I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Friday, January 02, 2015

Merri Creek Labyrinth

It's the second day of the New Year. High temperatures are predicted, so I decided to go for my walk early in the day. But I don't leave the house until after 11. I'm recovering from a broken arm and my shoulder and neck are hurting. Nevertheless, I manage to run about 2 km and then walk as far as the Bluestone labyrinth along the Merri Creek, constructed by a community group around 2001, according to a Cretan design.  It's not a puzzle, but you are invited to walk around its winding track. Perhaps there will be healing benefits, according to one of the notices. I head off, trying to focus on my breathing, counting 10 breaths then starting again,  and  feeling the rhythm of my footsteps,  and observing the bluestone cobs that have been used to indicate the paths.  There are all kinds of  plants and weeds growing up between the bluestones,  and tan bark  has been laid along the path.  the sun beats down and  I try to  feel the heat come through into my aching bones and muscles. After a while I get a bit dizzy, in the confusing counterpoint of breathing, counting, walking, turning, and trying to observe the stones. I reach the centre,  face the sun, and take a deep breath before turning out again. On the way out it is easier to observe the difference between the stones. Some are almost perfectly square, and I realise they will have been taken from laneways and kerbstones around the city.  Others  are more chunky and irregular in shape. Then I notice a rectangular stone that is  marked all over  with little holes where the  boiling, bubbling rock has been cooled suddenly in water.  One more turn  and I am out.  I turn and stand at the entrance again. On my right, where you turn to enter the labyrinth, is one of the most irregular shaped rocks, jagged and pointy, and covered with the white traces of lichen. On my left is one of the smoothest square blocks. The symbolism is obvious: you enter feeling ragged and jagged and uneven and you emerge smooth, even and serene. As you enter, the bubbled rock is your first obstacle: turn right here...

I start my walk home, feeling overheated and as if I have walked too far. Then I have an idea. My plan this year is to write a book on the affective history of bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria. I had always planned to blog my progress on the book as I go, so this is the first installment for 2015. But then I recalled the brilliant work of Philip Thiel, who for several years kept a series of wonderful blogs: mini entries each year: "A Year with Lemons", "A Year of Kissing People", "A Year of Stopping." What if I could do the same thing with bluestone, charting my encounters with this very characteristic Melbourne stone I walk on and past and through every day?

Well, let's not promise to do it every day. But let's see what happens. So set up your feeds, kids, and we'll see how we go.

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