Yarrawonga is a modest-sized hamlet close to the Murray River, the border between two states whose capital cities remain Covid locked. After longer than a quarter of a year on a road trip around (sort of) Australia, spending time in five states, a final four nights in Yarrawonga have accorded me two days of “work.” Of course I’ve found the town’s best cafe, Hard Luck Coffee Co., and I spend seven hours here. I work on Chapter 13, reviewing, thinking, and also, as is typical, wasting some time.

By Wednesday I’ll be home, locked down. Fourteen and a half weeks away … how much book writing time have I lost? My proper working time was probably four weeks (out of seven) in Darwin, two weeks in Cairns, and now nearly half a week here. In that time, I’ve effectively written a draft of a crucial chapter. Allowing for those weeks, I “lost” eight weeks overall. But a fortnight was research for a book, the travel was memorable (if not always “happy camper” enjoyable; I’m no natural at this), the birding was amazingly life-changing, and the sense of adventure with Pam was beautiful. I’m not complaining at all (and I know many friends and family were stuck in a long lockdown winter).

Although I know those “lost” weeks were not lost in any meaningful sense, the sense of shattered book momentum has festered, and I’m now super keen to get back to my desk on Wednesday and just disappear into work over the rest of spring and into summer. Yet I’m also strangely anxious. What will lockdown feel like this time? Will I miss the sense of freedom a road trip confers? Will work bury me?

Anticipation and anxiety, my two poles on this, my last work day in Yarrawonga… I take a deep breath and dive into work.

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