As I sludge my way through the soft slice of afternoon snow glistening in the sunlight, the voice inside my head reminds me of my recent absence. I feel like a newcomer I hear it say. It bellows so loudly I wonder whether the woman passing by, walking in the opposite direction, closer to where the stone wall peaks out from under its white coat, hears it roar. I hide my embarrassment, the rawness I am feeling as I heave each leg, unaccustomed to its heavy boot, out of the foot deep hole it has made and place it down to sink into the next. The memory of walking up the steep bush track on the peninsula above Manly Beach in Sydney flickers into my mind. The burning heat of the southern sun, the climb; I did not pant from exhaustion the way I do now, laboring under my thick winter coat and scarf, my boots rooting me to the gloopy snow.
And below me, the water gently whispers. Advancing toward the lacy border of ice slowly nibbling away at its edge.
I surge onward, around the bend in the shoreline and out of the sun. The soft sludge of snow turns into an icy crust so that my boots break through it as though mapping out a brand new path. I fall, one foot and then the other. Perhaps I think, if I fall far enough, I will fall back into that southern sky…
I look over the water. It glistens under the warming March sun, rekindling another memory. That last afternoon on Sydney Harbor. The water that beamed a bridge of light from where I stood on the deck of the Manly Ferry all the way to under the Harbor Bridge. The memory still spans my gut like the arch of that bridge. I stop, the ice crunching under my boot reorients me.
Water is water. Sun is sun. These forces speak to me no matter which hemisphere I am standing on. Be it an icy beach or a sun bleached bush track.