There isn’t much more I can do now in the campaign, as if ballots aren’t posted over the weekend, there is very little chance, they will arrive in time to be counted by the Electoral Commission. There is an option to drop them off to the one ballot box at the civic centre, but I doubt many people will take this option up.
The City of Onkaparinga is 518 square kilometres and when I look at how many kilometres, I have travelled it is common for me to have done over 100kms most days. Being on the road, in my car, so much these past couple of months has been such a contrast to all the time I spent home during the pandemic. I have reconnected to parts of the council area I haven’t had a lot to do with for years, found some hidden treasures, appreciated once again the small towns on the rural fringe and more than anything, fallen in love again with the trees and their marking of ancient waterways.
One set of trees that keeps inviting me back to have a look at them are on Strout Road, McLaren Vale. They must at least three hundred years old if you look at their girth reach deep below the surface. These trees have gravitas. Close by them is an old cemetery curated by the Uniting Church. It is nestled into a corner of a junction between two roads, a perfect place to mark the collision of one world and another. I often wonder when I see these sites, who still comes, and how these people are remembered.
It was All Souls and All Saints Day this week, with Halloween as a festival seeping into our culture and I would love to see these little cemeteries being places to gather for rituals and remembrance. I love the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead. There is so much we can bring to life through remembering and connecting deep down beyond the layer of what can be seen with the gravestone. This is what these trees tell me too – to go deep to find the water under ground to be fed from an eternal spring by letting the roots find the water course invisible to the eye and made visible above ground in the green tips of new spring life in the leaves dancing on the breeze and helping hold new homes for new families of birds.
This is a season in my life. It is coming to a close. It is a season where I have put myself forward making myself more visible than I have for decades. You can find me online in every social conceivable, you can see me cris-crossing the landscape in a beat up Prius with my name on top of a large magnetic sign, you can see me popping up at events, on door steps, in letter boxes, on street corners, cafes, bars, supermarkets, playgrounds – I feel like I have touched every one of those 518 square kilometres, even though I know I haven’t. And then there are the trees on Strout Road which majestically stand and with all their sobriety give me the instructions I need to keep going – that old mantra that has held me more than once of the years – moving on holding still.
I have pasted below the first of Eliot’s quartets – Burnt Norton – where he crafts that glorious phrase the still point of the turning world. He would never have seen the gums on Strout Road, but when I saw them again, I thought of Eliot and the greater poem in which that line is contained. During the week I will go over to Strout Road and read this poem amongst the trees and consider the opening line Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future.
I have no idea if I will get elected, it Is such a vacuum, and the voter turn out is very low and there are clearly complications with the postal voting and electoral roll integrity – which I will address post-election with a submission to the Electoral Commission and hopefully a meeting with the Minister. It has been very unsettling to see the fragility of our democracy and future of civic engagement. So many feel disempowered and unable to find their voice or a way to bring their voice to the surface to be seen and heard. This only galvanises my desire to keep finding ways to do that – admittedly running for Mayor in our largest council in South Australia is a dramatic way to do that at scale – but this in the road that has been calling. At this end of the campaign ,while there hasn’t been a huge translation in voting behaviour, there have been so many people who have told me they have voted for the first time in a council election because they can see someone running that holds their values and hopes and dreams for the future of our place.
This time next week I will most likely know the result of the vote and what lies hidden in envelopes will become visible to all. If I am elected, it will be a sign we have been able to mobilise enough people to focus on the future where climate and racial justice can be embedded into the life of our municipality and where sustainability is our legacy for next generations. to have the chance to find their deepest roots. Either way I will have tested where the road is taking me next.
Burnt Norton – T S Eliot
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air, the torpid
Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,
Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney,
Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not here
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.
Descend lower, descend only
Into the world of perpetual solitude,
World not world, but that which is not world,
Internal darkness, deprivation
And destitution of all property,
Desiccation of the world of sense,
Evacuation of the world of fancy,
Inoperancy of the world of spirit;
This is the one way, and the other
Is the same, not in movement
But abstention from movement; while the world moves
In appetency, on its metalled ways
Of time past and time future.
Time and the bell have buried the day,
the black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?
Fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? After the kingfisher’s wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.
Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.
The detail of the pattern is movement,
As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always —
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.