and it is up to me to stay in tune

 

Some times or rather some days I think that I live in Paradise

Other moments I wonder how the hell to get out of this disaster area of the universe.

Depends,

Depends on the thoughts cruising thru my mind, the feelings lodged in my body, the book I am reading, the news I have heard, any number of things and equably none of them.

Next door lives a farmer, his family has been around this valley for a few generations but I am catching up now that Kingston has moved in.

They cleared the land, made fence posts out of red gums and burnt the rest- rubbish they call it.

What trees did survive by some fluke were ring barked and now they die.

They are cow farmers ,beef not milk and they work hard,

chasing their cows ‘hup hup hup’ waving sticks herding them to the yards where they lock up the mums who cry for their babies or lock up the babies who cry with their mums .

that can go on day and night for three days.

It is torture but they call it farming.

 

They also like to shoot…

kangaroo wombat rabbit duck wallaby and anything else that dares to cross their bare paddocks.

The whole family mum dad and the kids get out  with cousins and friends and Utes with lights and any sort of calibre gun.

They  can shoot for hours.

It is loud in our forest and in our house.

We do not sit comfortably when it is happening

but we all have rights eh .

That is the mantra .

We can all do what we want according to law

but the law does not necessarily serve those without a voice, without a vote like the wattle or the centipede.

 

in here I walk , stopping to hug the  kurrajong in full lemon flower.

I scan the wild cherry trees for ripe berries.

I pick up scribbly bark and try to read its poem.

I crunch over sticks and curly leaves thru fern and candle flowers over fallen mossy logs pushing past the cutty grass and the vines that have come to stay.

a forest humming with diversity,

an evolving situation and possible paradise.

 

looking out the lounge window early this morning we see a red necked wallaby with a bubba leaning languidly out of the pouch.

she is sniffing at our latest enclosure trying to find the way in thru the fishing net. I noticed her scats in there a day or so ago .

she gives up, perhaps because she can feel us gorking at her.

 

we have identified a new arrival, the spotted turtle-dove,

a pair of them dagging around in our garden for a few days in their dusky pinkish brown coat with the crazy black and white spotted collar on the back of their necks.

 

the visual feasts that make up my day are many,

the auditory field  that my body falls into from the dawn chorus to the last hurrah and on thru the night with owl fox glider possum  is as fine a symphony as has ever played.

no human voice  can match the melody of the grey shrike thrush, the piping tune of the butcher bird.

no  instrument can play the caroling rhapsody of the magpie or the sweet chatter of the parrots.

this sweeping earth opera from wren to currawong includes  breezes from other places ,scuffles bounces thumps slaps of feet and tail on earth , leaf whispers, bees blissing on blossoms, claws clicking on bark underscored by the sensual slither of snake.

 

there is never not a moment of life breathing.

always life living, replenishing going about the business of evolution.

always a flower tumbling to the ground from the height of the canopy.

a seed unfurling

a worm burrowing

a frog swimming

ant building

turtle basking

lizards walking over my toes.

 

always within a plenty full forest  is colour and vibrancy,  music and passion,

birth death and renewal.

it is into this wonder that I wake each day

into this paradise.

and even though the world intrudes upon our boundaries and our neighbours pick up guns

and even though the radio squeaks of horrors happening

the song of life never misses a beat

and it is up to me  to stay in tune.

there are centuries of stories about people that have upset the apple cart

it’s no use trying to change what we cannot change

or is it?

there are centuries of stories about people that have upset the apple cart,

martyrs activists heroes revolutionaries warriors tyrants,

about ordinary and extraordinary folk that took a stand and challenged the beliefs of the day.

the beatles sang  ‘ we all want to change the world”

and it is.

lets face it,hitler changed the world , a tsunami can change the world,

changing the world isn’t even the hard part

but in which direction do we want to go ?

 

where once forest existed now bare hills and no animals

where once creeks  flowed now suburbs and drainage pipes

where once we sang our devotions at the altar of nature now we kneel in front of a guy tortured to death on a cross

and in the final irony, he has saved us.

 

technology was going to save us

from long hours

reduce our work loads give us more leisure.

instead it can be a full-time job keeping up with your emails

with social media communication.

how many hours on Facebook ? on twitter?

how many hours driving?

how many hours in front of a screen ?

 

I am sitting here writing,

the wind is roaring thru the trees

the kitchen door is banging against its latch

the roof is creaking and shifting in the hot sun.

birds are doing their twittering

snakes are ambling somewhere

seeds are pushing thru the soil.

in the shade wallabies are scratching

and lizards saunter under my feet .

certainly a different world to the one my grandmother grew up in

different and the same.

 

civil rights movements and revolutions ended  slavery  but that’s not strictly true

we know otherwise don’t we?

we know about the shocking conditions and abysmal wages of people who make the goods sold to us in our shops

our shoes and our chocolate,our clothing

the fall apart planned obsolescent trinkets and gadgets.

 

what is really happening?

one in four  is sexually abused

one in four has  mental issues

one in four is depressed

one in four has cancer

one in four one in three  one in two

whatever the maths, there is a problem.

 

men women and children end their lives

men women and children pick up weapons and take other lives.

despite all the united agencies all the charities starvation and war  continues .

despite all the environmental safeguards more and more unholy poisons contaminate our earth

despite all the best intentions the plunder of the planet steams ahead.

 

the level of affluence in this land is absurdly high

there are multiple TVs in each home, multiple laptops ,multiple cars.

we can have anything  and even if we don’t have the cash we can borrow it

with a plastic card, it is ours.

not a problem.

 

how can the forest flourish when we need so much?

how can the river flow when megalitres  is pumped into a mono culture system ?

how can  creatures survive  when we constantly take away their habitat?

how come they have habitat and I have a home?

how come I am more important and my needs come first?

 

some say we witness

some say we petition

some say we pray

some say we go quietly about our business making another template for life to dwell in.

 

so maybe it is worth trying, worth believing worth fighting for,

maybe if we explore the essential nature of ourselves

the world will act differently,

maybe if we attend to the revolution of heart and spirit

the world will be a different kettle of fish.

in the cold cold wind we thread our way from story stone to story stone

 
 
the courtship of the black snakes continued into the next day,
they moved closer into something resembling a  celtic knot that quivered and vibrated
for a very long time.
snake passion
watch out, kundalini is on the move
sex is in the air.
 
I was climbing Goolaga mountain at the time of  these goings on,
walking the sacred path
panting,  stopping often to look out to ocean and lakes, paddock houses and Bermagui in the distance,
identifying plants fondling them, 
listening to the lyrebird run thru its repertoire.
Zoe up ahead not panting
John peeling oranges for those sweet bursts of  energy .
 
observing the changes post fire post floods.
a few years ago  a hazard reduction burn  by forestry or farmer or national parks ,
(they all love doing it never realising that they are the greater hazard to  us and the planet)
and unbelievably  it  got away.
yes I am indulging in sarcasm 
they get away all the time and they blame lightning .
I am sensitive about the issue of fire, logging and what I see as disrespect of this planet
my home.
but all of us carry something do we not?
 
 
 
anyway the fire escaped and ran from the valley to the mountain threatening my friends homes and the village of Tilba. 
what to do ?
mobilise the forces
get out the high vis
and drop  bombs all over the mountain to stop the fire.
 
hello!!!!!!!
does this sound sane? 
is it?
 no and no again.
I am surrounded by idiots who believe that fire is the way to protect us ,
year after year usually in autumn though often spring I live in a smoke laden atmosphere  as they bomb thousands of hectares of wild forest to stop them being a possible wildfire threat.
year after year the death toll of the wild goes uncounted  unrecorded and forgotten.
 
back at home Greg spotted  another couple making love 
that’s two pairs of red belly black snake sexing
and then later in pouring rain  they were treated to another performance of the ritual dance of male combat
just outside the kitchen window.
 
never  before have we seen so much snake activity 
year of the dragon?? 
a big spring?? 
what why now?
these are questions that identify we live within the mystery.
 
meanwhile in sunshine a few miles away with no sign of rain we have made our way to the teaching place of the mountain.
we have eaten our cheese and chutney sandwiches sitting at the table in the cold cold  wind.
we tie  red wool around our heads as a symbol of respect  and step onto a hidden track, 
we amble  thru the dense scrub and come  out into a more open area made up entirely of  gigantic standing stones and a few trees.
 
in some configurations  huge tors balance precariously on top of each other
others have shapes resembling the being or ancestor that they are.
all with a teaching,  a lore that tells  the people how to conduct their lives
that gave the people their identity
their  connection to the dreaming of the creator.
 
I clap us in , a knock on the door to let spirit know we are here 
and we wander around,
touching feeling praying singing the songs, 
honouring the ancestors ,
the journey. 
in the cold cold wind we thread our way from story stone to story stone
as many before us have done, as many after us will do.
 
John and I share with Zoe other meetings with the mountain, 
walking from our home for several days to be  here
walking from our home to witness  friends marrying
walking off the track and finding a place totally draped in lacey lichen and lit with a golden light,
of filling our water bottles from  high up in the rainforest to make our flower essences.
 
many stories many journeys 
always a treat ,a transformation
always empowering 
always a pilgrimage
and always just here.
 
we came home to the latest snake story
and rain that went on for days
soaking our garden and forest and filling our tanks .
 
 
 
 
 

it is like living with the void, life with kingston john

At last the rain came,

the tank had been cleaned out for ages

The birds had to go elsewhere for their bathing and drinking.

I missed them.

There is something about sitting on the verandah and watching the yellow-eared honeyeaters dip into the tank , splash about , give a  flick or two and then hop  onto a branch of the Datura shaking water off.

The tank is essential habitat for the birds and the skinks and us. there was a mob of tadpoles in it that had to be caught and transported to another pond when we cleaned it out. Kingston took this job very seriously and likes to sit on a rock near the pond looking , the water is so algae green and thick that visibility is mostly non-existent but already he knows the story of the tadpole that becomes a frog.

He has taken to singing, broadcasting songs  around the house as he moves from one activity to another.

A mix of old MacDonald and twinkle twinkle this morning ,the melodies seamlessly blending  together .

If you ask him about his singing he goes all shy and stops.

Best to ignore him.

Best to ignore them a lot of the time.

That’s when their best play is happening,

when they are absorbed in their own world.

 

It is like living with the void,

life with Kingston John

a warriors challenge.

I can only say thank you.

You might think you know him and what he is capable of but that is just having yourself on.

In the blink of a breath he can morph into a new behavior a never seen before pattern and run with it.

The other day out of the blue he snatched a little paper booklet out of my basket on the verandah, a little tome that identifies the koori understanding of the essence of some of our native animals.

He  snatched it and ran hell for leather to the toilet.

I was a bit slow to get his drift, my jaw cranked open in disbelief.

he had a head start little legs pumping hard,  determined and  laughed wickedly  when I shouted hey and gave chase.

The only saviour to the situation was that as he entered the toilet he met  John ready to leave. That stopped him in his tracks long enough for me to wrestle the book off him.

all the time tickled pink at this great idea he almost carried out.

 

Yesterday Kingston was helping Greg make lunch and gave his signature …uh uh uh uh uh… pointing outside. Greg yells out snakes, and we race into the kitchen and line up at  the window .

two big red belly black snakes were writhing  around all over  the yard down past the lemon tree.

Coiling twisting sliding and raising their glistening bodies up off the ground ,their heads going at each other, the vigorous movements of two males having a set to at the start of the breeding season .

the dance of ritual combat ,all about impressing the sheila.

was she watching?

We did, and initially thought they were making out ,

but then I remembered  seeing two black snakes coiled together on our fence line last spring tying each other in knots and  vibrating ,a much more contained energy.

apparently it is about getting ones head higher than the other ,something like mine is bigger than yours.

Not just humans huh.

Jess said,oh my god they are huge and  Kingston plays out there.

I’ve got goose bumps and she wandered off not wanting to see anymore.

Yes he does and so did she .

Jess her sisters and friends and umpteen children over 30 odd years have played here, in the garden and in the forest.

building cubbies,climbing trees, not bothering with shoes, not bothered by snakes or ticks or leeches or spiders.

wholly absorbed in the world of play,

all the time surrounded by other creatures going about their business and not showing the least bit of interest.

well most of them, the ticks and leeches are fairly keen on having a go at us.

later  that evening again from the kitchen windows we observed  the male swamp wallaby with the one fat cheek nibbling grass in close to the house.

The other day Zoe  was sitting in the wisteria arbour and he jumped in and started eating the blossoms , she claims to have  video evidence.

the mama wallaby turned up as well,  the little fella  poking its head out of the pouch and reaching down to tear up blades of grass .

Kingston didn’t know which one to look at, running from one window to the other carting his yellow chair.

Look how well behaved they are ,which translated  means, eating what we approve of …

Now look mum.

Oh dear there was  fat one cheek sampling the lemon tree leaves.

I went out and gave him a talking to .

Did  he hear me?

Did he care ?

that’s life in the forest , creatures have a mind of their own just like Kingston just like you and  me,

our only hope is that we can all find a way to  get on together.

 

P.S.

today Greg spotted  two black snakes calmly loitering around near the lemon tree.

not touching, not yet but courtship perhaps.

the victor remains , the other vanquished

a new season of black snake life is about to begin.

 

into the water she slipped oh nameless blue boat

This week we celebrated two birthdays.

The time of the Librans one day after the other.

First Zoe on Thursday turning 26,

a few days earlier she arrived out of the blue although she said she had told her dad she was coming but  somehow that info didn’t quite get received.

John  had to take the boat trailer up to Narooma  for a blue slip rego check so we decided to meet up at Taylor Bros for birthday lunch.

He brought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough Sounds and that went down perfectly with our fish, chips  and salad on the deck.

After wards we basked in the hot hot sun on the shore of Wagonga lake .

8 candles were lit  on the fudgey chocolate cup cakes Jess had made that morning and we sang a happy birthday to Zoe song.

Kingston played in the shallows in the way Zoe and her sisters  had some 20 odd years  earlier.

The circles of life turn and turn again.

It was a bit of a  family tradition to come and hire a boat from the two grumpy old men that were the original Taylor Bros. They are long gone now but happy memories of our playing here remains.

We would all pile in an old clinker and putter up the to the far reaches of the inlet past the oyster leases and back down as far as the bridge with the dragon under it,trailing our fingers thru the water   dreaming the dreams of ocean and fish and mermaid.

John went off to complete trailer business so Zoe and I checked out the op shops.

Jess and Greg and bub went on to Bega to meet her dad who has come to stay with Elsie Rose for a week. must be the time of year for family gatherings something to do with renewal no doubt.

it may be that Zoe is the only person in Australia to own a stoat box, found in the secondhand store on the hill .

I am not sure why it is called a box when it is more of a case ,made of wood  with a top that half of which  hinges open to reveal a small cavity.

But what’s it for? I asked.

For hunting the lady tells us, the stoat goes in there to take it hunting.

Well knock me down with a feather.

How does it breathe is my next question and do they really like dark confined spaces?

Zoe has to buy it, after all she has just bought herself an apartment in St. Kilda  and obviously a stoat case is an essential item.

Well I could put potatoes in it she said or …  anything really.

It is beautifully made 19 inches long 5 inches deep and 10 inches wide, all separate pieces of polished wood joined together impeccably .

A very old metal clasp closes it.

It is unique and I have been trying to imagine a stoat in it but …

Zoe has always loved from the very big to the very small,  as a toddler she would eat her porridge with the tablespoon or use the tiny tiny silver spoon, nothing in-between will do , which means a stoat box is a perfect companion .

Then  John on Friday turning 65 .

we all had our fingers crossed but still weren’t sure if we were sailing or not.

this was Johns dreaming ,

we were organised, I was picnic ready and  just waiting the signal.

John got up very early to complete the mission and mission it had been , months of restoration; of scraping and varnishing , replacing and renewing, painting and fixing until  by morning tea time pancakes he pronounced it a goer.

Hurray !!!

The day unlike the intense heat of the day before was cool to cold, cloudy and blanket grey with no wind.

We drove  to Beauty Point on Wallaga Lake where we have sailed before albeit many years ago.

We sat at the picnic table and ate the spanakopita I had made the day before with salad and Turkish bread rolls.

The spinach pie was extremely good and I wonder why it had been so long since I had made one.

Into the water she slipped oh nameless blue boat.

We clambered on board tipping and squealing and left the shore,only to discover that the wine cork  John had used instead of a bung was leaking.

Zoë came to the rescue placing her hand over  the offending leak and holding it there awkwardly among a lot of giggles some of which were hysterical but we won’t name names .

we made it to the other side of the lake , John jumped out went ashore and came back with a stick.

The stick was put in place  and Zoë got her arm back.

Kingston and I sat up the front on the deck , he prattled away none stop already a sure sailor.

he ate two oranges, made me sing him row row your boat 100 times and christened granddads boat with two wees.

I suggested holding him at the edge to pee overboard but was met by derisive laughter that still continues and has grown bigger in the telling.

stories of me stretching his peer over the side which isn’t at all what I  was intending  but they will have their fun, this mob.

Jess sprawled over  the middle bench where she breathed and coached herself towards relaxation. successfully too.

Greg moved from the bench  to the floor to keep out of the way of the pole at the bottom of the sail that swings wildly at times when catching winds.

Zoe was on the back seat and John  with her holding  a rope in one hand guiding the sail and a tiller in the other though occasionally the rope would be thrust at Zoe while he managed something else.

It was cold and the lake was a grey day green.

We rocked around bobbing up and down ever so gently and not really going anywhere; it was a long time returning to the place we had left from.

We passed a sand spit where pelicans stood, we watched kids towed behind a speedboat, other boats zoom by to a cove to lay anchor and cast out a line.

we looked up at  sea eagles circling and all the time Gulaga Mountain lay quietly shrouded in mist .

Why can’t you just point it where we want to go? asked Zoë, because it doesn’t work like that ,John said.

You have to catch the wind so that it sends you there.

It is a different way of going somewhere or maybe it isn’t about going anywhere at all, maybe it is about surrendering to the elements and going where they will.

Still the cup of tea and baklava that I had made as birthday cake were calling and bit by bit John maneuvered  the sail the wind and the boat closer and closer.

About 100 metres out he resorted to Zoë’s paddle that she uses for her SUP board and rowed us in.

It was a  wish wished by John

a dream come true to celebrate the 65  years with a sail.

He pulled it off.

he took his family out for an  adventure introducing us to the sailing away for year and a day to the space  where anything goes.

 

 

it is such a wild idea, the sourdough one

 

Somewhere around five of the clock dawn becomes available , tweets and twitters start up.

the day is undetermined greyish and new.

Getting out of under the doona of dreams is the hardest part, the feet swinging to the ground making contact with the world of 3D doings .

up until that point one has the choice to snuggle back in  and return to the dream  .

 

I padded out to the kitchen this dawn started up Stanley filled the kettles leaving  the vent open to get it happening.

I unfolded the  yoga mat and began slowly stretching ;  the fingers arms shoulders neck, the toes feet ankles knees legs, the back the front , a salute to the sun and a prayer of thanksgiving  for the unfolding day.

The house  still quietly  dreaming.

My favourite parcel of the day.

The dawn shift, the early morning stirring to make its stamp on the world.

The kettles begin their dance  and I fold up the mat.

 

A big brown sourdough loaf sits on the bench waiting.

I make the first cuts and place the thin slices on Stanley.

Some people have toasters

we have a hot plate.

 

Bec started the sourdough culture  a few months ago and has been the resident bread baker until she went off  in her mazda for a cosmic trip.

John  bread baker in a previous incarnation before boat builder and before bikie picked up the culture and

put a loaf in the oven last night after dinner . it cooked while we watched a movie.

 

It is such a wild idea, the sourdough one, a culture created by hanging around outdoors in forest or garden in  daytime  or moonlight and pluck passing wild yeasts from out of the air.

how peculiar .

how organic.

how wild.

And then along come human hands that knead and mould  it bringing a collaboration to the table.

I imagine that  when we eat  and the sharp sour flavours burst into my  mouth with a tang and a shriek that I can hear stories told of sunlight dancing on water, snakes sliding thru blackberry, lizards basking on steps and kookaburras laughing.

 

John rises claims his teapot and toast, adds  sardines chives a squeeze of lemon juice and heads back to bed.

I do the 2012  lime marmalade on my toasted crust and join him.

The early cuppa is  sacred business,  to be savoured and not rushed, to be tender with not brusque ,

to be with.

.

We watch the usual array of honeyeaters darting in and out of the giant callistamen busy busy in their gentle song filled way.

I am reminded to add song to my day, to add voice in loving tones to the pattern emerging,

to add joy in equal measure.

By the time the sun glints a little into the forest  I am in the garden pulling out old  blackberry canes and clearing timbers left over from the solar switchboard renovations.

Kingston escapes the house wearing two beanies, his sandals and his lime green  dressing gown. He follows me around chatting effortlessly continuously and helps to stack the timbers on a wall in the carport.

 

After a bit Jess joins us and we clear  the stinging nettle away from the lemon tree, not clear clear but enough to give it  a good move on . Thanks to Carole and her  sheep manure we have never been short of stinging nettle.

It has got so that you cannot pick a lemon without getting zapped.

Not that I mind it that much, in fact it is a kind of interesting sensation .

While I was getting nettled this morning because lets face it even a long sleeved shirt and gloves are no real barrier to the formic acid doing its thing,  I dreamed up a pie featuring  nettles and potatoes.

known as  urtica urens  nettle is highly nutritious contains a huge amount  of protein as well heaps of iron and chlorophyll , sounds too good not to eat and  I know this  is  pretty weird  but Glenda and I have been known to rub it into our finger joints and believe that it helps alleviate  the stiffness .

So after it got too hot to work in the garden I went into the kitchen, made some pastry and filled it with shallots found under the lemon tree, mushroom found in the coolroom, nettles and potatoes.

 

What can I say but, the pie was excellent .