When I travelled around Australia in 2003 my friends bought me a diary to write. I had three very different experiences in three Botanical Gardens so I thought I would dig out my diary and reminisce. Searching through my notes I realised I didn’t document them! The people, places and events that interested me then are definitely not what interests me now. I will have to write from memory.
My first Botanical Garden was in Sydney. I would often walk there from a flat I shared in Kings Cross. The flat had a rooftop pool which had great views of The Sydney Harbour Bridge, it was perfect for New Years Eve! One day I walked down to the gardens with my book to read, Tales of The City. I wandered under the trees with the huge fruit bats dangling down. Then I stopped in awe at this amazing large tree with the biggest fuchsia pink flowers I had ever seen. Damn, I hadn’t brought my camera! I sat nearby in the shade taking glimpses at these glorious flowers in between chapters. Then the following day armed with my camera I returned. It was hot, the temperature heading towards the forties, with lots of stops at water fountains I finally got to the place I had sat yesterday. I looked over to the tree as a huge wave of sadness washed over me.
The flowers were dead, some lying on the grass, some limply dangling from the branches. I had missed my opportunity to capture the beauty of this amazing tree. I wondered if anyone else had seen it yesterday and how long it had flowered for, but I never found out what it was called. Leave only foot prints and take only memories, well that was certainly true on this occasion.
My next Botanical Garden was Melbourne. I meandered around the footpaths my head in the clouds as usual taking in the huge green leaves, listening to the kookaburra’s cackling. All of a sudden I became aware of footsteps behind me that stopped and started when I did. I got to the pavilion and stopped quickly, turning around. I thought that this man who now stood a few feet away would walk straight past. However he didn’t walk past me, instead he walked straight up to me invading my space and tried to take my hand.
‘Lets go for a walk shall we?’ He asked in a very slurred Australian accent.
‘I don’t think so’ I replied
I shook him off stepping back, deliberately putting space between us as he gave me crooked grin. Although my heart was beating fast I kept my cool. I walked away with strong heavy steps, he called after me. Then proceeded to follow me for another ten minutes until I reached a crowded part of the gardens. A huge group of Asian tourists were feeding the black swans and I sat down near them, finally after a while he disappeared.
I fell in love with Darwin, its tropical weather, animals and people. The Botanical Gardens here were so beautiful and lush, the aroma intense. Again I would find a big old tree and lay or sit under it reading. On one occasion a huge goanna decided to join me, I was so relaxed I wasn’t worried. This Jurassic creature looked at home wandering slowly through the thick grass. I sat still and watched him, his tail lolling from side to side. Occasionally we would make eye contact and I wondered what he thought of this strange female who had invaded his territory. He shared his warm green space for an hour or so, until some noisy children came and scared us both away. I never saw him again even though I frequently went back to look for him.
It’s strange that some memories from so long ago are as clear as if they happened yesterday. Events that happened last week can seem as distant as the horizon. We can’t possibly document everything that happens in our lives. The importance changes, some emotions fade, all that matters is that we write it.
My book Sharks & Lovers is available to download here: