Dusty foot shuffle

I walk, feet bare to the sun, dust clinging to my cracked scaly heals. Thong (also known as a flipflop) clad feet, rubber soles, click clacking, gripping, rarely tripping, a thin barrier but not barring my feet from the jagged stone paths or hard concrete street.

I walk easily in these clumsy clod hopping, trip hazards. Smooth and un-wounded.

My old thongs battered and worn; torn and ripped by the grip of metallic bike peddles. They have lasted a while, walked a few miles and clung devotedly my dusty feet. Scuffed and ground by my cracked heals, lifted lightly by my toes and placed firmly and deliberately along varied paths by my dreamers mind as it sometimes glides but often stumbles in and out of adventure and the mundane ritual of a daily commute. Always the sureness of the ball of my foot directs the rubber sole. Senses never disengaged.

 These old thongs have become attuned to my step. A decent thong is not just a combination of good materials or manufacture, actually a thong by definition rarely even possesses either of these qualities. A thong is usually constructed of the cheapest least reliable materials and I am dubious about the skill level of the cobblers who makes them. A good thong is a matter of fine tuning the senses and curing the substance. The thong and it’s wearer must meld to each other… bend and be changed until a symbiosis is established. To walk in thongs is more like walking in bare feet you have to read the ground, perceive the path before you lay your foot upon it. Know where the glass or prickles are that will easily pass through the flimsy foam surface that supports you.  It is possible that the thongs durability is refined by the amount of compressing it endures before you expose it to really rough or sharp surfaces.

A good thong is sturdy enough for the average bush track and will carry me across scorching concrete or bitumen, but becomes imperceptible to the senses in most other ways. Allows me to feel the surface I am walking on but dulls it’s harshest assaults.

Sometimes I scuff the heels of my thongs when I’m dragging my feet… Sometimes my step is lazy and I bend the toe when I’m weary and don’t bother to lift my feet…  Sometimes a thong can trip me when I’m lazy.

The old thongs fit to me like a skin, my feet and the rubber in time, sliding perfectly from one step to the next. Rising and falling as one… gripping any surface, delicately balanced from toes grip to the rise and fall of my heel.

Each step, every turn, the toe grips in sync with the ball of my foot, heal catches the rubber as they glide gracefully to the ground in union and the next step rises to find it’s place along the path.

The old ones stay sure. They rest neatly on the smooth peddles of my bike, they have been firmed by walking and resist the friction that causes a new thong to rip…  But they need a smooth peddle. No thong seems to last on hard peddles. And so I have destroyed my old pair of thongs and replaced them with a new pair which I have to break in…

New thongs are stiff but tear easily… That’s all I have to say about thongs… Today.

Lift Um Foot

Today’s musing and over the weeks leading into this…

Photo by Sophie Mitchell

Before the forced shutdown, the current lockdown, class showdown

This time now…. there is the age of rabbits in holes and polecats up pipes, too fast moving the lightspeed life

Back in the business as usual time and everyone running full steam, red line dreaming

Sunshining days, rich northern skies, open roads, soft borders, traveling orders

Aged invaders, crusaders, victimless crimes, the entitled reward of middle class lives

Dragging a cargo culture across invisible lines of songs sung eternal

Live aboard trailers with inside showers, portable toilets and speed, haste

4 wheel drive mutika shiny paint and big tyres, food voucher pensions and sundowners, the bright green grass rest stops on red dune sands. Clean rigs and satellite flat screen gigs

A time before virus escaped the cordon of minor obstacles to breach our haste and stop our trails…

Hold up fellas, something happened… We gotta stop… Finally we stop. Lift Um Foot take a look… It’s not a race bra!

So at my job I’m in the difficult position of working between cultures in a space that lacks self awareness populated with people without law without reason or art. Dialogue is often a series of misunderstandings, misrepresentation and misuse of power. During any number of the conversations I have heard consistantly the Yolngu words, “Bulna bulna, Yaka bundi bundi!” Go slowly not fast. And in the confusion and haste to force decisions those in charge might interpret the words to mean, ‘Please speak slowly, I don’t understand your words’. Yes this is true. But it means so much more than that! What people are saying is, Slow the Fuck down man! Stop pushing us! We need time to consider our options and listen to our hearts! Don’t force this decision! We don’t know the full consequences of our decision or who they will affect! “Bulna bulna!”

So I’d been contemplating the situation for quite a long time… Months… Years…. And as I was scrolling through facebook I saw the image above and it stopped me in my tracks. “Lift Um Foot”. It didn’t just speak to me, It sang! This phrase resonated with me so strongly I have been thinking about it all week.

The image itself is the quintessential outback Australian Road, the language unmistakable Australian Kriol! The philosophy PERFECT in it’s delivery, the sound of the words on the soul, the effect of the instruction in action. You don’t have to do anything big… just lift that foot off the accelerator. I invite you to read the transcript below, listen to Bindi’s Ted Talk and consider the implications of Lift Um Foot as a philosophy for meeting others, the earth, daily situations and ultimately your true self in the space that does not require an unavoidable collision. Just Lift Um Foot Bro!

You’re driving your car on a long straight flat dirt road through the low scrub. You’re going about 95kph, and you might like to go slower, not being in a hurry, enjoying the journey, perhaps struck by the open blue sky and the open red country and wanting to take it in some more, but the corrugations in the road were formed by vehicles going about 95kph, and they’re not too bad if you go 95kph, but they shudder the car unbearably at lower speeds. You’re the only car on the road that sees three cars a day, and your rear-vision mirror has nothing but dust. Suddenly, you see something standing up by the road ahead. It’s a forty-four-gallon drum, battered, rusted, painted, with some words, and you read them: LIFT UM FOOT.Lift um foot. This is Aboriginal Land. Aboriginal people use this road, and this is their Kriol, their lingua franca, and we would translate it as ‘LIFT YOUR FOOT’. Lift your foot off the accelerator. Slow down. Slow down or you will crash, they are telling you. And you pick out the axle and wheel-hub of the car that didn’t slow down, that crashed in the washout ahead, jutting from the drum like a flagpole and flag. Lift um foot. I put it to you. Lift um foot. Lift your foot off the accelerator or you will crash.” (Transcript of Bindi Isis Ted Talk 2011)

Delighting in colours

Having recently read a post on one of my favourite blogs I was inspired to consider the effect of colour on my life. That incredible elevation of spirit at the sight of a crystal clear sea reflecting the light of the sky diffusing blue across the spectrum of sea and sky, the lush greens of the tropical wet seasons, the red ochre and yellows produced by certain roots to create pigments that colour those beautiful woven baskets and dillibags.

The blog post I was reading referred to the colour blue. And the extraordinary efforts and experience required to create a lasting pigment that could be applied to surfaces and leave an enduring impression of the magnificent hue.

A couple of years ago I was introduced to a flower that produces the most vivid blue when added to warm water. Though the colour does not hold like a paint, it can create a wonderful effect in drinks. The flower Cliroria ternatea has been used as a food die in India and applied to rice on special occasions.

The flower is supposed to increase fertility in women.

This weekend we had a party for my flat mate so I went out to some local bushland where the plant grows wild.

We used the edible flowers to decorate deserts and colour drinks. Below are some images of the flower diluted in warm water. The variation in colour is the result of acidic licuid such as lemon or lime.

Blessed

Here again
A desk, an office, a mystery nobody asked

A place between nowhere or way

What was and could never be

A Day! This day?

Honour the covenant,  Hold the fort prolong the mission, 

Dilute the word and kill the song

Work for middle men all day long

Gate keepers, paths, defused truth

Flower petals and cigarette ash

The Mark missed in a flurry of KPIs and Derivative misery

Propagator of dream – whisper delusion 

Chained in obligation – fear and false duty

A toxic station

Trapped in bureaucratic impunity! 

A life leaves bed sores on the brain and on the ass!

Gratefully I return daily A place to go, a thing to do, someone to be!

Blissfully I sleep in my cell obliviously

Wake at dawn it’s Monday again on a Tuesday!
Happy Monday

(It was another day of the week… what difference at all?)

Through Balanda Eyes

Well this isn’t my post about life as a non indigenous dilettante living on Larrakia land in the Northern Territory… No you’ll have to Wait for that enlightened piece of politically incorrect reflection to emerge…

The title for this post is the name of my blogger page where all my other stuff is kept. I haven’t written anything there since I was convinced to shift to WordPress… Nearly a year ago. I figured I’d share the link here so it doesn’t get completely forgot!

https://balandaeyes.blogspot.com/

Waiting on the thunder

I woke this morning after a weird out of sync weekend, and I just couldn’t adjust to this time or space.

So many particles of various lives collided over the course of three days. Obligations, activities, people, places, things that needed to be done (or at least I thought they did). No time to be, me. What particles of this event between waking and sleep actually ‘is’ me? I?

Amid all the miss-adventure I managed to ride in the rain with a friend.

We watched an enormous storm cloud engulf the coast, felt the rush of wind, sensed the darkening sky, there was a light show at the centre of it all and before it, a clear blue sky! We watched the lights and waited O the thunder! We cycled along the edge, between hell and Highwater electrified and ecstatic. We howled and yelped as the rain came down. Blessed in the soaking delight of tropical rain.

Running the gauntlet

It was a long shot to travel so far. I desired the experience of a meandering journey through the desert. Time to think, time to release, a chance to be cleansed…

Time was not on my side. I’d just missed a couple of potential obstacles that could have prevented me from travelling at all. By mere hours.

Unfortunately, due to the impending covid restrictions, I needed to get across the NT border and back to Darwin before more sites are identified as Covid Hotspots. I hit the road.

Monster in a lake of salt
No floater
They buzz the road
Potshots fly hazardous
Sleeping on the lawn
Blow
Refuge from Sun and rain
Water in the ruts
When it rains
The Rock lives, breathes and bathes
Rainbow cliffs… Maybe something
Too many chipped stone blades
None shall pass
Karlu Karlu

Sweet promise of mobility

During the modern era of pandemic and disease the healthy ones, the lucky ones don’t know how close we are to the poison edge of a virulent disease.

We long to travel like in the old days when countries and state borders had become little more than lines on a page.

At this time last month I started my journey, flying to my family in the south, visiting the apple Isle, stopping over in the city of churches and driving gallantly across borders with the net of possible quarantine closing around me quickly.

Only a fool with unearned privilege would think it ok to attempt such an ambitious crossing of borders. I took, the chance and made it through.

Saw family and friends, covered distances that have once again been relegated to unnecessarily far. What a joy it is to come and go. To Roll.

Some photos.

Safety first
The matriarch
Insect house
Many food plants
Quince
Wild blackberry
Blackberry syrup
Home grown strawberry jam
Museum of poop
50 year old White Cedar
Flooded road
Stone blade

Cobwebs

There has been no reason for my absence from this space. It would have served me well to write. Instead I submitted to the demons in my head and black dog visited me each night in my bed. Grim days of despair and fitful rage eventually I was brought a little closer to truth, to reason to happiness…? I suppose.

When once again I surrendered and cried. Enough!

So from the delights of morning rides to the madness of my office chamber, sleepless nights, angry and confusing days. 2020 was quite a turbulent year.

It’s funny though, how all things pass. Whatever it was that drove me mad on a previous day, or week or for months without relent suddenly are past and today is, another day.

A different day… Oh what a day. When I shaved off my beard and shaved off my hair, I caught a look at the busted-arse man in the mirror, hah I smiled… What drift was I supposed to catch? What way to find or message to get. What did I learn?

There are cobwebs in my ears and dust in my eyes. But even in agitation… beauty emerges triumphant, a kiss on the forehead for an aching mind. Stone ballast of my soul, righter of ways.

Here’s a few photos, in no particular order for no particular reason except that they were and I was and we yet remain for this breath in time.

Female Crimson Finch – Nesting on our balcony! (I noticed a pair of birds hanging around so put up a finch nest. They moved in straight away!
The Wild Rice carvings by Mitsuaki Tanabe (A tribute to the native grain)
Extreme Low Tides in Darwin reveal coral reef
Coral Reef Exposed at low tide… (Possibly some bleaching)
View from a friend’s balcony where I happen to be living ATM
Sunset at Nightcliff Jetty (again)

Just milling around Darwin Town

It’s July… the middle of the dry season in Darwin… borders were closed for a few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic… We had zero cases for several weeks. This is the height of the tourist season but Darwin was quiet… all large scale public events had been cancelled. We had the place to ourselves, it was nice. I quite like the peace and quiet.

I have been house sitting at a lovely place with a garden, life has been sweet and slow.

fbt
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