I’m fortunate enough to live near a national park and I walk there almost every day. At first I used to take all my problems, annoyance and worries with me and I would talk to myself, argue and vent my rage as I walked along, until I realised that in doing so, I was missing out on the beauty and serenity of my surroundings. After that, I made an effort to be conscious of the beautiful eucalypts, banksias and casuarinas I passed; the wildlife (an abundance of birds, including bush turkeys and once, an echidna) and the huge variety of wildflowers, and I tried to capture what I saw in a series of haiku which I then wrote down. (NB I never go anywhere without a notebook and pen!) eg Filaments of silk / In fine nets / the spider crouches. Or: Shy flannel flowers / furry soft / unfurl towards the sun. Not great poetry, but as an author I found this an invaluable exercise in that it forced me to focus on the landscape, while the effort of choosing exactly the right words to describe what I was seeing, in short haiku form, was both challenging and enormously rewarding. Just lately, I noticed for the first time a huge rock to one side of the path (pictured.) It was flat at the top, like an altar, and it put me in mind of various sites I visited while in France and England – like Merlin’s tomb in the Foret de Paimpont in Brittany, and the (alas, vandalised) Glastonbury Thorn where people still leave prayers and offerings (pictured below.) This rock has now become my altar of thanksgiving and also of wishes. So now, when I walk through the bush, I’m on the look out for something special to leave: an odd-shaped leaf, a feather, a piece of bark or seed pod. I don’t leave anything manufactured or valuable, because I don’t want to draw attention to the rock but even so I sometimes find my offerings rearranged or even missing. No matter, for the real value lies in my need to focus, as I walk, on what’s good in my life, what I am grateful for and yes, if I have a problem or a wish, I leave it there too. And so my mind is left calm and free to accept the inspiration offered to me by whatever higher power is up there, and I am intensely grateful. And I always return home with a notebook full of scribbles!