Little discoveries constantly remind that there is more unseen than seen, even when on familiar ground. For a creature who dines through the senses, an unending feast is on the other side of the door. Listening to Radio New Zealand through the wonders of the internet, waiting for the hourly chime that heralds the news and being transported to the ever present AM hum of my youth (which admittedly now is fuzz-free digital clarity), I heard a track that I’d never heard before. Rambling Man, released fifteen years ago by Lemon Jelly, I was transfixed as the singer rhythmically recanted a list of locations. As he did so the list paid a subtle homage to Bagpuss, the animated show that every child of the 70′s has somewhere over the hill on the horizon of their memory. A stop motion masterpiece, it was referenced by Radiohead when accompanying “There, There” with a visual. Connecting these waypoints through my memory was a journey of sorts, and as I ventured out for a ride, I took a journey through my adopted city and connected a more than a few chapters, yet still found myself wondering how I could live here so long and never have seen so much of this place. Not just the far flung corners that I’d never have had cause to go near, but the small delights hidden in the folds of the dress this city wears.
Behind Canterbury Racecourse lies a pathway that bends along the Cooks River, where industry seeps into the sediment, where shopping trolleys and motorised wheelchairs emerge from the tidal flow into which they were heaved, where scores of suburban warriors live out ninety minutes of glory on parks named in honour of eminent folk long forgotten. People run and ride, sit in the sun or walk their dogs, and you can ride for a couple of hours without coming across a car and make your way from the landing site of the first colonists in Botany Bay to the waters of Homebush Bay. Beside the home of the Sydney Olympics, where dreams were realised by a descendant of those who’s dreamtime was trashed, lay a path I’d never known existed, travelling past roads I knew so well.
I travelled later to Bondi, to see the heaving swell that wild winds had sent our way, what is as soothing as watching massive wave after wave come crashing to shore? I walked home via a bakery that I’d worked next to for three years yet never visited (in hindsight a mistake) and a Russian deli that gave my New Yorker wife a taste of home. I discovered smoked ribs and chicken pancakes that I’d never stopped to contemplate before (another error!). Little discoveries, hidden in the familiar, just out of view, and all we need to do is walk out the door.