Strapped around my waist, my bag is packed with my water bottle, sun hat, house keys, and my music filled mobile phone. I’m adorned in my shorts and T-shirt, striding along Brushy Creek walking trail in Croydon. DANCIN’ DICK, an Irish jig, is headphoning into my ears, a metronome for my legs as they power me along to the fast tempo of the banjos and drums.
My walk has followed a recent downpour of rain, and the creek is still carrying away the remains of the torrent along it’s meandering pathway towards the Yarra River. In some places, waters form into mini-rapids, cascading over rocks, hastening their journey downstream; the grassy reeds have been brushed down flat against the muddy banks, telling the direction of the passing surge.
Where the waters widen, ducks are duck-diving; a white ibis perches upon a fallen tree, cleaning it’s long beak against one of it’s weathered limbs; and a magpie, not bothered by my presence, barely gets out of my way as it carries on foraging close to where I pass.
In the foreground of a blue sky, rise the many trees swaying gently in the breeze, a mass of bush seemingly left behind in suburban Croydon, it’s earthen floor a soft carpet of leafy discardments.
I smile a greeting to fellow walkers as we share our common pathway. A man walking his dog approaches me, and I am pleased to read his smile when I say, “Good morning to the both of you”. A woman turns a corner of the track coming my way, her eyes remain firmly downcast, I exist not, she has shut me out of any possible social exchange between two passing strangers.
I pass beneath busy Maroondah Highway, using the large storm drain as an underpass. I pick my way carefully between rocks and puddles, emerging intact on the other side, walking through the long grass of the now dry floodway, keeping an eye out for snakes – just in case.
Reaching my halfway point, I arrive at my walking cafe, order a latte, and sit outside to observe my world. I see a dad arrive with his basketballer son in need of replenishment; a young mum making some pertinent point to someone on her iPhone as she wheels her contented baby in a stroller towards her car; and a middle aged couple walk hand in hand, deep in conversation, a newspaper to share over their cafe breakfast.
I begin my return journey home, still beside my creek, perhaps listening this time to the music of Mozart, enjoying the accompanying warmth of the more awoken sun.
As my pedometer counts my steps, my heart counts my blessings, and my mind is refreshed, well prepared for the coming day.
A version of this piece was published in The Age on May 15, 2016.