Vivienne Ingram

Vivienne Ingram loves to experience the natural world from her high rise apartment. In this interview she describes the views from her windows, the pleasures of rain, wind and weather in general; her affection for visiting birds, flying foxes and regular walks through foreshore parks and her urban environment. In the excerpt below she recalls the storm of red dust that blanketed Sydney in September 2009.

The dust storm really was something quite shocking and frightening and mercifully, thanks to radio and the television, I quickly became aware of what it was. But that first sense of waking up and tasting it, feeling it, and then looking around and your whole environment’s changed – everything’s covered in this layer of red dust – it really was very unpleasant and very frightening, because it was surreal. It had never happened before, I had no idea what it was, and it was everywhere. It coated absolutely everything. So I quickly realised that closing all the windows was important but notwithstanding that it got in through every crevice. And then that day I had to do something in the city and I felt like an idiot, thinking that I should wear a facemask, but lots of people were wearing facemasks and I regret that I just didn’t want to look stupid. And it was surreal, walking through the city with everybody feeling awkward. It was a bit like the atmosphere after September 11, with everybody feeling that their ordinary world was no longer safe and was no longer identifiable to them as it was yesterday. And I think it’s that sense of things being extremely ‘other’ and very alien, and the fact that the dust and the elements can get into your hermetically sealed cocoon is very confronting.

Jo Kijas