Lights Out in 5 Minutes in the Bush Capital

Photography: Trish Jean

Lights out in five minutes!

I used to find that echo down the hallway from the kitchen to the bedrooms a nightly disappointment, and especially in the colder months of the year. Not only because we had to turn the lights off in five minutes, which meant no more reading, but because my solution was to sit in the toilet and read! And in Canberra in winter, leaving my bed was a cold proposition and not a warm reality! I have very strong memories of receiving my first dictionary when I was 6 and spending night after night in the cold reading it, cover to cover until it was done.

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Tonight I was back in the cold, busy before the lights went out, this time with my gorgeous friend Mim who had invited me to photograph the sunset from the Red Hill Lookout. The cloud cover meant we didn’t get what she was hoping for in terms of evening light on Mount Ainslie and over some of the key institutions in the landscape, but I love the sky cinema and you just can’t get a bad sunset when there are clouds about!

Australia’s capital city, Canberra, is known as the bush capital. These photos taken tonight on Red Hill show how that moniker is warranted. We walked the track from the look out, to find some good vantage points and views. We had a splendid view of light bursts and rays through the clouds. Mim and I are both Christians, so we couldn’t help but mention God in relation to what we were seeing. I reminded her how Bryce Courtenay (in April Fools Day) calls the rays through the clouds “fingers of God”. Of course as a mad Crowded House fan I also always think of their song “Fingers of Love”. The lyrics seem rather pertinent.

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“Fingers Of Love”
Can you imagine that

An itch too sensitive to scratch
The light that falls through the cracks
An insect too delicate to catch
I hear the endless murmur
Every blade of grass that shivers in the breeze
And the sound that comes to carry me
Across the land and over the seaAnd I can’t look up
Fingers of love move down
And I can’t look back
Fingers of love move downColour is its own reward
Colour is its own reward
The chiming of a perfect chord
Let’s go jumping overboard
Into waves of joy and clarity
Your hands come out to rescue me
And I’m playing in the shallow water
Laughing while the mad dog sleeps

And I can’t look up
Fingers of love move down
And I won’t be hit
Fingers of love move everywhere

There is time yet
Fall by the way
From the cradle to the grave
From a palace to the gutter
Beneath the dying waves of the sun
Lie fingers of love

Through waves of joy and clarity
A fallen angel walked on the sea
And I’m playing in the shallow water
Laughing while the mad dog sleeps

And I can’t look up
Fingers of love move down
And I won’t be hit
Fingers of love move everywhere

There is time yet
For you to find me
And all I want
Fingers of love move down

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We were also fortunate enough to see an eagle looking for some dinner. I don’t have the right sort of lens to really get a close up, but I was determined to at least get some pictures that weren’t blurry! The eagle is a totem of mine, so I’m always delighted to see one. If you’re interested you can read one of my poems about an eagle by clicking here. It’s from the blog post With an Itch, Light, Leap.

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As you can see from the eagle shots, the clouds were pretty great, so here’s a few of those…

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The one above makes me think of Skywhale, a hot air balloon commissioned by the city of Canberra to celebrate its centenary in 2013. Quite controversial. I like it, but I’m a big fan of the artist who designed it, former Canberran Patricia Piccinni. Click here to see a picture of Skywhale.

And that just leaves the shots of some key Canberra landmarks…Parliament House and in the distance up Anzac Parade to the War Memorial (a fave haunt for my younger brother and I as kids), part of Lake Burley Griffin (where Peter and I would go swimming after we’d ridden our bikes to the War Memorial), and lastly, Black Mountain Tower (otherwise known as Telstra Tower…it’s corporation name if you like).

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A fun evening of trying to recall how to best use the camera, in good company, under a stunning sky cinema showing.

And a fun post to create too. I think it’s good to finish it off with the poem of a local poet that picks up the local eagle story.

The Return

(Paul Williamson)

Eagles appeared suddenly on the hill
yesterday flying still in the wind
two sets of black wings held fingers spread
like on an ancient shield.
Today they perch on strong talons, crooked beaks
taunted by miniature magpies.

Decades back on a family trip
we saw eagles strung dead
wing tip to wing tip on miles of barbed fences.
Sheep grazed the dry grass behind.
Deaths for crimes against rural livelihood
were later eclipsed by DDT.

For years a reclusive pair of survivors
has worked the roads from Mugga Ridge to the south.
Each year they send their young to fly
until this season with good rains for growth and
food for extra chicks
returns wedge-taileds to Red Hill.

This poem is part of an online anthology hosted by the Red Hill Regeneration Group. Click here for more poetry.

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