Woman No. 1

A woman walked into the park with a plastic bag full of breadcrumbs. She stopped on the path and emptied all of it into a heap. Soon there was a crowd of pigeons, about 100 all fluttering and pecking over the pile of crumbs. The woman walked 20 metres from the spot and sat down on a park bench. She didn’t look at the pigeons. She didn’t noticeably derive any pleasure from coming to the park to feed the pigeons. She sat looking into the vague distance apparently oblivious to being in the park.

The closely packed group of very busy pigeons was beautiful to watch and she was missing it.

Why did she bring bread for the pigeons? Why did she come to the park? Was she satisfying an obligation?

Girl

A girl of about 7 or 8 years was walking with her mother. The mother was pushing a pram with a sleeping baby very slowly along the pathways in the park. The park is small so they went around and around. The girl held onto the handle of the pram and walked.

Didn’t she want to run?

Didn’t she want to play?

Didn’t she want to hide from her mother, to lurk behind trees and leap out and say “Boo!”

Didn’t she want her mother to time her as she ran to a distant tree and see if her time improved each time she ran the distance?

Maybe they were talking.

Woman No. 2

A woman came into the park. She didn’t smile. Later I saw she’d gone to a park bench. She was sitting there.

She didn’t come to the park to read, or knit, or meet a friend or even talk on her phone.

She just sat.

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Some lines ask to be followed, like the thick black line at the bottom of the swimming pool. Its so reassuringly adamant about showing me the way. Obediently I follow and even try to race it to the end of the lap. Its bold blackness tells I won’t win but I don’t mind.

Everything is okay, as long as no one else tries to swim in my lane, along my line. I have become as arrogant as my big black line.

Gravel – ice – gravel – ice – gravel –ice. In some places the gravel, frozen into the ice, is neatly suspended above more gravel. I’m good at walking on ice now. Weeks of practice and I no longer need to think about it, except when I come to a section of ice-free footpath. I rediscover the old style of walking and unlike ice walking I become fully aware of what I am doing.

This morning the gravelly, dirty, shitty ice was covered with a clean white coat of snow – wet snow, that showed up the hurrying footprints overlapping and gathering at the gate and pedestrian crossing. The lines of footprints and tracks left by pram wheels converged and created an endless sense of going.

As I walked I was one of many contributing to a very large drawing.

All the lovely clean white snow has gone. Now its all dirt, gravel, dog shit, dirty ice, dirty snow and footprints. But, as if to make up for it, the sky is big and bright. No clouds. So, instead of looking down at the ground as I walk I should turn my focus up to see the clean pale blue sky.

Every Sunday morning when I put on my swimmers some grains of North Curl Curl beach come off in my hands and I’m reminded of all those Sunday mornings swimming in the surf at North Curl Curl a year ago. The sand was coarse, the sky was big, the water fresh, blue and salty. We laughed a lot. Now every Sunday morning I pull on my one-piece in the changing room at the pool in Jüri, a small town not far from the north coast of Estonia. I go into the pool area and swim laps, looking out the large windows. Each time I turn to breath I see bright, white snow and children tobogganing.

Minus 19, now that’s cold!
Its alright if you keep moving and unless I buy a balaclava my nose and cheeks will still be exposed and those are the bits that really feel it. After a five minute walk from the bus stop to kindergarten O arrived with a bright red nose and little splotches of red on his cheeks. He looked very cute.
You have to remember not to wipe your runny nose on your mitten because it freezes and will be visible for all to see.
This morning I also discovered that the 23 bus that we catch to kindergarten is not the one to catch coming home. I ended up going in the wrong direction but before it took me too far I got off and hopped on a tram, which brought me to Vabaduse Square. From there I walked. If I’d just started walking all the way home from the kindergarten I would have arrived home sooner.

2 February, 2011

I have learned that you have to take short but quick steps over the ice. The most important thing is to move quickly, not look up and not stop. This is difficult if you need to cross the road and want to know if cars are coming. This morning I walked from the kindergarten to a busy bus stop where you never have to wait long for a bus or trolley bus. It took 15 minutes and the whole way was icy. Some places had been dusted with gravel but mostly it was lumpy, wet ice.

1 February, 2011
I was woken up some time in the early hours of this morning to the hollow thunderous sound of a snowplough scraping the street clean of what has now turned to solid ice. I suppose the snowplough comes along every morning, but so far it has been soft snow that needed to be quietly pushed onto the edge. It is possible that it was a tractor that was pushing the snow-cum-ice.