It was the morning of the Full Moon. I woke up early and went outside. It was
still dark and the Moon hung over the horizon. Big. White. Round. Comforting. I
didnít know how long it would stay there and I wanted to spend some time alone
with it. Just me and the Moon.
The night before I had wanted to sleep outside but the mosquitoes were so bad
I had to go indoors. Itís hard to sleep on the night of the Full Moon, thereís
something about the light, the intensity, the brightness that keeps me awake or
gives me a restless nightís sleep. This Full Moon was no exception.
I quickly pulled on my running shoes, headed along the Elwood Canal to the
beach and straight towards the Moon. There was nothing between us. I sat and
watched the Moon for a while then ran along the beach.
The beach is different every day. It seems to change with the phases of the
Moon. Sometimes there are huge piles of seaweed washed up. At other times piles
of shells. I love running on the hard sand at the edge of the water, listening
to the gentle lapping of the waves, feeling the wind, collecting shells and
watching the cormorants swoop and dive. One of my favourite images is the
cormorants sitting on a sign which says: ĎDanger, No Divingí. Itís good
they canít read.
I moved to Elwood nine years ago. I wanted somewhere with a corner of open
space, not totally hemmed in by houses and fences. For fifteen years I had lived
at Warrandyte, in a tiny fairy-tale cottage on the banks of the Yarra River. It
is far from town and I suffered from the tyranny of distance and endless hours
of travel to and from work each day. So I moved closer to town, bought a bicycle
and planted a wonderful bush garden, a mini-version of the place I had left. I
pulled down the garage, dug up the concrete and turned it into a vegetable
But I still miss Warrandyte, the mist over the river and the early morning
carolling of magpies.
When they cut down the big gums at the local park to make way for the Grand
Prix car race circuit, a young magpie came and settled near me for a while. I
fed it for a couple of months until it grew up and moved away. Now I wonder if
the birds can find anywhere at all to nest. Or the possums. There are so few big
trees around here, except for the ubiquitous European plane tree that
surprisingly, to me, is sometimes home to the Crow.
In Native American culture the Crow is the bringer of magic, so I entice them
down to feed and talk to them. I really think they might be ravens but ravens
have blue eyes, at least the ones I know. These crows have yellow eyes. The kind
of bird that hangs around with witches. They donít stay long but make a lot of
noise when they land on the tin roof.
At night, if Iím lucky, I can hear the fruit bats shrieking raucously in a
neighbouring gum tree. Last week as I stood by the back door watching the stars,
I saw a shadow and heard the flap of wings as something large right past my
Every night I go out to look at the sky. Despite the city lights I can still
see my special stars - Alpha Centauri, Betelgeuse and Sirius. The Pleiades are
harder to see but when I do, I canít help but marvel that so many cultures,
all over the world, know them as the ĎSeven Sistersí. This is strange as I
can only ever see six.
Sometimes running makes me sad. On stormy winter days I find small fairy
penguins washed up on the sand. Usually I bury them in the bushes behind the
beach. The banded penguins I take home to phone in their number. Itís exciting
getting the report on where and when they were banded. From Phillip Island to
Port Phillip Bay is a long swim for a small bird.
Going running can also make me angry. When the beach is littered with rubbish
or I tune into the sounds of the city right behind me - the noise of huge trucks
grinding through the gears and the endless traffic along Beach Road.
This week the Moon stays with me as I run. Watching over me and over the
place where I live.
On my way home I pass two magpies dancing in the park. They drop a feather
for me. I plant it in the garden as the Moon fades away.