Friday morning at the park in Bega is the fortnightly South Coast Producers Ass Markets. Elsie with Chloe in harness and I wandered over to check it out. We stopped at the SCPA stall, John Champagne our permaculture guru and one of the initiators of this local homegrown chemical free market is sitting relaxed. His deeply tanned face filled with crinkles of outdoor life under a beaten up akubra hat smiled up at me … ‘found your way out of the bush for a big town day.’ our big town of only a few thousand people.
‘yes’ we laugh. Thea working behind a table laden with spring seedlings greens citrus and brochures of this and that wanders over … ‘isn’t it funny… you know it is only just up the road- not so far at all.’
‘Aaaa hhh … but it is a dimensional shift as well Thea, it cannot be measured solely in physical distance ( 6o odd kms) – it is more the movement thru dimensions to get here’ I tell her as we hug. John grins ‘that’s it ‘ he says. Thea tilts her head on the side and studies me as if I am a previously unencountered specimen and replies ‘of course, I hadn’t considered it like that.’
I leave home deep within a forest and travel in a car along a two laned “highway” narrow in places with an occasional passing lane. The speedo ticks over the miles and so much fuel is used. I stay in my lane keep my seatbelt on and do not speed. ( yes I did get a ticket recently ) …..( but it was my first ever.) The countryside of hills and valleys farms blurrrrr past, sometimes a sharp outline from a fleeting glance – a cloud a tree or a rock formation or flowering hedge imprints it self.
In town I park between two white lines pay parking hasn’t arrived yet and leave the car unlocked. I enter the concrete scape of densely packed buildings shops offices advertising and inhale car exhaust perfume and old silage. People busy busy in a lay back south coast kind of way .
Skye comes up to us . We clasp each other warmly tightly lovingly – a friendship of warrior women, a shared spiritual sisterhood of many years and many ceremonies.
‘Tell me’ I demand.’
‘it was great’ she said shading her eyes from the warm august sun over our heads. ‘it was …’
‘Was it hard …doable’ I ask? hungry not so much for details but the feeling. ‘I have been thinking of you Bern Peter Jane.’
‘We walked for two days then had a rest day walked two more than rest –like that so totally doable’ she said.
‘The first two days were the hardest – climbing high rocky dry rugged mountains and the view… for ever …you can see forever ‘ she said widening her arms ….‘at night sleeping under the stars… it is expansive opening but in a very grounded way… just being a part of that landscape.’
‘Yes’ I nod. I can feel that.
Skye has just walked a section of the 220km long Larapinta Trail. She was on a yatra -10 days of silence in Central Australia where the land is vast and red and brown and dry and oasis appear in gorges like a surprise on your birthday.
Elsie and I buy lettuce and mizuna seedlings for her new garden bed that a recent visit from her Dad has produced. She is very excited by this development and we buy the seedlings at my next door neighbours stall.
‘I have four more camels now’ says Christa.
‘ Wow ’ I shake my head and laugh with her.
‘How many do you need?’ asks Elsie.
‘come over and see them.’
‘I will next time Kingston is visiting.’
wow seven camels…
‘if you want a couple of camels in your bush’ she says…
mmmm what on earth would the wallabies say to that ?
There is a piece of fabric with a couple of ‘working things’ on it -a digger and tractor , a scrap left over from a shirt or quilt belonging to Kingston. I had blue tacked it up at his height on the brick wall of the chimney. Last week when he was here he moved it over a bit and when he left it fell down. I picked it up reworked the dried out blue tac and put it back up.
I noticed and not for the first time green paint splodges on the bricks as if some little person has had a daub or ten or cleaned their brush along the wall. And I thought about the freedom involved in this very small action. Admittedly it is a basic freedom – but even so it surely stands up there with other greater acts of rebellion like permaculture, like growing your food with love and mulch, like practicing loving kindness.
For so many people a home is a piece of real estate where the inside and outside must conform to an idea of ‘niceness’ a societal value .The walls cannot be marked by the brush or the pen or nail or staple gun. Following trends and brochures taking out second mortgages and maxing out the credit card to re do re paint re carpet modernise make bigger get new. Surrounded by gardens that showcase pebbles straight lines and tricky plants. Inside there are cupboards of cleaning agents and the television is the main focus of family life.
here I am with mud walls mud floor – mud associated with dirt and disgust. Always dirt beneath my nails. Walls painted oddly haphazardly or not at all. Secondhand living quirky and eccentric.A well lived worn house indeed , everyone who has ever been here has left their mark in some form or another.
I am telling Thea this story – of this basic freedom of living within a canvas in which we the family are the living artists.
‘I am so blessed to be able to live this way.’
‘We are indeed’ she replies.
what a freedom what a radical call to arms.
subversion dissent revolution civil disobedience all have their honourable place within the human story. And yet oppression still squats heavily upon us choking spontaneity creativity and the zest for wild unpredictable behaviour.
I take up my arms my fingers my body. I embrace my heart and remove their tacky claws from my skin. I switch off their voices on the radio and leave the papers in the newsagent.
When a plate breaks it is a good thing because another if needed can be acquired from the op shop .
how subversive how defiant to the consume get rich have more world.
a basic freedom a small action and yet it is these small things that garner a change that grow our community in cultural richness – that bring forth creative solutions and engender feelings of deep connection.
There is time in our days to be present not with a future self but with now with the moment.
This morning in Cobargo Saturday market day a gentleman sitting in a car called us over and asked about the Women’s Refuge. It is a long story but after 20 years it closed in July. It got “forgotten about “ in the last state budget and ahem we do live in a country with a strong denial of domestic violence.
In a sleight of hand it has been given to Mission Australia a religious organisation with no background in women’s services to run as a refuge/ homeless shelter. ????? They are renovating it and their staff admit to zilch training in domestic violence issues . He said he has a woman camping near his place with nowhere to go . What could she do?
A couple of my friends introduce themselves to her one of them the coordinator of our Bega Women’s Resource Centre with her pulse firmly on the ground in women’s services in our area. On ringing for assistance the woman had been told that the nearest refuge for her in this moment is Darwin several thousand kms away.
The circle has returned and grass-roots appears to be the answer , once again.Over coffee we notice a sign on a community noticeboard for a caravan at a friend’s place in return for a days work and it will be suggested to this woman. Her face wearing the marks of abuse looks hopeful and she is grateful that women stop and care about her in the street. We hope the community can hold her together in some way until she finds her independent feet.
small actions basic freedoms – not to be shortchanged .