Finally, blogwise, we are on to Australia. The bounty in words and images will be less plentiful, not for the reason attentive readers might imagine. Yes, we’ve made it clear that New Zealand captured our regard and affections to a degree that is unlikely to be matched – even by as welcoming and giving a country as Australia. But that’s not it. The incident in Auckland which I only glancingly mentioned took center stage in Australia, radically curtailing what we did and therefore what we have to convey.
Gideon collided into a serious concussion on the (obviously) rough and tumble – or I should say heads-crashing and elbow-to-head smashing – basketball courts of central Auckland. To dub it serious is to convey much and nothing. As the medical and responsible sports worlds have come to recognize, there’s no such thing as a non-serious concussion. Gideon did not lose consciousness, so that’s a positive. But for the next few weeks, he suffered from fogginess, light sensitivity, headaches (they weren’t that bad or lasting), and working memory problems. For the better part of almost four weeks in Australia, he barely went out and, because he required continuous care and comfort, Sarah and I did somewhere between comparatively-and-amazingly little. We departed Sydney ahead of schedule, after but a few days, to a recuperative place, Palm Beach, an hour north, where the din (noise bothered him) and bustle of the city were replaced by the quietude and seaside rhythms of nature. The most obtrusive sounds came from the many birds flying around, especially in the early morning, with some (most notably, a faithful white cockatoo with a yellow crest), to our thrill, visiting our veranda. Gideon loved our place there and what constituted the thereness of there.
In the service of convalescence, we cancelled our trip to Cairns, Port Douglas, the Daintree Rainforest, and, truly sadly, the on-the-ropes Great Barrier Reef, dying as the (global) warming water kills its coral, bleaching it skeletal white. Sydney, Palm Beach, and Melbourne was to be our Australia. We almost stayed for additional weeks, when it seemed that Gideon needed more stasis and ease, but then one day in Melbourne he (or his head) turned things around, not in the sense of making a full recovery but in emerging from the debilitating mental fog, which meant he could carefully, if prudent, resume activities. So, we saw more of Melbourne than we had of Sydney (where Sarah and Gideon didn’t even manage to tour the Sydney Opera House). Melbourne is a lovely city of many manifest virtues, which contribute to its regular designation as one of the best cities in the world to live in.
Sarah managed to do some important professional work, helping a future heart center open its own heart to good and wellness-promoting design. We met some lovely friends of a friend. We saw a museum exhibition of one of my favorite contemporary artists, Del Kathryn Barton (what luck!), hardly known in the US (she’s Australian), explored the magnificent Royal Botanic Gardens,
and walked and looked, and walked and looked, which, after all, is just about our favorite urban activity – especially when the walking and looking amply reward.