This is the furthest I’ve been from my house in weeks and it was only a ten-minute bike ride. For almost two months I haven’t been allowed to leave the house for longer than an hour, and now that restriction has extended to two hours, I’ve come to the closest place that will help me feel like I’ve left the city.
It is a patch of nature in an otherwise rather urbanised part of the world. It’s a reserve set up to protect some rare native species and while I’m thrilled it has been preserved, I’m surprised it’s been able to survive. It is neighboured by a train track, golf course, elevated highway and housing. I imagine in the past men in suits have treated government officials to wine and lunches, trying very hard to get permission to turn this patch into cheap housing or a hockey stadium.
I’ve found a spot where all my lines of sight to the city are completely shielded by nature. I can’t block out the sounds of cars swooshing to my right or the trains grumbling to my left, but at least for now I can’t see anything except for grass, trees, flowers, bees and insects. I breathe deeper as the simple illusion of more freedom relaxes me. There is pollen in the air, and although it doesn’t quite mask the greasy air of the 15-lane highway nearby, the sweetness of its scent lifts my spirits.
Lush wattle flowers have made this part of the hillside glimmer with gold. I look into the branches of a nearby tree and see tiny flower buds that have turned yellow but are yet to let their fluffy stamen loose. They look like sturdy, engineered shapes that if much larger could be attached to machinery to help shape roads or forge metal in a factory. It’s almost as if the nature was inspired by the human-made environment around it, but I know it’s actually been, and always will be, the other way around.