Daphne has retired for another year and we would mourn it leaving but for those equally amazing friends that follow. Like the soft star petals of the clematis that have opened to sprawl their beauty casually over the tops of young wattles and weave thru the fine needle like leaves of the Far Away Tree. The coral pink of the peach blossoms strut to the tips of the branches and gently carpet the ground underneath . Wrens flit after each other chasing the deep sensual pull of hormones and breeding, a compulsion to taste the other, to nest to create.
The Far Away Tree is a gracious native bush cherry within easy sight of the east verandah not far from the redundant top car park. Back in the days of a young family John carved out wooden steps in a wood block that he lent against the trunk so the girls could reach the first spreading branch. Inspired by our readings of Enid Blyton and the Far Away Tree the girls would scamper like monkeys up as high as they felt they could go and then sit and wait for a magical world to visit them. Returning to the house with knees rubbed, clothing skewed, bark and leaves tangled in their hair and eyes shining with the telling of tales tall and true.
On a weekend morning one two three four girls would giggle and moon their way into our bed. A short distance across the room the world of Narnia beckoned. First one would bravely climb in and shut the door . ‘It’s dark in here. ‘Sometimes we would hear a whimper. ‘ It’s soooo cold. ‘Some of them lasted seconds some a few minutes and some returned shivering carrying the horror of the confrontation with the Ice Queen.
Where does the magic go?
Who holds it in their hands now?
Why do we shrug it off like a cardigan outgrown?
To be Grown up is serious business – jobs careers material pleasures, erotic liaisons, debt mortgages family planning, a suit a tie a uniform, bland clothes moderate voices, no break dancing in the street, no bold singing or humming to the tune in your head, no baring the body and jumping in the waves, no hand stands on the beach no hint of wild.
Before Narnia and before the Far Away Tree there was ‘Lets go down Fairy Lane ‘ and hands would clap and smiles would leap onto little faces. Fairy Lane, a track winding it’s way thru the forest to a gate that led out into the farmer’s paddocks and gave us access to our neighbours the Heaslips. It took the girls to boy fun and games with Seven and Leon. It gave us friendship and fine food cooked by Christine, fireworks nights engineered by a visiting Howie and rude insights and music from James.
Along Fairy Lane we wander cake and flowers cradled preciously in little arms , gifts for the fay folk. At a spot where trees grew tall and many branched, where creepers tangled into hedges and moss and ferns sang loudly of the faerie realm the girls would leave their offerings. Returning in the dark time under moonlight little feet tripping on roots along the way shooshing each other as we got closer, keen for a sighting hopeful for a sign and Seriously Excited when they discovered that the cakes were gone and gifts had been left for them.
Beside fire beside water on the earth lying under clouds and sky children rise to the possibilities held within creations dance. They pick up their textas and draw the stories. With their voices they make up words and sing the songs and with their bodies they dance the mystery.
Sometimes a star would fizzle in the night sky and race towards the earth disappearing from our view. Make a wish make a wish make a wish and it will come true. What else could we do but gather our star detectors and head off looking for the fallen star.
We trampled thru the forest finding wombat burrows curly leaves and nests cupped in branches. We discovered silver bits of paper caught in a shrub, a shiny stone pressed up against a rotten log, a silvery web slung across a bush, a dewdrop glinting in sunshine,a silvery flash from a wing turning in the top of a tree, pieces of old burnished rusty metal and some old bleached bones. It didn’t matter what we found, it didn’t matter what it was. All of it told us the story of the star that fell out of the sky and came to rest in our forest.
It is no hardship to imagine in childhood, to see thru the veil into other dimensions. It is no hardship to dream and believe in magic. It is not difficult to make a wish come true. The alchemy of turning mud pies into food ,stones into stories, crystals and flowers into healing potions, are all available to a small child. It is all there at our tiny little fingertips, held within our innocent hearts and seen thru our open eyes. And then, at some point the wardrobe becomes a place for hanging clothes again, fairy lane becomes a track to drive on to gather firewood and the far away tree is a bush cherry tree covered in a pretty creeper.