What I can’t show you

by Anna Blanch on March 30, 2012

Last Sunday I went for a walk with my camera on the University of Newcastle campus. I had an hour to spend walking around. It was quiet, almost eerily so, yet familiar in the way that a place you don’t know but which feels so much like places you’ve been. It’s a traditional rambling Australian bush campus, much like University of Canberra or University of New England – much more like Baylor, Grove City College, or George Fox, than University of St Andrews, Dundee, or Edinburgh.

It was quiet. The paths were strewn with leaves. It is well-kept but not finicky. There are no hedges in the shape of university logos.

instead there are large, imposing trees, dense almost tropical foliage and a kind of coolness in the air.

the buildings are all the better for the bush that surrounds them. they are not beautiful in their own right, being built some time between the 1960s and 1990s – they are angular, rectangular windowed. There was a striking yellow-oranged tiled feature wall that surprised me.

But I can’t show it to you.

My memory card was faulty. I took about 100 frames during my ambling wander down decisive concrete pathways that zigzagged through lawns. there were plenty of benches to take a seat on and observe – many of them functioning as wifi hotspots. i crossed bridges and walked by little waterfalls of rocks and debri, wood cut from trees lies in the undergrowth by the paths. The informality makes sense here.

I was disappointed for a moment, but only just a moment when I realised my photos from this walk were gone.

this wasn’t a purposeful walk. It was about drinking in the air, reflecting on the first four days and realising that I could remember the last time I had taken an hour to slowly observe, to let my environment tell me a story.

The wildlife and I got up close and person too. The birds and I became friends, the spiders dancing in their webs, and the mosquitos thought me quite tasty.

I was surprisingly unlike myself after that walk. I didn’t really want to talk or socialise. I just wanted to stay in that posture of observation.

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