Sunday, September 18, 2011

Six Day Ride : Thursday, Friday and Saturday

The next two days involved no intensive riding. I did 60km on Thursday and 100km on Friday, both times in a loop that ended back at my Mum’s.  Basically I enjoyed a laid back holiday for two days.

The ride on Thursday took in Speewa, Stony Crossing, and Tooleybuc. Speewa is an open area.

Stony Crossing takes in the Wakool River and Merran Creek.

Tooleybuc meets the Murray. Outside of town I stopped and visited a cemetery and lake. I love country cemeteries, generally because they are old. I enjoy walking through the Melbourne cemetery near my house, however it can be quite ugly. Mostly this is because the view from the paths is obscured, for the slither of land between the path and the old graves has been filled in with further graves of black marble and gold, of such a height as to block out the view of the old stone and moss that begins only a few feet further in, utterly spoiling any chance of beauty. Central Europeans have a habit of this, of making cemeteries as ugly as their modern cities. Whereas Europeans from further east or west understand that cemeteries can and ought to be places of beauty: the moss-covered sandstone of England, or the flowers and earth of Czechoslovakia. Old Australian cemeteries are modelled after English cemeteries. But in the Mallee there is no moss. Rather what we find at Tooleybuc is a wonder: a cemetery that is Mallee scrub, made of bushes bursting with native flowers, amidst which are graves interspersed, a few here, a few there.

New graves,

and old.

I was quite alone as I wandered through the scrub looking for the pockets of graves.

The place seemed not only deeply peaceful but also magic. Then I found the source of a sound (look closely) which had effected me without my noticing, shaping my mood as I walked through this place.

Out of my feelings in this place a thought came to me, and I became clear on my rejection of belief in ghosts. I reject the belief because it makes the dead seem strange and fear-worthy, as well as trapped. But the beautiful cemetery suggests a different metaphysics, where human beings die because they are born, a cycle of lives and stories. Their individuality is enfolded in time and memories, and when they are gone their substance, whatever it ultimately is, disperses. Such a cemetery is a place where I am able to say, peacefully, “It is ok to die”. It is natural.

Opposite the cemetery was a large lake which does not appear on the map. Surrounding the lake was flooded bushland, populated by thousands of birds. Ducks. In a constant symphony. I rode my motorcycle through this forest.

The next day was Saturday. I took no photos that day as I rode from Nyah to Melbourne via the Murray Valley and McIvor Highways. In all I did 1700km of riding, mostly over four days, but with a motorcycle holiday of six days all up. The SR500 held up well and I felt very refreshed by the end. Furthermore I had fulfilled an ambition that has sat idle with me for several years now, and those roads around the deserts are no longer lines on a map but now travel within me as flowing memories.

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