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For obvious reasons, this year I’ve been thinking a lot about how you can be here one day and gone the next. All your stories go with you, all the words you thought and said. All the places you went to, the experiences you had. All your love, your hopes, your frustrations and disappointments. Your big life, which, hopefully, you’ve lived well and loved living. All that goes with you when you go.

Often at the end of the year we ask ourselves where the time went: “The year’s flown by! How can it be December already? I can’t believe it!” But some years are different; you feel every day of every month as it ticks by. Some years a big life event sweeps in and lays waste to everything in its path. Sometimes you see the cyclone coming. I remember thinking in January, “So this is what the year will be about,” and knowing that I could do nothing to stop it.

It’s been a year of strong emotion and change, and it’s not over yet. The changes keep coming. The strong emotion rides in when you least expect it. Even this week I’ve wanted to burn bridges, really torch them, and walk away to start again. But, despite all that, there have been moments, small, quiet moments, that have led to a feeling of pure joy. Here are some of them from the last little while.

The soft chorus of small brown birds, high and sweet, before the dawn breaks.

A bowl of cherries eaten slowly at dawn, while outside the night moves quietly away and the day sidles in wearing a dress of palest grey.

A walk in the cork oak forest, late season snow in the wind but warm slivers of sunlight filtering through the branches.

Watching a friend glide along the pavement on his bike in the rain, one hand on the handlebars, the other holding an umbrella aloft to keep his peach-coloured shirt dry, no helmet on his head, big grin on his face, because he’s on his way to dance class.

The rain bird, unseen, real name unknown, who sings a mournful one-note song just before it rains. And he’s always right.

Rain. Rain on the roof. Rain on your face. Rain in the soil, right down to the roots. Rain. May we have more of it.

Slow yoga at home; no pushing, no striving, no comparing, just a quiet inward focus on the tight spots that need attention.

Watching and learning from a much-loved dog who’s lost a leg but shows only resilience, stoicism and an unreserved lust for life because—look, humans!—there’s so much to sniff and chase and point at no matter how many legs you’ve got.

The monster tomato plant growing in the courtyard with such vigour that I’m expecting tomatoes for Christmas, in complete contrast to last year’s tomato adventure.

A long, relaxed, chatty lunch with good friends and funny teenagers at a country pub.

A fat, scruffy white pony being led down the street by a man of the same description.

Making something; transforming a skein of wool from a tangle of red spaghetti into a pretty scarf.

Rereading a favourite book after 30 years and realising that you understand it so much more deeply now because you’ve lived it.

Dancing with my fellow tangueros three nights a week. Strangers only six weeks ago, now we step apart at the end of each dance and smile in amazement at the heartfelt connection. I had no idea that it was possible to fall in love with a dance.

Witnessing waterlily bedtime on the pond, petals folding up as the sun slides down the sky.

Tracking the rain curtain on the hills. As it drifts closer, a rainbow appears, brilliant, blazing, ephemeral. I blink and it’s gone.

See you next year.


PS The giant kewpie doll in the photo above has lived an interesting life. She was featured in the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. You can read about her here: https://collection.maas.museum/object/10743

She’s resided in the small town of Bungendore, outside the antique shop, for some years, but now she’s for sale! If you need a giant kewpie in your life, you can buy her here: https://villageantiquesbungendore.weebly.com/

I’d love to bring her home but my garden is very small and she’d block the light. Also, the residents association would vote me off the island.