Since the start of lockdown, I’ve been getting out for a walk at least once a day. Sometimes twice. On the way back I call into a local café and buy a takeaway coffee – skinny flat white 1 sugar extra hot. Then I go sit on a bench and look out over Port Philip Bay. 10 reflective minutes later I make my way back home.
That’s the short version
The longer version goes something like this: check the weather forecast and decide between 2 jumpers, coat and beanie + camera, or 1 hoodie, sleeveless jerkin and sunscreen + camera, or just a hoodie + camera? Which route shall I take? Left down Central or straight down to Ebden? Which café shall I buy my takeaway from today? – I try to buy from each of them so that each one gets supported equally. Black Drop has the best coffee but Gulay in United appreciates a cheery chat. Bob in Endo’s gets a go but he often only gives ¾ of a cup. Still, I try to be fair – they are all struggling to keep their businesses alive.
So many shops have ‘For Lease’ pasted on the window. Others are using this down-time to renovate or redevelop the inside of their shops. Some have stacks of correspondence piling up on their doormats inside. A Hairdresser has one of those clock dials on the front door that says ‘Gone to lunch – back in October’. The one I like best is in a café called The Colonel’s Son, it has a notice which says ‘ We hope you stay COVID negative, but while you’re in here, please stay positive’.
But my favourite café is run by Wang Zi Yong – it’s called Happy Jacques. He took the business over just before lockdown. We always chat. He always smiles. He never complains – well not in English, I’m sure he does in Mandarin – who could blame him. But he’s hanging in there and making the best of some very difficult circumstances. I’ve suggested he should change the name of his café to Happy Wang’s. He thinks that’s very funny. His young assistant, Fiona from Shanghai, until very recently was travelling from Sunshine to the shop – a trip of 2 hours each way on public transport. Last week she moved into a flat 5 mins walk away. She smiles a lot too and is a terrific barista. She says her Chinese name is too hard to say, and anyway she likes Fiona.
Then, with a cup in one hand and camera in the other, I make my way to one of the foreshore benches. Each bench offers a different perspective. Some of them have ‘In Memory’ plaques remembering ‘Daisy and Jack’ who loved to sit there decades ago. Sometimes they are all occupied ( the benches, not the perspectives) and I have to make do with sitting on the little blue stone wall opposite the Surf Life Saving Club. I don’t mind really. The view is just the same and it’s better for my posture. I often have company on the wall which is an added bonus. I took this photo on Wednesday of a more recent companion ( see below). I found myself wondering what it would be like having to stand or rest on one leg all the time. But then, even one-legged seagulls get to fly. On windy days it’s a genuine delight watching them simply lean into the wind and sweep and swoop and then just ‘hang’ there, about 6 ft above my head. Wings resisting just enough wind to let them hover and look around. Looking at me as if to say, ‘Aren’t I the lucky one – the one with the disability’. Then with a turn of the head, she’s gone.
And with that, I head home. You know, I can’t recall the last time I felt bored. I’ve always cherished the mundane: little ordinary things hold my attention and delight my spirit. The mundane is full of glorious moments if you take the time to sit with them.