Voice of Real Australia: Enjoying the pursuit of pleasure during dreary lockdowns

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Home gardens, even a herb patch attached to a fence using pots made from recycled material can give real pleasure during the lockdowns.

Home gardens, even a herb patch attached to a fence using pots made from recycled material can give real pleasure during the lockdowns.

Lockdown provides plenty of time to contemplate what is important in our lives.

More and more our minds turn away from the grimness of survival to what gives us pleasure.

Today I passed two people stopped on a local walking path apparently discussing the arrival of spring.

A house adjacent to the path had opened its gate and this masked-up pair were peering at the wonders within.

A massive display of purple lavender flowers waving gently in the breeze.

Some of us have enjoyed watching our own modest plants becoming more vibrant in colour, bees are shaking off their winter lethargy.

Seedlings planted in hope by inexpert hands are taking root. A herb patch inspired by some television show or other using recycled materials is showing unexpected growth on our fence.

So gardens give some of us pleasure, many of us I suspect.

Having survived the winter gives me more relief than most other Victorians. Having lived in the Northern Territory for the best part of six years where the year-round fashion of choice is shorts and thongs, you might understand why.

In the final week of our stay I was at some shop or other closing an account, and the owner questioned why we were leaving?

"We're going back to Melbourne to be near our kids again," I said. The owner recoiled in horror.

As she opened her mouth I was braced for the usual jibes about Victoria being COVID-central which had been the constant well-meaning advice since we had decided to leave. But this shopkeeper had a different horror in mind.

Bees are shaking off their winter lethargy, as are some former Territorians.

Bees are shaking off their winter lethargy, as are some former Territorians.

"But the weather, the cold, how can you stand it," she said. "Get your kids to move up here," she offered, in the firm belief shared by all Territorians that they live in the best place in the world.

We did have to update our wardrobe. And the money saved on air-conditioning was quickly chewed up by heating costs.

We did learn to pay more attention to the weather forecasts than we did up north, where it is maddeningly the same for months on end.

But we got used to it quicker than we thought although there was one night at the footy, at Marvel (used to be Etihad) stadium, where I thought I would die from exposure.

Of course family gives us the greatest pleasure, family and friends. Our loves.

Hard during lockdown, it can be awful but there is some reassurance from being close by.

Darwin was so far away. And the borders were closed so it was impossible.

We took flights via Sydney, with a hire car for the rest of the journey. One of my children was forced to return home via a bus trip down the Stuart Highway through the Alice to Adelaide, with a train trip to follow.

Interesting outback country for sure but in three sleep-deprived days, it was hellish for her.

The things we did to stay connected.

Lots of others are doing so, so much tougher than the rest of us.

It can be food, some interesting recipes are being tried for the first time, and many times, the last time.

Cocktails seem to be a popular sport, although that can be a bit messy.

Ordering stuff online, and waiting for the package to arrive and break the monotony.

People are treasuring these little moments.

Some friends are planning their overseas travel adventures in great detail, just waiting for the borders to open.

Books, music, volunteering, getting to know the neighbours better.

We are being forced to examine ourselves and what we really want out of this life.

Separating the noise, throwing out the chaff and zeroing in on the real things that matter to us.

What do people search for in desperation when a bushfire threatens? Usually picture albums, irreplaceable.

For me, there has been some upsides to lockdown, the herb patch on the fence for instance. I probably would have been "too busy" otherwise to bother.

Those moments with family, the coming of spring, the bright purple lavender.

I hope to remember it all when the world comes crashing in again, as it will surely do.

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