Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Quote of the Day

I walk this exact route through my suburb of Flemington every morning. It's not beautiful or meaningful to anyone but me.

I barge out my front gate, under plane trees in which magpies sometimes warble. I cross the railway bridge, turn east at the house with the huge fig tree, then north again, past the brick garage and its inexplicably prolific gardenia bush. Nothing much to report till I reach the witch's house with the iron lace veranda and the hedge of dark pink rose bushes that no one's pruned for years. Every day I think their disgraceful neglect of those roses entitles me to pinch some on the way back. But I know I won't because my walk is a circle and I won't pass them again till tomorrow.

I cut through the booze warehouse car park and dash across the big road to the Bikram yoga school, then dive into the street with the weird antique shop on the corner. Good houses in a row, Californian bungalows. Here, where the street drops downhill to the hockey fields and the concreted creek bed, I once saw a fox go strolling home at dawn. Another day a horrible man cursed me out and kicked my dog in the ribs.

Where the shared pedestrian and cycle track runs alongside the freeway wall I turn south again and pick up speed. Riders heading for the city zoom up behind me with sharp little warning chimes, and gusts of air as they pass. I'm breathing hard and feeling powerful. Here comes the old Chinese couple, the dead-faced woman and the husband with his desperate smile. A tradesman in hi-vis stands in the middle of the football oval, reaches for the sky and bows three times.

At the primary school I turn right and tackle the steepest hill. Halfway up, panting, nearly home, I cop the first lemony whiffs of my reward: pittosporum blossom. Its perfume floats between the houses from an invisible tree.

If I can scoop up that McDonald's rubbish from the playground gate and shove it into the bin without breaking stride, I'll have earned myself a lucky day. All this, with its seasonal variations, takes up 40 minutes of what remains of my life, in my undistinguished and beloved Melbourne suburb.

—Helen Garner, Forty Minutes for the Remains of My Life, in Globetrotting: Writers Walk the World

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