I have long held the view, dear reader, that mechanical misadventure can have its advantages. The untimely failure this week of my motorised conveyance, insisted that I make use of the ‘road chief’ – my trusty, rusty, lusty bicycle.
And so out onto our beautiful streets went I . . .
And it always pleases me, dear reader, always ignites some sleeping sensation from back then – back when I was young and on my bike I rode the streets and lanes of my town.
The moment I’m away, rolling and gliding, the moment when the wind ruffles and fills my now luxuriant coiffure, I’m young again and there I am . . .
And the bike grants us access to places and feelings denied to us by the car and by bus. The bike sanctions the smells of the fields, accredits the sound of crickets in the grass, gives leave for us to pause a moment on our path and consider. The bike endorses memory . . .
So it was for me when out of leafy Lorn I pedalled and encountered the grassy levee that rings the riverside suburb, the levee that silently, faithfully guards us from our old friend, the river.
Up that turfy thing I climbed – our version of the mighty Pyrenees – out of the saddle, legs pumping, bouffant still tousled, and upon reaching the summit, spent and panting, I paused there for a poise.
And I love that view out over Scobie’s farm to Walka, to Oakhampton Heights, then to the gentle bloodless undulations of Rosebrook and Hillsborough beyond. I love the feeling of seeing the landscape open up, catching the breeze and smells of that rich soil.
There, on that rise I stood astride the ‘road chief’ and saw Marcellin Park off to the east along lovely Glenarvon Road. I remembered cadet parades and colour comp sport on hot Wednesday afternoons,
thought back to walkathons, the RoseFarm poplars, friends, and Largs – a place of salvation, the road I took to heal a grievous wound – back then . . .
And I could feel it all again, dear reader, under a sunny winter sky, I saw it all again.
Out there, on that tiny mound of earth, I could see back to town, see the lights of the sportsground stretching up through the trees, see Mt Sugarloaf in the background – and there’s the gaol, the big house, gone silent but still awful and stark on the hill.
Turning now to the north and the floodplain stretches out before me, soil so dark and rich, so magnificent – like it always is.
And there above it all, faintly, almost imperceptibly, runs the serpentine ridge along the horizon: tree cloaked, distant, unknown . . .
And I remember a long-gone camping trip to that frozen, undulating line, remember a fire and a friend – back then . . .
Then the road chief begins to shift under me, cajoling me to ride on, to feel more of the town – and it was down the dip and out onto the flatness of those beautiful trails – there to taste the sun, taste the warmth, taste the true flavour of the town.
And so it goes. Goodnight.