Good Reading : Febuary 2009
last word walk this way FELICITY PULMAN tells gr about her daily walk: restorative, meditative and inspirational. now and there is a scent of rich honey on the wind. Fringing the trail, in parts, are cobblers pegs, thistles and other weedy sources of ‘wild food’ I collect for my granddaughters’ pet rabbits. There are also tins, bottles, plastic food containers and bags: I collect the rubbish and deposit it, and curse the barbarians. (I also work on my curses; they’re a source of great satisfaction to me.) I do not walk alone. A There are body-conscious joggers and yummy- mummies running with prams. Boofy blokes thunder s an author, the two questions I’m most frequently asked are: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ And, ‘How do you overcome writer’s block?’ The answer to both questions is: I go for a walk. Most days, weather permitting, I take a walk around our local oval, which borders on a national park and also has spectacular views across Sydney Harbour. But I only realised just how precious this time is and how much it means to me when a shattered foot kept me housebound for many months last year. I take care always to walk in a clockwise direction: my writer’s mind has a fantasy that if I walk widdershins I risk turning back time – and I’ve covered many happy kilometres dreaming of plots and possibilities if that should happen! That’s the best part of my walk: being able to let my mind run free. No mobile, no iPod, just a notebook and pencil. This is the time when knotty problems in plots and in real life tend to unravel, so that I go home energised and able to get going once more. My walk is accompanied by the whistle and crack of whipbirds and the melodious gurgles of magpies. A sign has recently gone up not to feed the birds but the magpies still congregate hopefully where, once, they used to 54 goodreading i FEBRUARY 2009 swarm over the vehicles of anyone providing scraps like a scene from the Hitchcock movie. The quails disappeared after a bushfire wiped out their habitat some years ago, but the red-browed firetails have come back at last. There are little flirty wagtails, croaking wattlebirds and punk-crested pigeons that fly off at my approach on rattling wings. Huge yellow-tailed black cockatoos visit sometimes, wailing like babies and attacking gnarled grey ‘banksia men’ with remarkable ferocity. My route is lined with the great golden candles of banksias, furry white flannel flowers and red splashes of wild fuchsia. The tick bushes are flowering past (from our local league team?) Retired couples step out in tandem, and I have witnessed a budding romance that began with a single woman who has now morphed into a hand-holding couple. On the oval itself are the dog- minders, poo-bags in hand and exercising an assorted collection of mutts. There are ball kickers, kite flyers and irritatingly noisy model plane flyers and, at the weekends, cricket- or footie-playing schoolboys: all potential characters for a story. Every day I pass the site of a memorial to a young man who died some years ago while car-surfing at the oval. There used to be messages written on the fence paling, and artefacts commemorating his life. For a time, and heartbreakingly, there was a teddy bear which, more than anything, brought home to me the terrible sadness of a life taken too early. My walk is not only for exercise. It is a meditation, it refreshes my spirit. It is a time of inspiration, a reconnection with nature and with my soul. And every day I give thanks that I can walk again. Felicity Pulman’s fourth book in the ‘Janna Mysteries’ series, Willows for Weeping is published by Random House, rrp $17.95.
December January 2009