the faerie embassy is my home space,a beautiful mudbrick castle in a richly diverse forest. which means I am very passionate about wallabies and pythons and mist spiders and twisted angophoras and the sound of the wind and the feel of the rain . we are an ark ,an island of light, a beacon of common sense in a crazy out of control consumption mad world.we have a composting toilet for goddess sake.
first day of lockdown I tell the magpies spread the word flocking together is banned a tilt of the head a quizzical look throat opens and a ripple of pure sound pours forth.
I tell the bush rats they have to leave we are only allowed five visitors or is it none? hard to keep up with “The Rules” too bad they answer stealing another cake of my homemade soap from the washbasin.
gosh not much interest in the forest no social distancing in the bottle brush forget sanitiser and masks look plain ridiculous on birds so……. a human only affair then.
the hills rivers clouds in the sky continue Being the raven flies across the valley calling out frogs at the dam chorus rain is coming next door Warren and the tractor are busy.
how many realities are there? what if there is no one size fits all? what if it is a mosaic of brilliant orchestrated pieces interconnected in a design we are unable to fathom? what if this moment of breath is what we own? And what if we are co-creating this lockdown drama?
it has been a while has it not since we last met up, here we are – once again in a circle holding hands . the faerie embassy is emerging from its winter snuggy unfurling into a windy spring. welcome swallows are renovating a nest on the mud wall outside the kitchen daffodils nod in brilliant yellows around the yard tiny swollen blossom buds on the one surviving peach tree are almost fit to burst . the grey shrike thrush sings magpies strut about on the verandah stand on the back of the rocking chair and carol look in thru the glass door at us begging in a very proud and aristocratic way.
the heart tenderness of spring new life rising – poignant bitter sweet in a forest deep in recovery after the fire the regeneration is fierce, weeds prolific and many dead trees to remind us of the blaze.
Death comes knocking at her door unprepared innocence answers a beloved companion does not return grief surges without tidal restraint and the day is no longer a friend.
Tragically Chloe guide dog for 8 years to daughter Elsie died words cannot fill the hole sadly Chloe chose to leave on Elsies birthday it reminds how precious every moment we share with our beloveds is.
code red humanity code red obviously we needed to hear it again we needed it to be spelt out loud and clear if ever there was a time to make some changes now is the hour.
by the shining Sea we sit in liquid silence of silver light unseen the stars weave a quilt our breath a stitch holds on tight.
by the shining Sea we pray regret and suffering come to rest yin and yang circle around hearts remember all are blessed.
by the shining Sea we are immersed within the golden mean a Song emerges from the stars and we who Sing remain unseen.
months have tripped by and life has been unravelling stitch by stitch only to be scooped up examined and mended where possible. post fire life has taken on a different quality and explanations are poor affairs when integration and trauma wrestle for space.
Here’s a tale ( but not all is told) of a man with a mission a dream realised of bravery high drama and fortitude of inspiration and love.
We had been waiting for hours finally a sighting, a white sail bobbing on a big swell crossing the foaming horses galloping into Horseshoe bay. a week since leaving Botany Bay My beloved is almost home. the wind threatening will not allow hats scarves or the use of binoculars hair stinging against cheeks.
Kingston wants to sit in the car play with his ipod. Why love? its windy grandma. heaven help me look here comes grandad he doesnt realise having an adventure at 73 turning your world upside down sailing an ocean tackling your fears giving up comforts hang on a minute, he has a teapot and cosy chocolate cheese and paisley curtains books and charts on bulging shelves a feather pillow for sweet dreams.
Sailing past the heads where is he going grandma? just checking out the bar love no room to get this wrong not on this wild day.
Midsummer blood sport in Bermagui a crowd on the cliff top on a ferociously windy day watching the trawlers, pleasure boats, fisherfolk bump and wobble cross the bar, ooohs and aaahhs chasing.
A tiny 24 foot blue boat Telemachus remember him son of Penelope and Odysseus, went looking for his dad found him, they teamed up and beheaded all of Mums suitors.
The ocean thrashing around wind scudding and bold, Telemachus is caught out on the turn lurches and leans over, Kingston squeals grabs me they are designed to roll I say heart in mouth.
come on love you can do it you’re home love you can do it some madwoman is screaming oh gosh that was me.
All round us people are jabbering phones clicking videos streaming mad as a cut snake this bloke why doesn’t he put his engine on? has he got a phone? goddess help me sever their heads.
The pitching blue boat lines up the bar hand fixed to tiller white sail snapping in the wind. Telemachus rises up bounces falls rises again catches a single moment of calm and sails elegantly through the heads into the harbour. he nailed it grandma. indeed he did.
Thunderous applause claps and cheers from awed bystanders puzzles the tired captain.
all the way from Sydney to Bermagui our hero and no suitors to behead. January 25, 2021.
rising up like waves activists press against the bastion eroding sharp edges flaking chipping away, the wall remains sealed holding tight against the change agents.
anyone who has ever been part of a movement of protest knows the drill, hours days nights plans maps letters bright ideas, fundraising tears dramas court cases, years flowing like the river banks ever changing, where once a pool now a sandbar where once a gurgling rapid now a reedy swamp.
grey hairs threaten exhaustion depletion anger ptsd despair depression, until … run walk away give up fighting become a baker or a plumber retire take up gardening drink a beer knit a blanket.
and still after all the blood sweat and tears the brilliant campaigns the lock ons tree sits marches meetings with politicians bumper stickers signs of hope minor victories changes in legislation, the bastion remains. greater technology deadlier weapons, coveting more and more Earth a seeming impenetrable nightmare of coercion and profit.
some activists change stories slip sideways stop pushing against return, reduce the scale to one life theirs one choice……. theirs one hope……. theirs and from one breeds many.
the virus teaches us this infection spreads ever widening its circle of influence.
a smile thrown to a crowd returns a story spoken around breakfast whispers over social media a piece of art, a quilt, a poem, teases and stretches melding into cells and blood vessels strengthening resolve soliciting further inquiry enabling contagious spontaneous bursts of action for the benefit of… for the Whole.
2021 begins active aware creative open hope full in choosing we Dream Tomorrow.
one year ago this day we were in Merimbula visiting Zoe Kean and Frankie, Kingston was with us. Frankie was four then , Kingston nine and not feeling well – sore stomach – probably anxiety – living in a thick atmosphere of smoke and threat of fire over many weeks. Zoe checked ‘fires near me’.com – the Badja fire was growing bigger – time for us to leave. Back home we prepared – roof swept, gutters cleaned out with rags stuffed in the ends to hold water, pumps filled with petrol, hoses connected around the house spraying water over verandahs, sweeping tidying gathering – on and on it went under thickening smoke with black embers dropping into existence above our heads. Last summer was hot and dry so very different to this years cooler temperatures, heavy cloud cover, drizzly misty with exciting afternoon storms and green green green, dams full and rivers gurgling. The scarring of the fire on the ranges is still very evident , a bald look with a stubble of charred pencil trees standing lonely in once was forest. We laid out clothes selecting wool long sleeves heavy soled boots, tried on our new beaut face masks made adjustments, checked the app repeatedly, listened to ABC radio, drank cups of tea, ate some dinner, gave everything a good soaking and went to bed. In the middle of the night a fierce Roaring woke us – on our bedroom verandah facing west we came to the realisation that we could hear the Fire. Kinda like sitting in a 747 revving up on the tarmac maybe louder. Hopped in the car and beetled out of our forest through Christa’s paddocks to vechiles, a ridge top with views east south west ,meeting our neighbour Keith Fish out for a look. The sky was lurid- oranges pinks yellows blacks – a sickening mix and swirl of colours that looked wrong maybe 25-30 km west of us- a monster blaze – huge flames visible. I don’t know what we discussed with Keith – good luck probably fingers xxx, back to bed and sleep. Waking again around 4 am – another listen – yep still roaring though perhaps not as loud ,another drive out to vechiles – this time the sky a murky blanket , activity difficult to spot and for those brief moments I thought that the blaze has gone behind Wandella mountain away from us and our valley. Wrong wrong wrong. I checked fires near me.com saw the evacuation alert for Cobargo – rang the daughters – leave now. There had been no preparation for this , no inkling that a village could or would go up in flames. The baby was only 2 weeks old. And so through fire and flames on either side of the road the two families along with hundreds of other people made their way to Bermagui. There beside the ocean under a malevolent sky and air so putrid with smoke that breathing was difficult they were befriended and given a place to stay. Kind souls poured out of their homes to help the refugees. Even now we all experience a timeless disassociation where we cannot fit the events into a linear time frame, where our trauma racked minds and bodies slide off images and grasp uselessly at memories that float just out of reach. Satisfied they were safe – little did we know the fire was already eating the village of Cobargo – we decided on a cuppa and toast rather than bed but before we could raise a cup John felt the pull to start the pump down at the dam and I masked up. By the time John returned hoses were squirting water onto our verandahs and fires were slowly creeping into our bush munching ferns grasses vines, whooshing up trunks of trees, crackling snapping rumbling. A few times I crept down the track from the house to watch the fires journey on the other side of the dam. There is a fascination with fire –it is a mystery, a wonder, an attraction, something impels us to move closer to it – we cannot grab it but within its flames are worlds dreams and visions that beckon some primal instinct within us. And yet when we get too close it becomes a menace a monster a flaming scary beast. The shack near the dam caught alight- windows shattering metal roof screaming – a motorbike in cold storage exploded – and so the fire moved inexorably closer and closer engulfing everything in its path. The house filled with smoke – I realised that if the fire didn’t get me asphyxiation might. I had heard the stories of oxygen being sucked out of the air ahead of the fire and how the very air can combust far in advance of flames and heard too of firestorms that are like tornadoes twisting and uprooting trees cars buildings and flinging them for miles. We watered as the fire rained down upon our home ;embers flying, gardens and sheds burning, gas bottles exploding. I had lit a candle on the altar, incense and prayed – ask and ye shall receive it is said and so it is and so it was that I was answered held and safe. I am not an island alone eking out a physical existence – there is a whole journey behind and ahead of me , lineages of ancestors and wisdom keepers, a universal web of connections to which I and You belong. If it was my time to depart then I would not be writing this story – instead I lived to tell the tale again; with deep deep gratitude in my heart and body for still having this shelter, this beautiful mud brick castle I call home – this beautiful family of friends children grandchildren, this beautiful forest that burnt and lives regenerating generously with grasses vines flowers and plants I have never ever seen before. I take the example of this forest and apply it to my life – its capacity to hold and to give, its courage and humility, its fearlessness and innate strength of Being,
One year on : still dwelling in a choppy sea of emotions as we make our way , as we endeavour to return to lives forever changed by this experience. If there are lessons to be learned from this it is about how we care for each other and how we care for the earth. There is no separation – as we do to each other so we do to the Earth. There has been enough cruelty and suffering. We know we can do better; that we are light as well as dark and bloom best under kindness and good will . This new year let us reflect on the light we see within each other on the care we take with each other and the love we share.
Frankie is seriously kooky a character actor a ragtag fun charged giggle expert at play . At four and a half she says ‘when I grow up I want to be a Koala’. well ‘hallelujah’ I say. At last, at long last perhaps the tide is turning and humanity is growing up.
She wants to be a koala not a pop star or a teacher, not a doctor or engineer, not a pilot banker or farmer . Among all the influences of her first four years it is Koala that grabs her attention. We guess she will grow out of this notion but what a great aspiration, what a truth of the relevance importance significance and worthiness of our Kin. There is some thing irresistibly sweet about this that amid the drama acting out increased weaponisation of space land and sea, this solid determination to be enemies, a small child sees another picture. One in which we share the planet with the koala in which there is no divisive separation, no compelling reason not to choose a life among the tree tops; hanging around in the fork of a branch chewing eucalyptus leaves.
Life is lived in these moments the moment when we see inside the joy of another when it comes bursting out and knocks our senses with its purity.
I love that I am witness to the comings goings and doings of the many Beings that have no vote no pension card no shares no credit card.
The gate of our enclosed vege garden was left open and while we were busy with our lunch two goannas ventured in. Fat guts as Greg calls it (featured below) chases the smaller goanna around -trampling the peas broadbeans silver beet carrots cabbages and broccoli- absolute wreckheads round and round lifting their heads up against the wire trying to find the way out. John places a duck egg outside the gate – we sit and watch – eventually fat guts lumbers out and snaffles the egg – no breakage – down in one.
Thank you Rob Parnell who captured this pic last weekwhile he and Glenda were staying with us.
I have to pinch myself sometimes that I have this ringside seat even when they are in destructor mode , even when the fairy wrens drive us bonkers pecking all day at the windows and some unknown ( wallaby or was it possum?) scoffs the carnation seedlings even in these moments it is a joy to be face to face with indigenous Earth natives.
Here they are going about business of life on earth; so too Frankie – doing what she does best – playing/Being the child and curiously highlighting an uncharted field of possibilities for human aspirations. What a grace to offer to hard wired domesticated grown ups. Somewhere within us- the child the wild the spirit – yearns to explore this sweetness of life unencumbered by the restrictive mores of a society modelled on dubious ideals.
Lead the way young ones- we have much to learn yet.
it doesn’t matter how it was done what matters is how we do it now.
so many perspectives now of how we view the world – from the air we look down onto countries cities streets homes oceans rivers valleys. we can zoom in for detail – count the dots on a butterflies wing or out for long views of lava spilling over mountain sides. from the ocean we look back towards land – the curve of a coastline – shapes folds harbours river mouths and hills. and space shows a spinning blue orb . our capacity to see our world keeps changing and so too our view of our Selves.
What can we learn from this ability ? that there is always another angle another glimpse another possibility. no matter how we peer into the minutiae we cannot ever see the entirety, no matter the video cam on the spotted owl or the tracker on the koala there will always be more we do not know than what we think we know. some call this The Mystery.
How are you doing with this covid dance a la 2020? protests pop up in places masks mandatory or not tests and statistics define our mornings harried health professionals frowning conspiracies too numerous to elaborate on everyone has an opinion.
is it a wake up call? an alarm? a death sentence? is it a hollywood movie and we actors with the script already written?
Spring equinox : dear friends visit and the young king turns ten. the family gathers to wander the damp trails of a wetland, stop for a picnic and kick a ball .Ten years old he grows lean and and tall, keenly interested in nature . The next generation of grandbabies are all girls- squealing laughing playing hard.
The season is warm and rain has been friendlier. The forest a sea of dead black trees with life burgeoning up trunks and on limbs of some. I can still see through it- the far hills of the valley plainly visible, so too the cows in the neighbouring paddocks – all this was once obscured by a rich understory. The casurinas and bush cherry start their growth cycle from the beginning. I understand that I will be compost before I see them again in their full glory.
Whales play along the coastline unaware of masks and restrictions on land mindful of plastics hooks lines and sounds that shatter their sense of direction.
Drones take over the skies spying out newsworthy stories owning our privacy, everyone needs to know social media determines the value.
In this neck of the universe we hug cry and hold each other, united in our grief for all that we have lost bonded in our gratitude for what we still have- companionship generosity and loving-kindness.
My friend picks up a vacuum cleaner from the relief centre a donation her house home beautiful garden is gone her ancestor’s keepsakes photographs and kitchen utensils. remarkably she is cheerful and pragmatic, with her husband they are building again slowly.
The bushfire inquiries release their findings burn burn burn, more burning they say not less, not never again. as if this will help as if this force of nature can be deployed in this manner and we not get burnt as if any of the forces of nature – air water earth coal uranium can be contained and not come back to bite us.
What message this equinox my friends? What can we glean from the bones of fires death and virus? What do all these things have in common?
Now there’s a thread to follow – like Alice down the rabbit hole into the hallucinogenic world of talking caterpillars smoking pipes – we can be big and we can be small.
I have taken up visible mending – worn to be seen -to be noticed a stitch in time they say, this is the time for that seed to be ignited – weaving our beauty love compassion strength integrity into tomorrow – starting today- this equinox when light balances dark we can mend something a hole in a sock, a loss in our neighbourhood, a friendship, a garden,a path,a fence,a picture, we are menders fixers creators visionaries. lets not wait for tomorrow mend something today.
Black swamp wallaby pauses
ears twitch head turns.
what do you observe my friend?
what approaches ?
standing on tippy toes it snavels the bird seed.
A virus disrupts the world
spreads its vaporous claim over all
grinding the machine to a halt.
Here in the forest black trunks sprout green leaves cutty grasses vines ferns pokeroot and tiny tree seedlings
thicken and swell over charcoal ground,
great emptiness where once life thrived.
Every day demands my attention in a new way.
how easy life was before new years eve
when the forest was vibrant fecund bustling with lives,
snorting weaving nesting whistling burrowing plodding napping bounding chortling
I was able to wallow in their field of busyness
heart immersed in their stories
delighting in their families.
They were my narrative my kin my foundation
post fire I am stripped raw with grief,
heart sore for all that is lost-
peppermint sheoak bush cherry and ancient angophoras
wrens honeyeaters red neck wallabies…
I follow fox ,why are you barking ?
where are you going?
your family are they alright?
I worry over baits and guns.
hello sleepytime bush
you have returned
so many medicines lost
so many lives.
Still, burrows are being dug
nesting sites explored,
goanna wombat skink turtle bandicoot echidna come to tell me they are here.
I am grateful many kin have survived and our work continues,
greeting the sun
kissing the earth
lifting our faces to sky rain and lightning
shivering shaking twitching singing grumbling snoring blinking
dancing life on earth.
I am the less for this tragedy
yet I have to be greater,
to keep singing their Being
honouring their Song
their return after fire.
The virus is unmaking our world
yet unmaking has a most worthy purpose,
every hand; every knitter sewer hat maker artist sculptor cook understands
that there are times when we have to undo and re make.
Sometimes the mistake turns out to be a blessing showing us a better way .
In the early lockdown (which passed unnoticed in the forest)
a friend talked of how eerie it was to hear no traffic,
the air was clearer and birdsong sweeter.
‘I think I hear the Earths heartbeat’, she said.
This could be hope full
and gave me pause to imagine,
perhaps people were tuning in to a deeper resonance
of earth and heart ……. earthearthearthearthearthearthearth
Sunday in May. I pause at the kitchen window, gaze out over my forest domain; a bounding moving shape catches my eye. Although it left its’ mothers’ pouch this summer I still know it as the Baby. It is zooming around leaping onto a fallen log disappearing in the brush appearing again the other side of the rusty burnt out van, another fast circle and abruptly stops. Mum comes into view already carrying a tiny new model in her pouch. She is in no hurry nibbling sweet green shoots. Early morning sunlight streams into a sleepy world still autumn deep in shadowy places, last nights dew sparkles on the tall grasses and leaves of the aspiring return of growth. In among the burnt forest still trembling on the edge of recovery or Not, three black swamp wallabies( an adolescent young male frisky with hormones comes into view) go about their Busy ness.
The question I had been pondering this morning over my bowl of porridge and not for the first time …….How on earth did they survive – the wallaby the snake ( sightings of red belly black and diamond python) the echidna, the goanna ( the big ancient one and a young fella) the bandicoot, birds ; when there is not a skerrick of unburnt land for miles around me, not a patch here in my 80 acres of forest or next door in Keiths or Patricks. Except for our house and they did not come in here.
I call this place an ark do I not as in an ark of possibilities for living in some other way – without locks or keys or alarm systems, without flush toilets, without dependency on the electricity grid And with Earth Bird Bee Animal and Other. What did the snakes and goannas do holed up in their hollow logs when the logs caught on fire? Perhaps like the stories I used to tell Kingston the wombat burrow attracted and became a refuge for forest creatures that crammed in and waited out the fire??? The stories always started ‘Once upon a time there was a little boy and his name was Kingston john who lived in a beautiful forest with all his kin. One day Kingston john and his friend Wa wa ( aka black swamp wallaby) decided to visit wombat.’ These stories often involved rescue missions/ magical tales that he joined in with as he grew older. Visiting wombat was about learning from a wise one who offered sage advice, blackberry cordial and scones. An Other explanation???
It took water (lots) hoses pumps face masks for John and I to stop the fire from taking our house. Perhaps some of the animals jumped in a dam doggy paddling round and round and round until the fire front passed. But then what?
The fires continued, trees burning for weeks, hot ashes everywhere, scorching beds of coals, thick choking smoke fumes . Can a snake or a skink slither over hot coals? And how about the teeny feet of skink or echidna?
It is still a mystery to me serving to remind of the intelligence wisdom resilience of creatures to survive and adapt. And to honour the potential for magic and miracle.
Their food sources were obliterated and our bird population has been drastically reduced. For weeks we put out food; pellets sweet potato carrots , fruit hanging in trees and maintained water stations. We noticed wallabies hobbling with burnt feet and one day I came across a charred body and have since found some bones. They say over 1 billion animals ( does this include birds) died in this summers fires. Seeing the exuberant play this morning was a gift in a time when grief is still raw and tender. Yesterday I discovered a newly made burrow, a large earthworks of a very big wombat. The size of the tunnel tells us the size of the maker of the burrow not necessarily who might be living there. I went back this morning and the very big wombat was poised at the entrance to greet me. Young fella wombat has been observed renovating a bank in the gully below the dam. This gully whose aspirations to become a rainforest has suffered a severe set back. In the early weeks after the fire young womby hid out under our bedroom verandah occasionally joining its mum and her new bubba in her burrow.
For so many this summer the world was turned upside down.
When I see the wild creatures going about their Business I offer up thanks for this glimpse into their world, taking note of their healthy appearance, their capacity to endure play and Be. Today in this moment my forest domain is safe; the ark is fulfilling its mission of providing home and refuge, home for Other, home for Being to thrive.