Tag Archives: swampen

There’s a poem at the end, in case this one bores ya. Skip ahead three spaces.

I deleted my tumblr, there’s way too many things going on, on that website for a person who has ridiculous internet A.D.D, like me.  There was really no hope for me to have a life outside of tumblr, or come up with that many interesting things to say in an afternoon.  I think I’ll stick to my fortnightly+ blog postings.  (Three cheers on my succeeding to use the world “fortnightly” in a blog, yes)!

So, today is the day I realize I only have 1.5 more days in Canberra and when crying becomes an activity I frequent on a daily basis.  I haven’t cried today, don’t worry, but I almost always cry when I leave a place I’ve lived for a while (even if that plays smells like cat pee like my old apartment apparently did, says my land lady.  But I do have a cat, and he does like to pee so she’s probably not far off).  This place has been a lot of fun.  There’s a heater that clicks (like a timer) when you turn it on and you have to shove your shoe in it, in order to make it stop with that horrible clicking noise so you can’t focus on anything else.  BAH!  My books are are nicely piled next to the bed, sometime tomorrow they will placed somewhere random on campus with a sign that says “free to good home” because there’s a really terrifying, Asian woman who runs the local library and I’m afraid to ask her if I can donate books.  It says nothing on their website, and to be fair I’m really bad at asking anyone..anything and so her terrifyingness, just helps to give me an excuse.  I returned my last two books (Larry Levis and Flannery, actually found a spelling mistake in the Levis book which was CRAZY since it was published by a pretty big publisher, AND all the first words of each line were capitalized because word automatically does that when you press enter, if you don’t write much poetry, you probably wouldn’t know that one, don’t feel bad, but it does.  And so they did Larry, not one, but two disservices with that one).   I have all my pictures and photos on my computer, I like to call it my virtual wall photos (since anyone who has been to my apartment knows I surround myself with the people I love…or don’t so much love, but they still look funny).  So, no need to take any pictures down.

It’s just a sad day.  There’s not much else to say about it.  I wish I could find a quote online about the sadness of moving houses or moving places but Chris’ internet is running out, and it literally will be non-existent tomorrow at 130pm, so don’t expect to talk to me for about four days since we’ll be in Kiama sunbathing, swimming in the bitter cold Pacific Ocean, playing tennis and sitting beneath a man-made waterfall.  Oh, and did I mention it’ll be my first time sleeping in a caravan – I’m excited! (and most of the time people will be like, oh it’s okay, there’s bright things ahead, well those people are wrong.  I already know Raleigh, I’ve lived there pretty much my entire life, I’m pretty positive there won’t be anything TOO exciting waiting for me on my return.  Other then my sweet nephew, the rest of my adorable family and my cat).

There have been a lot of memories tied to this little room.  Jono egging the window and me thinking it was gun shots.  Chris coming in to tell me about her boy crush who turned out to be useless like the rest of them.  Trying on every bathing suit in hopes that they will illicit a happy facial expression.  Listening to the ravens annoying call, and the bird fights in the Avatar tree.  Watching all the baby bunnies hopping around because it’s spring, and it’s mating season and this is the animal kingdom.  Watching Seinfeld before bed and singing the song to catdog.  Listening, as I’m read the sports column by the sportsguy, Bill Simmons, and laughing at all his wife’s tweets (sportsgal) about her takes on The Bachelor.  Trying desperately to find Teen Mom online anywhere but MTV, which doesn’t show online videos in this region. (lame, MTV, very lame).  Piling my library books next to the bed and waking up to them scattered all over the floor from me reading and throwing the night before.  Starting and finishing every major graduate school application I’m sending this year – praying and crying about getting in … or not.  The amount of hair that falls from my head in a six month period – seriously you don’t want to know, I’m like a hair ball – times 200 million for a cat.

And Canberra has been nice to me as well.  Other than the week it rained, the weather has been glorious, I even got a taste of Australian snow (it didn’t stick) but there’s a mountain right near me so I at least got to stick my tongue out and taste it all.  I got to see and hear the most amazing birds on the planet probably.  I met my favorite bird, well I have two.  First bird I ever attempted to write a poem about; purple swamphen, that nestles along the lake with it’s mate.  Bird that’s actually my favorite; Masked Lapwing.

Photo:

Masked Lapwing and baby

Masked Lapwing and baby

Masked Lapwing

I promise I didn’t know it was called a “Masked Lapwing” until I looked it up for this blog.  But I like this bird for many reasons.  One, it looks like a real life version of the villian/dad in Despicable Me.  Two, it has a body like a normal bird, feathers and all that, and then it has this plastic, yellow face.  Three, it has super long legs and sucks water out of the ground like an ant eater and therefore it’s both strange, and thrilling and I love it.  It also interacts with bunnies that are everywhere.

I saw a group of baby ducks while living in Canberra.  I got a taste of the Australian Sun, if you live in Australia your whole life and then you go to the US, I don’t even think you’d get burnt in the sun because the sun is like 29347 times stronger here.  And I know, I know, they have a chunk of ozone layer missing, but it’s seriously insane.   I can sit outside for ten minutes and I’m a roasted tomato.  I think I made a list of everything else I love about Canberra in my notebook when I was picnic-ing outside one day (without the food, but totally with shade, sun and blankets).

Okay, what I’ll miss about Canberra (from the vantage point of the park), written in brown marker and written during a no food picnic.

  1. The giant ant hills.  When you’re walking through the asphalt path just after the under-road tunnel (with its leaves stuck at the edges from being blown in all winter) and you come across a cluster of ants, maybe more than a cluster, more like a herd and they’re all working together to carry  a dead, giant insect, and then there’s the one lagging at the back who has his own luggage and is probably, in some dumb voice saying “Hey guys, look what I got, harhar,” but it’s a leaf and thus why he’s a big dumb one.  Let’s see if I can google a photo of how huge these ant hills really are.

So, the ones I see aren't THIS intense, but I'm sure that's just because people are walking by them everyday, killing off its tenants.2.

  1. (not one, but wordpress won’t let me put two here so blame them). All the trees in Australia are different.  It’s like living in the land the Lorax created after he moved from trufflelumps and wanted to open his own tree retirement village.  Obviously, there’s gum trees (for the koala’s, which I have never seen in the wild, so believe it when they say that they are a protected species), and there’s these really interesting looking burnt trees (which may just be young gum trees, I’m really not a tree expert).  Chris likes to say that these are the trees that disguised themselves as already burned, just encase there’s a forest fire, so it doesn’t hit them.  Gosh, we have some of the weirdest conversations, where’s Smokey when you need him?  I won’t look for a picture of this because I might be able to just go outside and take one at some point and post it later.  I just like the trees in Australia because when I’m home in Raleigh, everything is so anal.  It’s like every neighborhood decided on one specific tree, and one specific flower and that’s the only tree allowed in that neighborhood and if you try to plant some strange, giant bush with hair sprouting from it, Neighborhood Watch WILL get rid of you.  In Australia, they just plant a random assortment of trees, that grow fluff, that house rabbits, that grow prickles, that grow pink cucumber looking flowers, that are spikey, that are soft, that animals can eat.  And there all in like a three-foot radius just hanging out together.  It’s like Australia had no plan they just let the vegetation grow.  WILD AND FREE PEOPLE.  The US should get a lesson on this since we’re like the most manicured country in the world (or at least the world I’ve seen).
  2. How close you come to birds.  Now, Australia does have a problem with swooping birds (who will take a piece of your face with them if they think you’re too close to their babies) but most of the birds just flap right by you.  And if you haven’t heard the flap of a large bird wing, you’re missing out.
  3. There are these trees by the lake, that because of the breeze on the lake, all lean a certain way.  And not only that, but they literally shed fluff.  At first I thought there was a major bird fight, but no there’s trees that almost produce a cotton-like substance and it gets all in your hair and looks like snow and I love it.
  4. The one missing plank in the bridge, it’s not actually missing, it just sticks up and isn’t nailed in tight and I always manage to get it even if I’m searching it out not to step on it and it reminds you that you’re human and the whole worlds a little messed up too.
  5. The small, crappy, overheated library where I rent books.  Not only do they not have air conditioning, but it’s cramped in there and so the people are all in there using the libraries’ free wireless and everyone’s breathing through the heat and really heaving sometimes and so it gets stuffy and breath smelly. But, I’ve found some pretty stellar books in there, so I can’t really complain about it.
  6. Along with that, the stains that I love on all the books, that most often look like ear wax but I assume are coffee or chocolate or something really delicious they enjoyed while reading.  Never going to get that with an e-reader.
  7. The old men work out groups in the park, on the way to the grocery story and the library who are still wearing spandex after all these years.  I guess there comes a certain point in old age where you can wear whatever you please and no one is judging you.  I like it when they lay in the dirt and bicycle their legs in the air and pump their arms.  It’s like the equivalent of old women neighborhood walkers who super pump their arms while they speed walk.
  8. The awkward starfishness of my friend Holly just talking to people on the street by the shirts they wear and her grandma’s sweater that she always wears, I love that sweater, and I love her too : )
  9. Trivia Tuesday with Paige and Chris.  Even though we don’t ever win, we draw darn good pictures, get free juice boxes and donuts during the eat off and can come up with some pretty ridiculous answers when all else fails.  Plus, Chris useless knowledge always leads to a good time.  I swear she reads Encyclopedia’s in her free time.
  10. Obviously, the love I’ve felt in Canberra from both friends and, well I guess now, new family.  Water family, my blood family is in Raleigh, mostly.
  11. The way I feel after I’m productive on pushing the cart all the way back from the grocery store to my flat.  YES! Exercise from grocery shopping, who knew?
  12. The amount of Cadbury chocolate bars in the grocery store and the Darrel Lea – Rocky Road Chocolate, BAHH to die for. Australia might not have the amount of junk food that America has, but it makes up for it in chocolate levels.
  13. Again I’m sure I’ll write a blog of a million more things I’m missing when I get home to Raleigh, but these are mostly my favorite outdoor things about Canberra.

Just a teaser I guess?

It isn’t a news story that I have been dreading leaving for a while.  When I first arrived, I literally got off the plane,  got in the car and balled my eyes out about being in Australia.  (To be fair, I had been standing in the airport, by myself for 10 minutes worrying that they forgot about me and I was over tired and obviously stressed out).  I wanted to leave a few days later.  I was ready to go the second I got off the plane (I’ve been a homebody much of my life, this is why).  But I happen to love a real smooth talker who made my stay here and made everything totally worth the while, and made me realize that while you can call places home, people are home too.  People that you love and you feel safe with and that encompass everything good you feel in the world (even if they eat too much glutten and fart as soon as they wake up in the morning, and clean around you while you sit there typing up your obsessive blogs) they’re home.  And I will be at home anywhere in the world with this one. (Was that corny?  Because I meant every word.  I will move to Hong Kong and starve on rice and rice paddies, but I will be happy as long as the person/people I love are with me).

I thought I’d share something personal to send this one off before we leave for Kiama and you don’t hear from me for about four days.  I’ve been working my way through a series of this one poem about the Purple Swamphen in the lake near my house and it isn’t particularly good, honestly it’s not good at all.   And I’m not sure I’ll ever try and perfect it or turn it into a poem that it’s not.  I’ll probably never submit it anywhere and it will just be a sweet memory of some bad revising I did while I was here, and how I felt in the evenings and when I couldn’t sleep because the birds were still awake and so on.  This is the latest revision (it’s gone through about six…some typed, some splotched on whatever paper material I can find).

Purple Swamphen in Canberra (I should probably dedicate it to my sweet nephew).

This morning I lay awake thinking

of a Swamphen in Canberra.  His bamboo

toes spread about the muck and sewage.

The silent hum of a wall heater in my ears.  I watch

seconds puff from my chest and wonder if the

gawking noise of humans keeps him alert.

His songs bloom from the banks, burble like wind

chimes on an old-back deck, like my brothers.  Somewhere,

wood whines at the tread of my nephew.

He hides in the corners near the

cigarettes veiled by a grill lid.  His shoelaces untied,

slipping between the cracks of the porch slabs.

A female Swamphen slips down

stones to the water, pulsing her feet.

Her mate will caress her after collecting scraps.

The sensual feathers of his wings and neck,

and the blue of his arched throat.

My nephew waits behind the lawn chairs for his dad.

He hears the creak of the door in their historical

house, and blinks.  The only sound

he makes, at three, is the counting of his ten toes.


So, that’s that.  Don’t judge my poetry on this poem. It’s not one of my best, clearly, but it’s just one I wrote quickly down when I saw two things that reminded me of each other.  As you can see I’ve been missing my family something fierce and as soon as I return I’ll be missing my loved ones in Australia, and just the land, & trees and soft sounds of birds outside my window.  I hope everyone in the world can have something to miss tonight (yep, it’s going there, I don’t care, whip my hair).


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