Sometimes the grabbed two hours are as good, if not better, than those walks that have been planned for days or weeks. It’s not always easy to know what makes them special, but sometimes the confluence of things are glaringly obvious – as happened to me recently.
I had a couple of hours spare and I felt the need to get out and walk. I was back in northeast Victoria, and took the opportunity to go to one of my favourite places a short drive from my home – Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park.
As I’ve written before (for example, here) this landscape and I go back a long way – a connection of over 30 years in fact. And it’s one of the few places I go to to touch base with myself and to unwind, or regroup, depending on what’s been happening.
And so it was this time – a grabbed couple of hours in the forest, on a late afternoon. Being winter, the wild flowers and the orchids weren’t out, but these aren’t the only reasons I go. The sound of kangaroos bounding off, the wallabies feeding in the late afternoon, the birds settling after a long day doing whatever they’ve been doing all contributed to an atmosphere that was characterised by a sense of a day winding down which, in turn, encouraged me to do the same.
As I prepared to come back, I noticed the weak winter sun starting to set below the line of the clouds – its rays picking up the tops of the trees with a rich yellow. This winter light of late afternoon in northeast Victoria is hard to explain, except possibly with the word ‘beautiful’.
Glancing over at the setting sun, I realised there were probably 20 minutes before it disappeared completely. Rich yellow light illuminating pastures turned green with winter rain is a sight that has been etched in my memory for a very long time – since I was a kid actually. And so I quickly got into the car and drove for a few minutes out of the park and into the agricultural valley that surrounds it.
My timing was pretty perfect – an extraordinary sunset, viewed from a small lane in the Indigo valley.
And as I watched this amazing sunset, I realised that I had just engaged with a landscape – a national park, with its protection of endangered species and ecosystems, and an agricultural landscape which has shaped the lives of many people in the valley (as they have, and continue to, shape it).
A perfect two hours grabbed.