a whistle stop visit to Victor Habour remains safely where it belongs. (Not so on the way home, although being outside to avoid seasick vomiting meant I saw the dolphins).

It is a 45 minute trip and we arrive at Penneshaw with a mechanical pirouette that spins the boat around on a dime to reverse in. The ship sounds like it is gnashing its teeth, but I’m distracted by the transparency of the water. How can it be so clear?

We arrive in the late afternoon, but not too late to make it across to Kangaroo Island Spirits for a flight of gin and a little rest in their fairy light bedecked gin-garden. The gins are lovely, the service brimming with good cheer (everyone seems friendly in South Australia, but that probably says more about NSW). I have a lychee gin and tonic, and determine that it will not be my last. Mike buys two bottles to go with our other 16. We could open a bar.

Because the gin place closes early and dinner is a while away yet, we stop at the brewery. It’s a tin shed, with leather sofas and a roaring fire, and bar seating in front of wide windows that frame a stunning view across the countryside. We plonk ourselves down in front of it, wine and beer in hand, and fall into conversation with neighbouring patrons from Melbourne. We like it so much we come back the next night too.

Our first full day on Kangaroo Island starts early with a park run. I think there are about 26 people in attendance – pretty usual, we’re told, and mostly tourists. We run along the edge of the island, in the company of some sort of brown soaring kite, past gliding swans (who knew they did saltwater?) and ungainly pelicans, and flocks of pied cormorants, gathered together in large messy groups, like skulking judges in their frocks.

We drive down to the other end of the island, to the fire ravished Flinders Chase National Park. I can’t imagine what this placed looked like before last year’s fires ripped through this half of the island, taking 98% of the park with it. But for now, it is lush with low growth – a sea of green and budding life that stretches out until the sea. It is for the rocks we’ve come though.

Admirals Arch is impressive, but it is the seals and sealions that really get our attention. Lollying over rocks they are at first hard to spot. But once we see one, we see that the rocks below seethe with them – different shapes, shades and species. Little ones cavort endlessly, falling into the crashing waves and chasing each other through the sea spray, while fat and tired mamma’s take in the sunshine. It is cold here on this peninsula that stretches into an ocean that bumps up against Antarctica. The wind howls in our ears and tugs at our jackets, and whips our hair into a birds nest of knots.

The Remarkable Rocks are, indeed, remarkable. They stand like a monument to Dali, shaped and smoothed and carved out by nature herself. I’m reminded of the ones we saw crossing from Chile to Bolivia via the Salar de Uyuni. They are sentinels to the passing of time, standing between the ocean and a sandy landscape of blackened trees. It is stark place, but also beautiful. Timeless.

The route home takes us past Vivonne Bay, which is supposed to be renowned for a beautiful beach. The sand is white but it starts to rain when we arrive and the sea is violent and thundery. Instead, we stop at The General Store for lunch (whiting burger on gluten free roll, very yum). I’m glad I made the decision to stay in Kingscote though. Vivonne Bay is beautiful, but it’s remote from shops and restaurants for only a weekend stay.

Finally we wrap up our touristy day with a quick stop to Seal Bay. And this is a highlight on a highlight filled day. Do not skip this! We haven’t booked a tour, but the boardwalk takes us around the breeding grounds where mums and babies lie in paired cocoons. Baby seals are about the cutest things you can ever hope to see in your life. They are playful, curious, social and lost babies cry with a heart rending plea that sets my own mum hormones alight. I’m in awe of people who dedicate their life to conservation work like this.

As we walk to the look out we have an encounter of a less cute kind. A black tiger snake is making its way along the pathway. He (she?) flares his head at us in annoyance and I’m almost paralysed by fear. Not by this one, particularly, although I’m definitely following instructions and slowly stepping away. But rather by the notion that I’ve probably walked past any number of them just out of sight below a bush or beneath a rock today, a momentary breath away from a deadly encounter. To be fair, I’ve lived in Australia for 20 years and it is the first snake in the wild I’ve seen. Nonetheless, we stopped at the brewery for a calming drink on the way home!

We’re pretty tired out from driving the next day, so we stay closer to Kingscote. We visit the Sunday market, about 6 stalls in total and buy a few knick knacks to take home. There are all of 30 people there, but no one seems that fussed. It is hard to conceive living in so small a community. Even a late night trip to Coles has more people where we live.

After that, we go wine tasting. There are five wine makers on the island, I think. We visit the three closest to us and are not disappointed. At The Islander Estate we taste beautiful reds we would never buy ourselves ($150 a bottle is a little steep for my uneducated palate, but I can see the appeal for those with a wine interest), and beautiful reds and whites we would. We have a prosecco that sparkles off my tongue with dancing deliciousness. We order 6 to be delivered – as soon as possible. Sophie gives us an entertaining rundown on both wine and island life, and we go and see her dad’s sheep munching in the vineyards at the next place.

I love this local feel of thing. The lack of pretence and the quiet confidence of something done well for its own sake. For pleasure.

Springs Road Wines is our next stop, but I’ve already been drinking their wines at the local brewery. Still, with limited distribution, we bring some home with us all the same (one breaks in transit, soaking everything in the smell of fermented grapes ;( ) . Finally, we stop at Bay of Shoals. We order a platter of goodies – meats and cheeses and olives and what not, and a bottle of wine and sit on the hill watching the water sparkle in the bay and the kangaroos graze amongst the vines that roll down the hill towards it.

Is two days enough to see Kangaroo island? It depends I suppose on what you want to do. One additional day would have allowed us to visit the other part of the island, the part closest to Penneshaw. American River and False Cape and Dudley Wines. A bit more time and we could have gone Koala seeking, or at least visited the wildlife parks. Still, it was enough to get a taste of it. Enough to feel rested and rejuvenated, and #blessed to live in this fine and bountiful land, with its phenomenal trove of natural treasures.

Onwards to the next adventure

Sharlene – April 2021

14 days in a Camper Van (and it rained a lot!)

Day 1

It always takes longer than you think to gather yourself together, work out just what parts of your house you need to take with you, get it into the van and get underway. I am reminded to set closer locations for the first nights stay.

We finally leave at 2.30 and make the 3.5 hour drive to the Booti Booti National Park, and the seven miles of beach front at the doorstep of the Ruins Campground. Along the way we realize we’ve forgotten important things like a bucket for lugging dirty dishes to campsite washing up facilities and a sharp knife. When we arrive we remember mozzie coils and candles. Oh well.

We motor through torrential rain, but it has stopped when we arrive in time for drinks on the spectacular beach – endless it seems into the mists on the northern end – and wrapped in a wind blown fur coat of silver green. The sky is brooding with rain clouds yet spent but a touch of blue breaks through in time for evening’s orange glow. We drink gin, eat yummy unhealthy snacks and remember how much we enjoy family van life. 

Day 2 

Things are, as always with my family, slow to start, but I take the opportunity for a morning walk in the blustery sea breeze on a beach strewn with blue bottles. I am reminded just how much I love the sea. I feel as wide as the ocean out here, free from daily life.

We meander northwards.

Battling through a mozzie infested rainforest to a tree top look out that takes in the wide sweep of tumultuous ocean, and the endless yellow sands of beaches miles long, we find that some people, young no doubt and still in the grip of passion’s intense embrace, have taken the trouble of inscribing locks and attaching them to the railings of the lookout tower.

One mile beach beckons with crashing waves and cappuccino foam and the excitement on the faces of my children as they swim amidst the push and pull of the waves  is delightful. The feeling in my chest when I look at them having fun is what love feels like.

We travel over rivers swollen and brown with rain to have tea at a lookout where the effect of the runoff is demarcated in the sea. The rain returns as we cross Little Beach and make our way to Taking Point lighthouse near Port Macquarie. As the rain pummels down, we wrap ourselves into our Campervan with wine and spaghetti Bolognese and hope we don’t get bogged in tomorrow.

Day 3 

We start the day at an astonishingly excellent aqua park, seemingly randomly situated in the middle of nowhere – a sort of raw challenge in water which reminds me to work on my pelvic floor and upper body strength.

Our meandering takes us to coffee conversations about careers and futures with our nearly adult children in a cute restaurant in Kempsie, before a walk and sort of swim on yet another endless beach.The sea is brown and bitty, full of the after effects of last month’s floods, but the walk is refreshing and watching the kite surfers mesmerizing.

We amble into Bellingen, lush and green and bursting with fat cows, for dinner with our oldest of Australian friends at a bar buzzing with people having a very good time. Tonight we are free camping. It is hot and, momentarily anyway, not raining. But this town is gorgeous and one I fall in love with immediately. 

Day 4

Today is all about splashing about in the lush green backyard of Bello. We meander into the Promised Land to swim in a creek with water so cold it makes your breath freeze up inside you. It is as clear as air, and the rocks twinkle below, uncomfortable underfoot. But we find a pool big and wide enough for the kids to satisfy their desire for jumping off things.

We push the bus up the mountain into panoramic vistas of fertile greenery, and find ourselves agog with the sheer magnificence of the countryside. It is Waterfall Way we are trundling along and so it is unsurprising to find ourselves in the company of several torrents of water cascading down the steep incline.

Our last stop of the afternoon is the rainforest walk in Dorrigo National Park. It is late-ish when we are arrive, but we are all a bit cantankerous with each other and set off for a 7.5km walk to breath in some space. It’s good for the head and the heart to be surrounded by towering trees and the convoluted, multi textured layers of this rainforest. It is beautiful beyond words, a fantastical landscape that surely must have played inspiration to fantasy writers the world over. It feels like we are lost in the movie Avatar.

We come across two main waterfalls, water thundering in white smoke down the slippery rocks, sending spray into our hair and faces, before hiking back out, up inclines my calves will feel for the rest of the week. Tonight we are sleeping in a Showground. It’s our first. I like it better than free camping on the side of a suburban street. And we are able to make a fire and watch the stars burst out of the twilight, while a cacophony of cicadas play their nightly tunes. This will do. 

Day 5

Is it really only day 5? The day starts in brilliant sunshine. We have slept on top of the world, or so it seems. When I step out of the Campervan after a ridiculously good night’s sleep everything is clean and vivid and fresh.

Our first stop is Dangar Falls – closed to the the uninitiated. But we follow the general throng of people clambering around stay out signs and pick our way down to a fabulous waterhole at the base of a waterfall that cascades off the rocks above and makes its own rain. There is much swimming and laughing amidst the spray coming from the churning water.

We also trek out to Ebor for another waterfall. The languid, barely noticeable Guy Fawkes (why is this patch of brown water named after some British terrorist?) river tumbles with astonishing force over a staggeringly sheer cliff face – not once, but twice – a sort of double layer cake of a waterfall. There is a lot of water on waterfall way, but last year’s fires are in evidence in the closed off lookouts burnt to a crisp and the blackened trees which make their way deep into the valley and up the other side.

We head back down the mountain in torrential rain, wreathed in cloud which limits our visibility to about 10 meters at best. Coming down a sharp and winding incline when you can’t see much is an exercise in anxiety, but Mike is the hero of the hour as far as I am concerned and gets us to Coffs Harbor without many sharp intakes of breath from me.

Rain looks set to dog us for this holiday. After watching ash fall out of the sky last year I am not complaining (much) but it makes for a rather damp affair. We chase the sunshine nonetheless, hoping for bright spots as we continue to head north beneath the glaring signs forbidding us entry into Queensland without a permit. 

Day 6

Wet. Wet wet wet and grey. We go for a walk along the beach and onto the Marina in Coffs Harbour and get caught in a torrential downpour that leaves even our underwear dripping with water. Today we retreat to the Grafton movie cinema and watch Wonder Woman save the world from the chaotic ambition of one man’s narcissism. Prescience much? 

Day 7

Today continues in the same wet and grey vein as yesterday. We drive miles through gusty, blustery rain drenched fields of greenness – sugar cane, fruit trees, fields – before finding some sort of relief within the confines of Lord Byron’s cellar door. A good tour of the ins and outs of rum production and the purchase of several bottles of brew was the highlight of today.

That was until we arrive into the gorgeous beach side town of Kingscliff and set up home about as close to the beach as you can get without being in a boat. The weather remains dismal, and Mike and I get rained on yet again while we wander the high street, but the sound of the waves and the wide expanse of soft sand, the live music floating over the night air and the concrete slab we are parked on (and therefore a glorious lack of mud!) makes me feel very happy indeed! 

Day 8

Beachside life with one of our longest time friends. Swimming, talking, eating, drinking while our teenagers roamed free building an amazing desert island home and playing board games and tackling the crashing waves of the ocean on our doorstep. It ended with ice cream as beach days should. Exceptionally good day. Except for the bit where I got stung by a bee. That was exceptionally not good! 

Day 9

We have reached apogee in our travels and pivot around Fingal Head lighthouse to trace our way back home. The reason for trekking to this particular exposed rocky finger of earth stretching into the sea is to see dolphins and we do – in the distance, a large pod of fun seekers surfing the waves. We are still staring into the misty tumultuous waters when a squall hits us and we are drenched within seconds and having to do battle with a wind that would blow us right off the cliff tops.

Mike and I tour and lunch at Husk Distillery, home to our most favourite of gins – Ink Gin. It’s an upmarket slick affair that looks perfectly crafted by adept marketers but I am pleased to learn it is a family business done good, and although their new stills reach into the skies, each bottle is hand labeled and sealed. Lunch is divine – thick prawns with spicy chorizo for me and ink-gin infused salmon for Mike.

This afternoon we trundle into Byron Bay and, finally, some sunshine. This is a jam packed town and we are squashed into a beach side campsite with a million other campers. We spend the afternoon on the beach though, which is scarred quite badly by the recent floods. Stairways have been washed away, leaving gaping pathways 12 foot above the sand and the beach seems to be held together with sand bags. Ripped up vegetation is apparent everywhere, but the sand is flat and soft and the waves seem to suit the plethora of surfers who keep at it until darkness falls.

We walk into the town for ice cream, paddling ankle deep in the sea both there and back. On the return trip there is a rainbow that stretches from the lighthouse to the ocean and this feels like a fitting end to the day. 

Day 10 

Yamba in the sunshine. We walk up a steep ridge that Matt insists is entirely unnecessary and would be better off blown up, before lurching down the other side to reach a wide stretch of yellow beach and distant waves that crash and tumble with a ferocity that brings sheer joy to our son’s young face. He doesn’t notice but two dolphins cavort in the waves near him as he gets vaguely swept out to sea before battling his way back to a level he can stand on. Be still my racing heart.

We hike up the hill again and meander around to the lighthouse – our children learn the word phallic in this regard – and down again to another beach and alongside the Clarence River estuary. Matt spends the afternoon jumping off a cool jungle boat, and we walk down the breakwater for evening drinks in the setting sun. Dolphins play in the waves and we catch sight of them now and again between the fishing boats heading out of the river and into the roiling sea. The night sky is adorned with stars as we collapse into bed exhausted from yet more walking! This holiday is exhausting us – we may need to return to work for a rest. 

Day 11

What difference a little sunshine makes. We return to Coffs and the scene couldn’t be more different from our previous drenching experience. Matt jumps off the high points along the jetty with the locals, plummeting a long way down from my anxious perspective and we swim through the depths back to the shore together. I spend a lot of time not thinking about what marine life is swimming about below me, and I am glad we visit the dolphin and sea life conservation centre after the fact.

Here we see a slice of sea life from around these parts; snapper the size of small dogs swirl lazily with some sort of horned shark and rays and turtles. There are many turtles rehabilitating here, resting and degassing before being returned to the sea. The show stoppers of course are the dolphins, who put on a vigorous display and grin at the applause that greets their high flying antics. I love dolphins and I am brought to tears watching their playful interactions and thinking about the human parasite that wrecks havoc on the earth.

Later, we trundle down to the remarkably delightful hamlet of Urunga. It’s a different sort of place – set on a tidal lagoon I suppose that rises and falls with the sea. We walk (always walking) down the boardwalk at low tide, taking great delight in the bizarre array of crab life at play amongst the mangroves – strange scuttling spider like crabs with fat blue  backs (soldier crabs apparently), yellow one armed fiddler crabs that look like they’ve emerged from some sort of nuclear experiment, crabs with two red claws. As we walk along the estuary, with the tide returning , we see dolphins! The women next to me says “I’ve been coming here for 25 years and I’ve never seen dolphins come into the harbor”. I feel like a dolphin whisperer this week! 

Day 12

Sometimes you come across a view so spectacular it leaves you short of vocabulary. Such is the panorama from Crescent Head lookout – high above the seaside village and the surfers who appear the size of ants. The deep blue ocean spreads before us from north to south and all the way to the horizon where it meets the sky – today crisp and clear and eternal.

Back at sea level the water is that annoying tea colour from the river which flows across the beach and into the waves taking children and adults alike in blow up floaties with it. We only have time for a quick dip and lunch before we head off for a three hour drive back south, leaving the north coast with all its vivid lushness behind us.

Day 13 

Chill day, beach day – sand and sea and surf. We start early, the pair of us “parentals” with an earlyish walk, coffee overlooking Nelson Bay and a swim in waters of aquamarine. Then it’s down to the beach, while the kids and Mike go out in a tinny to do some fishing and, accidentally, a spot dolphin gawking. Arabella sees them with her sharp eyes.

They are kind enough to fetch me for the dolphins and we manage to find them cavorting across the bay. It is just delightful, a thing of childlike awe, to see these gorgeous animals playing in front of you.

Fish and chips on the sea shore and a spot of snorkeling before evening drinks on the dunes at Anna Bay overlooking an incoming storm. This trip, even restricted as it was to NSW, is a reminder at just how spectacular Australia is. 

Day 14 

This is it. The final day of our rather epic NSW adventure. We’ve had rain and mud and waterfalls, sunshine and sunburn and dolphins. We’ve seen gorgeous rainforests and spectacular beaches, turquoise blue seas and swollen brown rivers and the corrugated slopes of wind blown sand dunes. Today we did relaxation. We swim in the icy rolling waves at (another) One Mile Beach and play a 5 hour complicated board game (that we nearly lost!).

Rounding off the trip with a chill day before back to work next week.

Tonight the Milky Way is visible in the sky and the kookaburras laughed as the day winds up. Life in Australia is a gift. A bountiful land we are grateful to call home and blessed to explore. 

Tell yourself a new story

Tell yourself a new story
One that does not begin with shame
Or the erroneous notion of being born broken
That your very existence is flawed
In need of redemption
Or that life is a rehearsal
In pursuit of eternal reward
A promise of future paradise
Bought with death and destruction
And the oppression of curiosity
 
Tell yourself a new story
Snatched from the tree of knowledge
Dripping with ripening fruit
Rich with possibility
 
A story that revels in the glorious
Imperfections of life’s experimental creations
That hints of the wonder of being alive
Here in this moment
 
Just for a moment
 
Shaped from the very matter of the universe
Filled with curiosity and second chances
And the capacity to contemplate
Art and music and love
And the whims of fate.
 
Tell yourself a story of insignificance
For indeed small you are

A momentary fragment of the universe
A tiny thread of life’s vibrant tapestry  
As inconsequential as a fruit fly
As influential as the wings of a butterfly
 
Particles of the universe
Arranged just so,
Perfectly, uniquely you
Intimately connected to everything
 
Alive
Awake
Aware
Curious
 
With the chance to explore
Discover
Feel the heartbeat of a lover
The cold brisk air on the slopes of a snow-covered mountain
The touch of sun on your upturned face
The touch of kindness
The thrill of desire
The ache of longing  
The warm embrace of love
 
A moment in which
To smile
To hope
To dream
To create
To listen
To learn
To love
To care
 
To spread the wings of your mind
And take flight
In the marvellously magical possibilities
Of conscious life.

Sharlene Zeederberg - July, 2020
Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash
 
 
 
 

The Silver Fox

The old silver fox laid down his head
Burrowed down and took one last breath
Before falling into an eternal slumber,
The peaceful sleep of the dead.

They gathered around his fallen form
And crying a river of tears, told his life stories  
Which fell like rain on to the place where he lay
Beneath the full moon
One Tuesday in June. 

And the earth turned still
Made its way, 
Its inexorable, ceaseless way
Around the sun
The circuit of life 
Tracing patterns of stars in the night sky  
Moving to the tempo of the seasons 

From the tear soaked ground 
Arose a tangle of verdant growth
A soft bed of grass
Bedecked with bright flowers  
Beneath the sprouting shoots of saplings
And the hum of honey bees

But every year in June
They gather by the light of the moon 
On the glistening beach where the silver fox used to prowl
With his rough growl and his big scarred heart
To remember him

They gather in the shadow of the trees
On the edge of the sea
Now thick and tall with age
Lush with the sound of birds 
Awake with the rustle of life

And they share new stories
Seeded in the past 
Connected in their beginnings
Now expanded, grown 
Stretched out in a myriad of glorious directions

Their laughter rings into the night
Reverberates amongst the trees
And deep in the woods
A wispy silver shadow
Slips through the night
Content with his legacy.
Sharlene Zeederberg, revised June 2020 - In memory of my father, Terry Weedman.

Hopelessness

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash
Prejudices rule the world
Black and White
Always fight
Arab versus Jew
And "we're better than you."
A little boy with big, brown eyes
His hands raised
Germans praised
The Korean girl screams
The American dreams
Humanity perverted
Hope deserted.
Hide your face in shame
Dreams in vein
An evil reign
Cry my child cry
For the love lost
In the deepening night
Oh god,
Where is the light?

(Sharlene Zeederberg, August, 1990)

The Rituals of our Remembering

In the shadow of Autumn
In the season that invites retreat
With red leaves shed like tears
To pool beneath
The ages old arms
Of ages old trees
We light a candle
 
We light a candle for you
Who loved the flickering promise
That dances in the flame’s orange-blue heart
 
We light a candle to remember you
And the long winding past of all the mothers who came before
Present in every cell of our children
And their ancestors to come
Connected across the seasoned rhythm of time
 
In the rituals of our remembering
We light a candle
A touchstone to the natural order of things
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
But for a moment
Bright, alight, full of life
Dancing against the inevitable darkness of the night

Sharlene Zeederberg, in memory of Jenny.
(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

The Roads we Travel

This is the road
The yellow brick road
The highway road
The speedy road
The road down which we run
Towards the mirage of some future self
The self we would become
 
This is the road
The barren road
The straight and narrow road
The road that leads us on
To the walled city of our ambition
To the place where we belong
 
This the road down which we march
With heavy hearts 
And a purposeful, determined air
Awareness fixed solidly on the horizon
And the promises lingering there
 
This is the road on which we gamble
Every breath of life
Eyes on the prize,
Desperate to arrive
To shout with triumphant decree
I am here
Let me in
I am here
Let my life begin
 
This is the road 
To the distant land of hopes and dreams
The land of tomorrow’s imaginings
 
Did you trip, did you fall?
Did you wonder at the emptiness of it all?
Or did you stop and hear nature call?
And in the silent stillness see
At last
The criss-crossed tracks
Of opportunity
Lightly pressed into the fabric of the universe
Inviting traces to unknown places
As faint as smoke
As revealing as curiosity
 
Did you suddenly awake to find
That is not the only road for your mind
That is not the only way
To traverse life
To move from yesterday to tomorrow
To deal with all her inbuilt joy and sorrow
 
There are other pathways to explore
Other ways to think and be and more
Other ways to find yourself
Not at the centre of it all
Not at the centre at all.
 
Here the narrow path
Turns sandy underfoot  
Washed fresh by the prana of the sea
The pulsing beginning of you and me
Eons older than our collective memory
 
There the steep incline to breathless mountain tops
That almost touch the sky
Reward the explorer with a vista
Full of galaxies that stretch beyond the breadth of human time
Yet fill the human eye
 
And here and there
And everywhere
The moss-covered lanes that stumble into the silence of forests
Where the whispers of ancient contemplation
Echo in your footsteps  
And every breath you take connects you
with the beginning and end of time,
And every breath taken in between
By every living thing
Of which you are merely one moment
In an endless stream

Sharlene Zeederberg - Covid Poems (2020)
 
 
 
 

Thought Rising

I am nebulous
A fistful of dreams
As wispy as air
Rising like steam
 
I am the salt
On a sea breeze
Cascading over rocks
With thunderous ease
 
I hover in the sound
of crickets at night
Linger in the palette  
of day’s ending light
 
I rise on the roar
of a lion newly sated
And rest in the soporific stupor
Of the recently mated
 
I am distraction, obsession,
blandness
Purpose, possession,
The seeds of madness
 
I am passion and boredom entangled
A stream of consciousness chaotically mangled
I am the focus that comes from a scream
And the hazy contemplation of last night’s dream
And laundry and bills and self-esteem
 
I am the tip, the edge, the whole
The all, the nothing
The gentle unfolds
Of tomorrow
 
I am the fuel that keeps
Curiosity burning
Anxiety curdling
Dreams unfurling
 
I am thought
Rising unbidden.
 

The Birds Still Sing

In the dappled shadows
Beneath the leaves of
Mangrove trees that breathe in
Sunlight and saltwater
I walk
And slow my breath
 
And in the stillness
Of that moment
Against the silver gleam of green
Grass shimmering 
Wet with morning dew
I hear the birds sing
 
A hundred different sounds fill the sky
Whistles and twitters
Warbles and chitters
A wondrous symphony
swoops and swirls
And falls like gentle rain
Onto my ears
Tuned away from chaotic fears
 
There is a rose
That captures my eye
A red blossom cupped to the sky
The gentle scent, I suppose,
Reminds me of the papery skin
Of my grandmother
On a farm
In the middle of long ago
With her pantry stocked for months on end
And a garden of vegetables to tend
And a shelf full of homemade biscuits
 
History is recorded in the past
But lived in the present
Or in the imagined days of tomorrow
But come back now, here to now
For the birds still sing
And the grass is still green
And red roses still turn their heads to the sun
And today’s script is yet to be written