Old mate Shakespeare once typed on a Friday just before knocking off for the week and heading to the Railway pub for Happy Hour that, ‘April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.’ It was a pretty lonely beer that night for Bill, largely as the railway was yet to be discovered by some Scottish git in the Industrial Revolution.
But he was right in that April with its public holidays and autumnal glow is, as Richie Benaud may have said, a very fine month indeed.
At 4,170 feet above Hobart there’s an apparent temperature of two degrees. I’m an incurable under-dresser so am in shorts. It’s crisp. It’s Saturday.
We’re on Pinnacle Road, which has (predictably) taken us to the top of Mount Wellington. The city is below the cloudy curtain. Claire and I have come up in a bus.
As is widely known as soon as a bus driver has a functioning microphone and fondness for narrative, they become a coach captain (not always but often). This occurs.
Our hire e-bikes are onboard too. We are riding down the mountain.
Stepping out in the gusty cold being blown off the mountain seems most probable. Forever lost in a Tasmanian gully. Later discovered like an antipodean version of the Tolland Man. I later learn that winds have been clocked up here at 200 kilometres per hour.
On the way up we passed the Fern Tree Tavern which describes itself as, ‘your loungeroom on the mountain.’ This seems a long time ago. We could be in there now with something warm and affirming while we laugh about the mad types in the deathly outdoors.
Halfway down we pause at the Lost Freight Café. It is a shipping container. On chairs in the welcome sun Claire and I have lunch and then coffee and cake. A cluster of cyclists goes by.
Neither of us pedal. Our fingers and wrists throb as the brakes are squeezed continuously as a life-support strategy. It’s not cycling but loosely controlled falling. Last June we braved the Riesling Trail, and it was shared and peaceful and leisurely. This is a private hell of cold, roadkill, and metaphysical fear. Our descent is indecent. Our trip is twenty-six kilometres.
Like much in life such as exercise, work, and parenting this is only appreciated in retrospect, when the sense of achievement emerges, bruised, from the difficulty of the undertaking. I’m glad we did it.
Down on the flat we whizz about the CBD and out to Sandy Bay and chain up our bikes outside the Hope and Anchor only to lean on the door and learn that the pub is shut for Easter.
Returning our wheels, we debrief in The Whaler on Salamanca Place. It’s snug inside and a golden light bathes us and the ancient, maritime bar.
From our wooden deck on Police Point we look east. I see a bumpy lawn, a rivulet, a tide endlessly drifting in and out. In the distance is Kangaroo Bay.
Between grass and sand is a fireplace. It is all rickety concrete bricks and rusty iron.
Nightly we feed it pine logs and these are swiftly devoured. These are not like the red gum and mallee roots we burn at home. We gaze out over the dusky sea and enjoy the quiet.
Our conversation mingles with water, sand, sky, fire. We look at the twinkling sweep of the Milky Way and speak of the print on our wall back home which features the entire poem, ‘Suburban Lovers’ by Bruce Dawe. It opens with one of my favourite lines, ‘stars now have flown up out of the east.’
Claire is keen to use the kayak. Because of the strong wind a lunchtime attempt is abandoned. The canoe stays on the grassy bank.
On Saturday we saunter about Geeveston and make an unsuccessful quest to spot a platypus. We have a drink outside at the café called The Bear Went Over The Mountain before returning, for the final time, to our seaside abode.
There’s a quick frenzy of activity as I build the fire and sort a few things for our barbeque. I wonder where Claire is and call out. Her phone remains on the lounge.
I am lugging pine logs and then dispersing firelighters when shadowy movement on the still bay catches my eye.
A kayak swims into shot. It’s Claire.
The snaking kayak pushes into the rivulet by our fireplace. It’s a lovely and charming moment.
She stays in the canoe. The fire crackles and smoke phantoms about me. I stand on the bank. We chat.
Claire eases away into the glassy, darkening beyond.