The next chapter

I celebrated a major milestone birthday recently with an escape to the wilderness, thinking I would avoid attention and commune with nature in its purity. This was fine and I spent the momentous occasion trekking through 30 centimetre deep snow around beautiful Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. This area is actually listed as a world heritage place.

Since then I have been prodded and probed, scanned and screened to finally get a clean bill of health. I have new spectacles; have had a massage and facial, haircut and general tidy-up. I have a new job; have planned a new house for a new block of land in a new location. I have a new job and start work next week. I have sorted and packed up my house, thrown out the old stuff, and I leave my old life behind this weekend and start the next chapter of my life afresh. I have finally adjusted to being an “empty-nester” and proud that my three adult children are happy, independent, and confident living their own wonderful lives. Fortunately for me, the only thing I haven’t changed is my husband! And my family of course.

Fully realising that you take your Self with you wherever you go, I have worked on my psyche long and hard over the years and I am confident and happy with my place in the world and this life. But I try never to be ungrateful, complacent, nor take things for granted. Life continues to unfold in its mystery.

To my great delight I am still going to be working in libraries so this is not new, but the branches and people I meet will be. It is such a privilege to work in libraries.

I will endeavour to keep up this blog and my two other blogs: French Accent and Port Fairy House as I make the transition into this new landscape. Goodbye beautiful Mornington Peninsula.

Beach at Rosebud

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Here comes the sun

Beach Sunset 016

Photo by Ryan James Bentley 2009

Sunday with no plans so I went for a walk. I knew there would be cyclists on the main road taking part in the annual Around The Bay In A Day event. I had gone for my ride yesterday avoiding the crowds.  15,500 cyclists wearing colourful lycra pedalled their bikes in both directions looping 250 kilometres around Port Phillip Bay.

At Anthony’s Nose three large men in bulging lycra asked in their English accents if I would take their photo. With the silvery bay clad in morning light as a backdrop and the tall buildings of Melbourne peeking above the horizon as small black pegs (their destination) I took the picture of these jovial men. They told me they were from Sydney and came down each year especially for this event. Finding time to stop at a cafe for breakfast was a priority they said. I wish I had my phone with me so I could have taken a photo of them for myself.

Later in the day I drove to Mornington to see and hear a friend sing as part of the Two Bays Choir. The Annual Mornington Food and Wine Expo was in full swing when I arrived. The main street was closed to vehicles and instead filled with tent stalls where local wineries offered samples of their wine, and all sorts of food was being made and sold. A rock band played loudly at one end of the street and another at the other end. It was difficult to find my way through the crowds of people, children, dogs, and stalls. The cafes, restaurants and hotels were open for business and diners were eating and drinking, spilling out onto the footpaths.

Eventually finding the stage where the choir performed I sat and enjoyed their efforts despite the competing sounds from the rock bands and crowds of exuberant people. As I was about to leave a group of 14 people gathered and sat in a circle with bongo drums. A joyous rhythm of drumming began and a crowd gathered to lap up their sound and spirit.

I drove home along the beach road as the sun made its way to the western horizon. Boats were still out on the golden bay and people were fishing, skiing, or just motoring around. A barbeque dinner at home with family finished off a great day. Springtime in Melbourne heralds the arrival of longer days of sunshine and everyone gets out enjoying themselves in this glorious weather.

The Dog Beach

As I walked along the beach near my home enjoying my daily exercise on a beautiful morning, a big black dog walked straight at me staring me down. I’m not a dog-lover by nature and instinctively raised my arms to my chest to avoid being licked or sniffed by this dog I didn’t know. The owner of the dog declared as she followed her leash-free dog from some distance, “This is a Dog Beach!” Really! I thought this was still a public beach open to everyone including the dog-less folk.

dogs_on_beach“My beach” has truly gone to the dogs. Not only is it the nearest beach to my home, but in the long uninterrupted stretch of sand and perfect water from Mount Martha to Rye, I believe it is The Best Beach for sitting, contemplating, paddling, swimming, wandering and picnicking. Well it was until recently when some public servants in their “wisdom” declared this popular spot to be a leash-free zone for dogs. So inevitably it has been inundated.

Last summer we had quite a few very hot days in a row with temperatures in the mid 40’s (Celsius). Thousands of people flocked to the beaches looking for relief. And they brought along their poor panting dogs totally ignoring any signs stating times when dogs are actually allowed on the beaches in the long daylight-saving days and evenings. I felt sorry for the dogs in their furry coats but it was absolute pandemonium at the “dog beach”. Dogs were everywhere darting happily amongst the people. They swam, dug holes, chased seagulls, chased each other, chased balls and children, then cheerfully peed and pooed oblivious of the people relaxing on nearby towels. The dogs had a ball!

I feel I have been effectively ostracised from “my own beach”. Who made this decision? Obviously dog lovers! I have heard no public complaints aired about this. Am I in the minority yet again? The silent majority have successfully bullied their actions into being once again with no thought or consensus. I am not against dogs or leash-free zones, but why they gave this perfect spot to the dogs is beyond my comprehension.

I wonder if this is how the koalas feel. Or the aboriginal people of the past? Or the smokers of today? (I am not a smoker, or an aboriginie, or a koala!). I feel powerless and without voice in this matter. I am being pushed out and will have to find an alternative beach elsewhere.

There are no officers employed to police and enforce the dog visiting times. And so the times are ignored by many dog owners. As a leash-free zone for dogs at given times, it is now totally a Dog Beach: The Best Dog Beach for Dogs in the Southern Hemisphere. What spoilt happy mutts.winter_solstice

If this is all I have to complain about in my life then things are pretty great.