Wednesday, Katoomba, Overcast

Today does not promise to be especially interesting. My copy of Rising Tide Falling Star by Philip Hoare arrived today, and I managed to spill all of my morning coffee on the passenger side floor of the car, but otherwise it’s likely going to be a fairly uneventful work day. So I will write about yesterday again, at least the end of it when Miles and I took off for a stroll through Katoomba for the afternoon.

Our first stop was the train station for, naturally, a little trainspotting. On our way through the underground passage we came across a busker playing the violin. Miles has long been fascinated by the violin, but he seemed a little confronted by the performance at first. Perhaps it was the unexpected nature of it, or the echoey chamber where it was taking place, but he held on to my hand quite tightly for a while. Eventually he seemed to relax into it, enjoy it, and even happily agreed to hand over some coins at the end. Once we arrived on the platform we came across a man playing a Celtic harp. He wasn’t busking — just entertaining himself as he waited for his train — but it was a lovely thing to witness all the same. I noticed that he had a tattoo on his left arm, the same one that Bjork has on hers: Vegvísir – an Icelandic symbol which comes from a 17th century grimoire, designed to protect the bearer from becoming lost.

After the music, the trains, and the tattoos we found ourselves in an antique store hunting for old model cars. Most admired were the classic London buses in all their shades royal blue, forest green, and the classic red. It felt strange to be looking at these things behind glass cabinets, still in their original boxes and labelled with inflated price tags, with a little boy who would  love nothing more than to drive them with his hands across the ground.

From there we took in some urban bird spotting (mostly Pigeons, Indian Mynas, and House Sparrows) followed by some grocery shopping at the Co-Op, and eventually found ourselves in an overlooked little patch of land between the Cultural Centre, the looming Carrington Hotel, and the backs of some shops that line the main street. The best way to describe this area would be as a disused community garden. I have walked past it so many times now, wondering if it was in fact a community garden or not. I’m sure many people have. There are things growing but it’s mostly weeds and dried grass. The whole thing is fenced off but there are no signs indicating its use or ownership one way or the other. Entry wasn’t difficult at all. A small carpark at the back opens right into the garden but from the footpath a side gate opens easily. We wandered through the space, finding unripened pumpkins, bright yellow and orange marigolds, several varieties of chilies, cherry tomatoes freely crawling on the ground (in one case, strangely growing out of some broken concrete), and a few unidentified bulbs starting to appear in seemingly random spots. Despite its scrappy, unkempt landscaping, and the faraway fires that had filled the sky with smoke, it was a very peaceful place to be at that time. Miles kept very calm and quiet, occasionally picking a tomato or balancing on the various bricks and posts lining the garden beds.

Our solitude was eventually broken by a man with who told us that it was private property, although he was happy for us to stay a little longer, which we did. It seemed strange to me that someone would make a garden like this, in such a popular thoroughfare, in such a garden loving town, private. Yet another thing within arms reach that may as well be a million miles away.

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