* Culture, Featured

Simple Gestures

Philomena Cannon shares a story of finding joy in simple gestures during the coronavirus lockdown

I have always loved walking, but a daily walk has taken on greater meaning during the lockdown.

I recently thought I would walk over to my church’s community centre and just sit in the garden and enjoy the peace offered there. It was lovely to sit near the Indigenous acknowledgement garden. Evening was not far away, there was still a little warmth in the sun and the sky was still bright.

I didn’t see anyone in the church grounds. That had never happened to me before. In the “pre-pandemic” world, there was always physical activity – whether it be someone working in the office, people coming in and out of the Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre, people just sitting at the tables and chairs in the sun or musicians playing in the church. I was a little deflated by the feeling of absence.

I wandered down Sydney Road towards Princess Park. As I came to the lights at Brunswick Street, I saw the back of a woman I recognised immediately. She was dressed warmly and looked snug in her woollen gloves, woollen beanie, coat and comfortable walking shoes – someone after my own heart. It was Josephine – I was sure of it! I caught her up and yes, it was indeed Josephine.

I was so pleased to see a familiar face, a smiling face, a person in physical form I could chat to.

‘Oh Philomena Cannon how nice to see you!’ (We have always had a bit of a laugh about remembering each of our names – Josephine definitely got the points that day).

We shared a walk along the park, keeping our mandated 1.5 meters apart. We checked in on each other. Josephine offered me some advice about how to make postcards from the photos I’ve been taking on my daily walks. Great suggestions!

I shared with Josephine about an art exhibition the church was promoting. She enjoys drawing and didn’t know about this event yet as she is not connected electronically to newsletters. She waits patiently for the printed versions.

Further down the road, laid out in front of a block of apartments, were some small potted blue succulent plants. Josephine knew about these – the grounds-person often puts cuttings in pots out the front for people to help themselves. A simple generous gesture. I took one of the small pots as I bid farewell to Josephine.

As I walked home, I pondered and eventually recognised that I had always hoped I would see someone familiar from our community on that walk. Thank you, Josephine for being there, on Sydney Road, and sharing that part of my daily walk.

Post script: That little blue pot sat at my front door for less than a day. My neighbour asked if it was spare. He is planting out a new garden in the nature strip down the road, for the enjoyment of all of us. A simple generous gesture.

I was happy to let him have that plant and put it in the ground. A simple generous gesture.

Philomena Cannon