The View From Here

2014-03-06 09.26.12

My courtyard is tiny, but I think I’ve told you that before.

Despite the limiting view of the walled space, the pocket handkerchief piece of sky above, it still seems expansive somehow. Why?

I have written before about my awe of the big skies in outback, Australia. Vaulting domes of deep blue, vast and glittering ribbons of Milky Way. Such skies give me a reference point, a bearing in the greater scheme of things. They remind me how small I am. And yet, how connected.

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This morning at breakfast with friends, we spoke of travel. My friends are inveterate travellers. I love their stories. I mused on the different reasons we have for travelling.

For some it’s a compulsion. A thirst to satiate curiosity about the world, intensified as our three score and ten approaches.  Or sometimes people travel to reunite with geographically remote family. For others, it seems motivated by FOMO (fear of missing out). And for others again, it is driven by status, to be able to list the places they’ve been.

Hard to imagine, but I have known of well-travelled people who remained unchanged by exposure to different environments and diverse cultures, to alternatives ways of living and being human. But then, should moving from one luxury venue to another, presented with sanitized versions of a place be thought of as tourism rather than travel?

I have been watching a common fish-bone fern (ephrolepis cordifolia) travel over an ugly retaining wall by my gate. I didn’t plant it. An opportunistic variety, it has found the location conducive to its flourishing and decided to take root. I hope it eventually covers the entire wall.

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Like the fern, I seem prone to rambling this morning, my thoughts travelling over new ground. To return to the subject of views, expansive and otherwise, my point is that ‘space’ is between your ears, all in your head. A tiny space can be a haven or a cell hell. A large one, mind expanding or intimidating. Whatever, and wherever you choose it to be.

When I am fortunate enough to travel, I’m grateful for a mindset that takes me farther in my imagination. When I take in the view of my tiny courtyard, the lack of wide vistas does not limit my vision. Either way, like the travelling fish fern, I work hard at flourishing, because that’s the way I choose to view the view I have

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” -Henry Miller

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41 responses to “The View From Here

  1. Your garden does look large. Probably because there’s no definite end. My garden is clearly delineated by walls, but it’s hard to see where yours ends and that’s a journey in itself.

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  2. Loved reading this, I dream of a garden, no matter how small. This weekend we are planning on redoing our balcony, hopefully we can get it looking green! A small garden with many plants in it can create its own little world, with so much to look at, admire and explore 😊 Also loved your travel ponderings.

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  3. Your courtyard looks lovely and so full of things to see. It has a very tranquil look about it. As for travelling, I once had that thirst to satiate curiosity about the world, but now as I head towards the three score plus ten, I feel more content about where I am now. My curiosity can be dealt with by visiting blogging friends who take me to all sorts of places (even their own gardens 🙂 ) And I love it when plants decide on their own destiny. Just wish the ones I want to land on my wall would, instead of those I’d prefer didn’t!!

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    • Thanks Jude. It’s interesting how we change as we age. Contentment with where we’re at seems more easily reached, less defended. ‘Weeds’ keep gardening a challenge I guess, but my growing tolerance helps to deal with that too.

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  4. Nice post, Robyn. I love the way the Fern has found its way through all the crevices. I enjoy travel, but also really appreciate being able to stay at home for most of the year. I think I’ve seen most places on my Bucket List, and now mostly travel to visit family in far-flung places. Air travel has become much less enjoyable as I get older. Your sky photo is gorgeous.

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    • Plants never cease to amaze me. The fern overcame obstacles to be where it would do best. A lesson for me there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on travel. I guess we’re fortunate in the Western world to have connections through the internet and ability to travel the globe in that media if we choose. Comfortable. Who knows in years to come if holographic and sensory stimulation will give us the whole experience in some virtual reality sense. I hope I’m around to see.

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  5. I love travelling by bicycle because it helps to connect with people. Off to Europe mainland in a few weeks without any special place to head for. An adventure will find is I think. Fast approaching 3 score and 10 so glad to be able to still do it.

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  6. I have a friend from school days (imagine!) who travels a lot. Every now and then he calls from far away. Instead of telling about his adventures he usually firstbasks, “Where are you and what are you doing ?” My answer is often the same: “I’m sitting here on my back porch looking out.” I think he keeps hoping for a different answer. He tells me that I should be doing things, going places, seeing people. I say, “I am. Just not right now” Then I explain about priorities, and we argue, then end up laughing together. (I’m telling you this, Robyn, because you wrote: “I have been watching a common fish-bone fern travel over an ugly retaining wall by my gate.”  That’s one of the best short poems I have read in a long time,)

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    • Firstly, how wonderful to have kept in touch with a long time friend, Albert. Thanks for the kind words re the fishbone fern line. I guess the point is, I don’t need to be rushing about. My mind is unexplored territory. Never before have I had the luxury to sit and contemplate for as long as I want and it absolutely fascinates me. I found in my research (many years ago) with older people, inner life became much more important to many of them. I like that. It’s like traversing vast and unexplored country, but in my mind, encountering wondrous ideas and things not noticed before in the busyness of life. So while you may not appear to be doing much other than gazing at the horizon, you are in fact off on some wonderful adventure.

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      • Yes, they do complement each other, horizons and ferns. You have it right, Robyn. The one group stirs the imagination toward dreaming; the other, and all close-up things, are good for the spirit, for wondering. Then of course there are memories–the delight of all ages.

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  7. How beautifully you tied together through different examples this idea of how we bring our own world to the way we see life. The scope for curiosity is endless, whether we are wandering far-off lands or examining a “pocket handkerchief piece of sky” in our own back yard.

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  8. Lovely post. I’ve just planted the seeds for my garden (just in time for a thunderstorm). I’ve always thought gardens are inspiring.

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    • And you would be most welcome! I welcome all visitors, green and otherwise. I’ve had some surprising migrants over the years. Plants are definitely opportunistic transporting themselves to new digs if they suit better.

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  9. Your garden sounds like a peaceful comforting place speckled with the treasures we often overlook. I finally have my backyard refuge though I have work to do planting. I sit and listen to orchestra of birds flirting across the Natural Growth Area. It’s magical! Beautiful post.

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    • Catherine, my garden is really tiny in size but endless in inspiration. I draw calm from it everyday. I like to picture you sitting quietly, listening to your bird “orchestra” – great description. I see you have capitalized the “Natural Growth Area”. Can you tell me more about this? I will visit your blog again for that reference. Thank you for your kind words.

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      • Robyn
        Endless in inspiration- wonderful way to see the world!
        About half of our property is a Natural Growth Protection Area. It can’t be developed or altered. The plants are all native and it is teeming with life- birds, bunnies, coyotes even the occasional deer. Our backyard is quite small less than half the size of the NGPA but there is a great view from our patio.
        I pretend the road noise is a river😊
        Thanks for the note!
        Catherine

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