A spring in our step

Springtime in Sydney. Photo: Destination NSW.

Sunny Grace pens a paean to spring – and an easing of lockdown restrictions – in our fair city.

This past week Sydney has felt different. Like a fog is lifting. Like it usually does at the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Only it is the first full week of October, not September. Spring has been with us for a month already and yet Sydneysiders were uncharacteristically glum in September as the never-ending lockdown dragged on. 

Since Gladys announced 11 October as the date when restrictions would ease, the city has started to allow itself to shine again. As I look out my window across the ocean today, she is sparkling in all her spring glory, from the shimmering blue ocean and glistening sky to the pink and yellow wattles in bloom.   

Despite the recent upheaval in our state politics, Sydneysiders are smiling again. Behind their masks, I see smiling eyes. Eyes that are more inclined to look at each other passing on the street. Eyes that seem to be saying, ‘We made it. We did it. There is an end in sight.’

Café proprietors are practically beaming at the possibility of putting their tables on the footpath again and serving breakfast to their loyal customers who have only been able to purchase takeaway for the past several months. 

Shop owners are in their stores again, getting ready to open their doors, if they have been able to stay afloat without foot trade. 

Daylight saving has started. Summer is coming. Christmas holidays will be here before we know it.  

There is hope we can see our families again. 

Spring is cherry blossom time at the Auburn Botanic Gardens in Western Sydney. Photo: Wolter Peeters.

People are making plans to cross LGAs and state borders. Planes will cross the sky again. I will finally get to meet my son’s girlfriend’s family.  Soon, my mum can visit and I can visit my mum. Perhaps next year we can see my husband’s family in New Zealand. 

I am planning a business trip to LA using the plane ticket credit I have from the ticket I booked back in 2019. Home quarantine instead of hotels is on the cards for returning travellers. I don’t mind either way as I love liminal spaces. I find them a great place to write. But I will be happy to save the money and quarantine at home with my husband’s cooking rather than hotel food.

We will stop watching updates about case numbers and vaccination rates. Stop watching premiers tear each other to shreds and compete for vaccines, double doughnut days and grand finals. Instead, we can go to the movies. Theatres will open.  I cannot wait to walk into a theatre and sit in the dark and see people live on stage. I cannot wait to see a movie on the BIG SCREEN. To sit in the dark and be immersed in another world, without interruption from notifications or family members. 

Whilst watching TV shows and films on my laptop and TV has been a saving grace during lockdowns it can never replace the sense of occasion and immersion from watching shows on the stage and cinema screen. 

My hope is people the world over will value these experiences more. I would happily sit in a dark cinema to watch good cinematic episodic TV. How much fun it would be to go to a cinema once a week to watch the latest episode of your favourite TV show. Have you noticed recent releases are not so readily available to binge/stream? Some are being released weekly instead. Like Fires on the ABC. I would love to see that on a big screen.  

Oh – and remember restaurant dining? Sitting at a table and eating food hot from the kitchen on beautiful plates with a waiter helping make the most of the experience.

A couple enjoying food and drink with views across Balmoral Beach at Public Dining Room, Mosman. Photo: Alexandra Adoncello/Destination NSW.

Mind you, I don’t mind if the picnics continue. I have always been a picnic fan. My friends and I used to have them often when I was in my late teens and early twenties. In graveyards and botanical gardens, on beaches and riverbanks. 

I also hope our new freedom will encourage people to spend more time outside. To venture to places they haven’t seen before, just because their own parks and beaches have become too familiar. A day trip to another beach or national park. Especially with the weather heating up.  

Even the birds seem to feel it, although I guess for them it is just spring, after all. But for the rest of us, there is a spring in our step, proving freedom and human interaction is imperative to good mental health. Let’s hope this conviviality continues as we find our way back into the big wide world. Tempered with the awareness that it can happen again. 

It will never be the same but from this we learn and grow. 

Let’s enjoy our fair city as it shines again. And continue smiling at each other when the masks come off.  

Happy spring!

Sunny Grace is a Sydney writer, producer and director. Her website is located at sunnygrace.com.au.