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June 19, 2003
The view of Elunbeth
Recently I took a tram to the far reaches of civilisation, and set off on a slow journey to parts unknown.
Well, maybe I'll clarify that. The tram took me to Wattle Park, in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and then I walked further east. It soon became clear that this area wasn't technically "parts unknown," because it looked a great deal like Box Hill South.
In fact, it was Box Hill South. But I was carrying a walking stick and wearing a pith helmet, so I kept pretending that I was the first person ever to explore its sacred, suburban footpaths. As Steve Martin said, what's important is the depth of your commitment. I had depth. I had commitment.
I walked through a park, along a creek, across a busy road. I walked through quiet streets, and then streets quieter still. I encountered several people, all of whom were walking dogs and staring at my helmet. I nodded in greeting and kept on.
Finally, I got to my destination: a house in the suburbs. The house where a woman of my acquaintance lives. She wasn't home, but she'd told me where to find the spare key. I remembered the first instruction, which was to go through the gate to the backyard, but not the other four instructions. As Steve Martin said, if you can't remember the other four instructions, find something else to do.
So I did that. I let the location of the spare key remain a mystery, and turned my attention elsewhere.
A backyard in Blackburn
It might seem that a suburban backyard would be the most boring place on earth, and this might well be true. But it had been so long since I'd been in one that the novelty value had returned. I stood on the verandah and looked out.
All I could see was a great big bunch of darkness, which swirled and rotated in patterns that I couldn't quite make out.
So I tried listening. More success there. I could hear the wind rustling through trees, and gentle rain falling on the roof. That, however, was it. No cars, no people, not much modern world.
For the first time in what seemed like years, I was outside. In a place with real darkness and real trees. It was all so different from where I live.
Fitzroy, it seems, is never entirely dark. There are streetlights and pubs and several kinds of traffic. All of them remain in operation throughout the night.
My own backyard is small, and covered with concrete. In several directions the view is blocked by The Terror From The North, the unstoppable vine from next door. In the other direction is a brick wall, good for those moments of Zen training when you need to stare at something boring until you decide to give up Zen training. The view upwards is a little restricted, but it still offers a view of the ever-changing Melbourne sky.
It's taken me a while to realise it, but perhaps the most interesting view is the one downwards. In the middle of the backyard is a drainpipe. On top of the drainpipe sit two bricks. These bricks serve a vital function. They block the only known entrance to the Elaborate Underworld Beneath.
So what I'm thinking is this: it's about time I ventured down there. I don't know what I'll find, and I don't know how dangerous it is. I can only hope it'll be more interesting than Box Hill South.Posted by Sean Hegarty at 02:59 AM in the Elunbeth category | Comments (1)
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