*Soft smile, looks down. Looks at hands. Looks up. It’s quiet. She’s still smiling.*
I’m not quite sure what to say, dear friends. It’s past the goosey bed-time and so thoughts are winding down. And here I am in Albany, the Windy City, proving it today with full-body gusting at the top of the cliffs, the wind turbines merrily doing their thing and the streets swept with dancing eddies. Here is the southern terminus of the Bibbulmun Track and the end of this walk. Tomorrow in the very early morning I’ll jump on a bus and be back home by the evening.
These last three days, walking from Denmark, have come and gone in what feels like the blink of an eye. Yesterday I walked about 41km, got in to the hut at about 6:15 and there was just enough time to cook and eat my dinner and set up my bed before the sun went down and the mozzies started to swarm. That’s the time when I get into bed, one: because I’m knackered, two: to avoid being eaten alive. I slept with my head net on, and my hat, to stop the net from resting on my face. I have never been in the presence of so many mosquitoes I think – buzzing their little chorus just next to, but mercifully not touching, my face – sometimes so close I can feel the tiniest cool breeze from their wings. I can’t say I feel anything other than bother and irritation with the mozzies (and march flies too, for that matter), but I do have a sense that this is their home. And they’re just doing their thing. I’m ok with that. I do kill them mercilessly and
without remorse. I figure that’s just me doing my thing. I do have a mozzie-proof outfit, though, improvised and perfected over the last weeks. Underneath I’m wearing t-shirt and leggings, over the top my rain jacket (let’s see you bite me through that one, eh?) then hat and head net, and then my silk sleeping bag liner tied up over my shoulders while I’m all the way inside. And my thongs on my feet, through the silk bag. It’s an extremely comfortable and relieving costume against the biting insects, and from inside my suit I shuffle contentedly around the hut taking small steps. The mosquitoes hum patiently around me.
The day before yesterday I swam at Lowlands beach, only person there. Up to my thighs in the clear turquoise water while the waves lapped and surged and pulled at my legs, and my toes are worming their way down into the sand, and my shoulders are singing in the sun. I couldn’t move it was so perfect. I finally ducked in fully and was washed all over by the ocean, mild, fresh, cool and bubbling. When I opened my eyes and looked out underwater, I saw the most beautiful colour I ever saw, and it was wondrous and terrifying too because I knew I was looking all the way to the deep waters and even
Antarctica. All of that in bluey-green. And below just lovely white sand. I followed a little creek a ways inland and one of my favourite sights is the ripples on the surface of the water and the rippled surface of the creek bed. This creek bed was patterened with white and ochre and red and black sands and it looked like giant dragon scales and made me want to explore further. Did you know the world was like that? I didn’t.
Then, was it only this morning? No. Yesterday. I heard a thumping in the scrub near me and a smallish roo leaps out without the usual dignity and quiet, almost lazy power they have as they bound up the scrubby dunes. No, this one was tearing through, all out of kilter and nearly over-balancing he’s going so fast. He sees me but doesn’t adjust his trajectory and passes straight in front of me a few paces away. A couple of seconds later and another roo comes after, a female, this one I think. She stops in the clearing and looks at me. Then more thumping and tearing brush and the biggest, reddest male kangaroo I have ever seen jumps into view, all unveiled might and muscle and quivering nostrils. I don’t know if he stops because of me, but he does stop and after a twitchy look in the direction of the first, lopes back into the scrub, followed by the female. I’m stopped in my tracks, holding my breath.
And that’s me.