As we pottled over Bass Strait on the plane to Tassie I read a couple of chapters from Time Travel: A History by James Gleick. Gleik sets out via Wells the improbability of going back in time somewhere before conceding (after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between philosophy and physics) that there is no such thing as time – that time is a mere socio-biological-linguistic construct which allows us to coincide with another life form at an agreed place for coffee.
Whatever the facts of time may be, in the alleged hour it takes to fly from Melbourne to Hobart we must have either returned to the past or else been delivered into a steam punk future. We can’t be sure which. What we do know is that we are deliriously happy to arrive in a place that is being held in some form of spacetime limbo.
So amazing is the elasticity of time on the island (see earlier posts on this strange effect) that we find time to drink coffee, walk, eat, do more walking, draw and walk some more.
Within the span of a supposed mere day, ie whereby we believe that we circle about the sun and return to an appointed point in the great void for bedtime – we also take a leisurely visit to Tasmania’s Botanical Gardens. The sublime mix of soothing cool green and dazzling colour soaked in Tassie sunshine gives an ‘out-of-body’ sensation.
Time stretches long enough to soak in picture perfect moments and sketch in the cool shade as water trickles and splashes. Even the ducks are willing to pose in a completely unhurried way.
But sheltering under a larger group of conifers there is a tangible reminder of our feeble ability to conceptualise whatever it is that time may be.
A small clutch of Woolemi pines send out their curious shoots and cones and take us far back into a distant landscape where plants of this type were first noted in Tasmania’s fossil record – a lineage estimated to go back millions of years and supposedly to be long extinct. Yet here they are – rediscovered in our meagre lifetime, very much present and growing – time travellers indeed.