Sunday in Bellbird Dell

Up towards the far end of Bellbird Dell, a short bushland walk of maybe one hour return trip, I heard music. Grumpy, and determined to have A Walk, I griped to myself about inconsiderate households playing music loud enough to disturb the natural sounds of the dell. Not that neighbouring houses could help it, because they back right onto the bushland, and I’m sure their unraised voices would be heard.

Piano sounds lilted through the air.

On my return trudge, I heard the music again. As I came to the fork in the path, where I have the choice of walking further on the path, or heading off along a wooden walkway, I saw a family of four. I realised that the older boy, perhaps ten years old, was playing a large electric keyboard on a stand.

His mother was on her mobile phone, talking rapidly and quietly, walking back and forth as she did so. No particular intensity to her words, just a never-ending stream of them. The younger son was first occupied looking at something his father pointed out in the bushes, and then stood pulling a long set of faces.

The father stood up from pointing things out, and came back to where his older son was playing. He checked the video camera on a stand, and then retrieved a digital camera from a bag and began snapping pictures of the piano-playing son.

The music wasn’t classical, but rather new age-y. Drifting and meandering, with no particular theme or repetition. The boy wore a deep red velvet jacket, and a cream shirt underneath, with black trousers. His thick shiny black hair formed a helmet over his bent head. He watched his hands as if surprised at what was pouring out of them.

The notes were even, and around them, birdsong ceased. The clearing they stood in was thin on winter foliage, and at 4pm, the first signs of dusk were coming on.

I worried that the crunch of my shoes on the gritty path would interfere with the recording. I slowed down, but I still crunched as I walked. I wanted to sit down on the cold damp ground and watch and listen, but didn’t.

I walked slowly by, giving two thumbs up to the father, who was the only one who acknowledged me, and mouthed: ‘Good’, my eyes darting towards the boy.

I kept going, but wanted to stay.

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