the glasshouse mountains






today is one of those days that makes me feel grateful to be in queensland. the sky is a crisp, clean blue ~ there is a benevolent sun that heats the slightly chilly morning air with a gentle warmth. i look at the sky and feel this chilly warm feeling, this australian vibe, and i travel back to mount isa in an instant. back to the winters of my childhood, which were a welcome relief from the relentless heat of the summers. i remember days like today that brought the rodeo and the mount isa show. days where we walked the arid hillsides behind our house with the dog. in my heart, all these experiences are framed by this warm crispness. it is the thing i miss when i am away……………this……………..”winter” vibe.

my brother (rob) and i have planned to drive up to the glasshouse mountains and do some walking today. for a few days now, i have been feeling the need to get out and stretch my legs and feel my feet on the ground. i can see in rob’s face that he has been feeling the same for quite some time. everyday life has complicated our communication, so i turn to nature, which provides us with a beautiful, free space to talk and have a bit of a laugh…… light…..i am so grateful for him, this little monkey, all grown up. to me, he is precious because when you have known someone since the day they were born and you have grown up together with a sense of camaraderie, despite the conflicts and tensions of family life, despite the differences, communication can be so easy, so whole. there is a well of history, common understandings and inside jokes that feed the conversation as we drive. we talk about what they call “current affairs” and i love listening to his perspective, which is always extremely critical and quite often different to mine. i rarely watch the news or read newspapers, and this is a person who immerses himself in that world. his lawyer’s mind can be so clear and cutting, in severe contrast to my (comparatively) floaty and idealistic perspectives. i love that contrast, sometimes i feed off it.

the drive out of the northern end of brisbane and towards the sunshine coast is nice. we move along gentle grey curves, out beyond the far periphery of brisbane, past the mcdonalds wastelands and into more open spaces where we find ourselves increasingly encased in green. sighhhhhhh……ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………..turning off the highway, it just gets better…. there are trees, lots of trees.

the plan is to walk up tibrogargan, but i am hesitant, mostly due to the fact that the government webpage shouts to me in large red, bold WARNING! words that people have died here from rockfalls……..hmmmmmmmm…..the webpage also informs me that there is a sheer rockface that has to be scaled……gulp……flashbacks to pichincha come thick and fast now. shit. i am not really in the mood for heart palpitations, not really interested in deconstructing my fears on this gorgeous winter’s day. i reluctantly decide to give it a go, but after 45 minutes, we reach the dodgy rock face, i get about half way up and decide that i simply don’t want to do it. rob is also doubting, so we pull the plug, go back down and do a 6 kilometre circuit walk around the base of the mountains instead. relief. i struggle with heights. i struggle with putting all my weight and confidence behind every footstep, trusting myself.

we walk, and talk…..and talk………….actually, for a change, i am the one who cannot stop talking! words seem to be pouring out non-stop and i observe a curious reversal, where i see myself reflected in all of those incessant talkers i got irritated with on the camino. ha! i love it when life flicks me back through time and places me on the other side – revealing all at just the right moment…

as i participate in our conversation, i feel that i am off somewhere in the distance listening. looking down, i see my feet are still moving, as are my arms. faithful heart beating, breath fueling. i look at all the eucalyptus trees around me…….alcolito…..and there is the lighthouse. he comes in and suddenly pierces my heart in the most delicious way, the sensation moving all the way down my core, all the way to the root……then, just as quickly, he is gone, and i am back into my feet, lightly crunching across the sandy track. birdsong and the occasional human voices off in the distance waft along beside us as we walk. there is a beautiful vibration here, emanating from the uniquely stark lushness of the bush. i look up, and i see a towering white eucalyptus, another lighthouse, standing tall as we come around a curve in the path. i pick a stone up from the ground and in it i place a secret thought before putting it at the base of this tree. i do this in honour of someone who is on the other side of the planet,  but who nevertheless accompanies me here. we keep walking and i try to feel the ground through the soles of my shoes…….we pause to inspect a number of different tree stumps that we find along the way. each time i deviate from the trodden path to approach a stump, i have to remind myself that i am in australia now and that it is quite possible that clumps of dry grass and leaves could be hiding a little surprise….say, in the form of a snake or a spider……………………

like the squiggly (ant?) lines we see zig zagging up the bark of the eucalyptus, we wind our way along until we get back to where we started. except now, we are not where we started. i am feeling lighter, more connected. my brother’s face is softer and i notice his laughter coming more easily now, ushered in by the lightness in his footsteps. we have left things behind in the bushland where we have just been walking. the excess has shifted down through the feet and been absorbed into the mother. words and worry, released into the air, are now floating upwards joining the other sounds of life on this track through the bush…….merging with the birdsong and the sounds of the wind in those tall trees………..becoming nothing, as if they never existed…..

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