I was trying to get a shot of these two gorgeous kids clowning around on the steps of the National Library of Australia when a small shape detached itself from Mike's leg, and hurtled towards me shrieking. "Watch out! Watch out, Mummy!" it sobbed, and so began my Year of the Monkey, with a terrified child trying to protect me from lion-shaped dangers.
We've been in Canberra for two months now, enough time to have dug in a herb garden and made plans for some container vegetable plots. Now that the rain has come down solidly for a week, the streets are green and quiet, not arid and dry and dusty as when we arrived here. Mike goes to work in the morning, Owen goes to daycare, and I tidy the kitchen and then get to work on the book.
I think I believed, when I set up this blog, that it would instill a discipline in me, and force me to work in the face of a crushing lack of creativity. The timestamp on this post and others should point to the failure there. Recently, though, my lack of engagement here has been because I've been writing like a fury; working on a series of essays that will hopefully come together to describe, loosely, my life over the past three years. It's exciting to have a deadline and a rationale for my daily life, given how disorienting the move has been. And, though tricky, lovely in a way to mine something from days that I felt wasted at the time.
The creative work is a blessing, and also a shield against loneliness. Our life here is very quiet, in a way that I am still adjusting to. We live in an old Navy house in one of the leafier suburbs, with a mountain on one side and a small set of shops on the other. Mike runs on the mountain and flocks of galahs streak out in the face of small mobs of Eastern Grey kangaroos. Used to living squashed up against the thick of it, I find the stillness of the suburb at night both soothing and a little eerie.
Today I did and do feel homesick, and I doubt that there will be a New Year in Canberra where I don't long for the streets of Footscray. I think of the pots of marigolds that must be dotting shop doorways, and the lucky bamboos sold cheap at the odds-and-ends stores. I miss the noise and the colour and the feeling of being pressed between a thousand resolutions. But it's comforting to know that wherever we are, the same patterns of the year will play out, unspooling goats into monkeys into roosters into dogs. And hopefully next time the lion won't cause so many tears.