Equinox to solstice and the Time of Coronavirus

 

Winter solstice passed now in the South and on we plunge through darkened streets and before darkened horizons and on through corridors of uncertain minds and notes of uncertain hearts and high cirrus catches the early-to-set sun and with raised eyebrow I cast back to that first weekend of fear and of apprehension and of coronavirus-being-perhaps-in-our-midst and note that that foreboding fell around the Autumn equinox and so now the passage of a full one quarter of the Earth’s annual journey around the Sun has passed in this state which has brought calm and then passed to querulous agitation and then passed to politically and economically riven angst and at times back to calm.

 

Three months now home and now tonight with dusk I am out the Brunswick East door and onto the Brunswick East street and aware of the Brunswick East Primary School where the buds happily attended until leaving for high school now and aware that the primary school shut this day after a student this week tested positive to COVID-19.

 

Coronavirus is upon us. And on the street I think now of my two other pieces of writing published at the Almanac in this time. ‘Love in a time of coronavirus’ ran as a form of ideal truth before political ideology and myths of economy and division swept all before it. And in a review of Albert Camus’ The Plague I felt that for each of us, plague conditions perhaps do nothing but amplify our essential characters. And I warily gaze at the umbilical cord of www in my hand and it seems that the people of the world are well amplified.

 

Our local primary school now closed and thoughts of close contacts and of neighbours and of friends and of the immuno-compromised among us and thoughts of exposure and of harm and of duties of care and of responsibility and of balance and of risk and of when did I last see them? And did I wash my hands afterwards? And am I sure? And what if I’m not sure?

 

As I walk west the merest fingernail of moon hangs low in the north western sky. I wonder about that moon as a symbol of religion and also about that same moon hanging over all the world regardless of humans labouring on the surface of the Earth or resting or starving or warring on the face of the Earth and that moon hanging regardless of human stories or of human beliefs or of any idea concept thought of such a thing as human struggle.

 

I plug in and am surprised to unconsciously opt for comfort and in the gloom I am taken this night by U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree’. An album of stories and of memory and of past and of present and including latterly the 2019 concert and now including my 2020 lockdown backyard ukulele challenge in which I undertook to play and record one song of each of the eleven songs from the album per day for 11 days and to send the video of my attempt to friends and to then actually carry out the plan in this Time of Coronavirus and this night this very night being the first time I have listened to the songs since I gave them rudimentary backyard treatment.

 

And social media churns away and I buckle ever so gradually under the sheer weight of gossip and conjecture and opinion that passes for social glue on the www and step outside outside again again to again consider how certain are the baying mob and wonder whether our earlier ideas for organising humans and whether any of Capitalism or Communism or Fascism are really up to the job in this 21st century of pinging outrage.

 

Who do I believe?
Who?
Why? And I understand the ground being absolutely ripe perfect fertile for conspiracy theories and for fear-mongering and for unsubstantiated gossip in an age of stories and emotion.

 

Stillness is out there.
I know it. Feel it.

 

And calls of “footy’s back!” “Isn’t it great to have footy back?” and “Gee we really missed footy” and other tone deaf and hollow calls sounding completely out-of-step with society generally whose members seem to continue to grapple with life in the midst of an unfolding global health emergency and local sport still deemed unsafe and the local Under 15 netball team here still not given authorisation to train together and I feel in this darkened street that local footy and local netball and local cricket and local running basketball cycling tennis korfball are the real sport and the true sport and that top level-made-for-TV-sport belongs firmly in the spheres of gambling and of entertainment and local footy is not back and so of course footy is not back. Footy is not back. The Commerce of AFL is back. The Gossip of AFL is back. Footy is not back.

 

Opportunists.
Everywhere opportunists.

 

And totally without warning on a quiet Brunswick street on dusk as the edges of my vision blur and the wash of the moment rises and my ears host a rising refrain of ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ free tears spill down my cheeks in the gloom.
“And yes, I’m still running….”

 

I’m still running.
We are all still running.

 

Bins lie overturned in the bluestone gutter. Warily spaced oncoming pedestrians look down; each face illuminated by the ubiquitous glow of smartphone.

 

On Sydney Road a motor bike waits at a red light and when the green light flicks on the bike roars and both rider and bike burst forwards and the bike balances on only its rear wheel as together rider and bike they disappear into a near multi-coloured glare.

 

The Joshua Tree. What is that? Is it a security blanket?

 

High in the alcove of a shopfront a man reaches up to slide closed the bolt lock to his shop.

 

Outside another closed shopfront as a tram glides past and the fingernail moon glints above electric light a realisation strikes me that at this moment on this Earth I share this wee planet itself with the very members of U2 now singing across decades into my ears. They are not so far away, neither physically nor perhaps spiritually. We all sit under the snow dome. With Eddie Betts. And with Vladamir Putin. And with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And the rest of us. We are but players on a stage. Rats in a trap. Angels on a pin.

 

Down a quiet street of close horizon and of close shadow and ahead a woman furtively pauses at the doorway to her apartment block to tap in her entry code. It is proper dark now and I am sorry that she necessarily glances with fear in the direction of my footfall. A full-body wave of humility claims me as here I am at 192cm and wearing shorts and Blundstone boots and a beanie and headphones in the urban darkness and here she is much smaller and illuminated and vulnerable and quite understandably she sees me here now outside her home on an idle Wednesday evening as a clear and present danger to her very safety and possibly to her life itself.

 

And snatches of Archie Roach’s memoir Tell Me Why drift into view and out of reach as I pass a dimly lit park and with it hope and with it a spirit of soaring humanity and I hear voices from the shadows and now a brightly lit cyclist nearly collides with me on the footpath.

 

Swarms of riders on electric bikes wear face-masks and carry insulated bags around the suburb containing other people’s dinner. A ringtail possum scampers across the powerlines.

 

Close to home now and I feel close again to my small nuclear family and so close now that I feel an expansion in my chest and now a fresh tear of fear and another of hope tumbles free just as the final track called ‘Mothers of the disappeared’ clatters into my ears and along with everything else provides yet another perspective and yet another hearing of something new even after all these years.

 

So much distraction in this life under the Milky Way.
Under our little snow dome.

 

Round the corner I think of Andre who sits beneath the charred trunk an old eucalypt and he sighs.

 

I open the door and I step inside and before I can close the door again our dog steps lightly around the corner to meet me and she looks up at me and she takes three steps forward and two steps back and she tilts her head and she wags her tail and does so with such blind enthusiasm that she creates here a metronome of happiness as her tail thumps with each repeated strike of the washing machine. It is infectious. As a moment it is infectious. I bend down and rub her head. “Good Pip.”

 

I am home.

 

 

Mothers of the disappeared (U2) – here attempted by the author as part of a lockdown backyard ukulele challenge. You might see Pip’s tail go flashing past.

 

 

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About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Like you, I find walking the streets with headphones on listening to relevant and meaningful music while pondering the plight of the world can be an energising defining pursuit bringing about solace and generally, peace of mind. There’s a lot to be said for walking.

  2. E.regnans says

    G’day & thanks Col.
    I’m grateful for the chance to walk around quite a bit these days.
    And yes, music can offer something else. The words are just out of reach of me now. But yes, it’s possible that something shifts when in thrall to music. Maybe being in such a moment is, by definition, truly living in the moment.

    Walking in the rain (without headphones) has become one of my favourite things.

  3. Another beautiful, thoughtful, thought-provoking and intelligent piece of writing. These times of C19 have certainly enlightened me to my nuclear family, my wider community in which we live (good & bad!) and the world as a whole. Lessons learned!

  4. Thanks ER – for words, and song.

    Refreshingly, ukulele 11 lacks the ostentatious ego of most performances by big rock stars.

  5. Terrific ER. The umbilical cord of www. Great line. And a sad line. That could be the root of the problem.

    My old man used to warn us that “all this technology is rooted in evil”. We scoffed. He’s old. He just doesn’t understand it. Perhaps partly true. But perhaps not. We’re all connected but more and more are alone.

  6. John Milton says

    David
    Magnificent! “As I walk west the merest fingernail of moon hangs low in the north western sky.” Beautiful, evocative!
    Thank You

  7. E.regnans says

    Thank you Seona, JTH, Dips & J Milton.
    Thanks for leaving comment here.

    Today I read the following quote attributed to Rumi: “the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”

    Leaving the headphones at home today.
    Thanks again.

  8. Shane Reid says

    David, I’m knew to this almanac community and I wish life allowed me to read more. I’m always grateful to read your pieces. “A fresh tear of fear and another of hope tumbles free” – what a line in terms of where we at as a world at the moment, it wouldn’t be out of place in a Joshua Tree song. Thank you.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Really thoughtful piece ER.

    Particularly taken by the paragraph about walking past the woman entering her apartment block. Sad, but utterly understandable both of your reactions.

    U2 have been creeping more and more into my playlists of late.

  10. E.regnans says

    G’day Shane & Crackers.
    Thank you for leaving your comments.
    This is a terrific team to be a part of.

  11. Frank Taylor says

    Thanks Tall Man. Again.
    Simply marvelous.

  12. OBP thoughtful as always spot on the afl industry is back it’s a scary world all the best to everyone living in
    Victoria especially at this current time

  13. And now we reach the Spring Equinox.
    Still in stage 4 lockdown.
    Grateful.

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