[Update – here’s the audio version – https://soundcloud.com/user-226688431/055-sydney-art-shows-and-lush-forests]
A visit to my home town of Wodonga for a night with Dad, he was travelling to Wagga the next day so we decided to go at the same time and have lunch along the way, as I rumbled along the highway – his four wheel drive in the foreground – I took notice of the green hills all around, I don’t remember seeing the countryside so lush around here– then, childhood memories are generally more affixed on other things. We broke bread together on a park bench – a meal to satisfy the stomach and conversation to satisfy the heart. Next destination was Canberra, to visit Victoria as promised. The last time we met a short union as I hurriedly vacated the town in pursuit of adventure.
She had moved into a new place and I got to meet her housemates, I enjoyed the conversation and we seemed to have much in common, yet with this encounter and others there has been this little anxiety as I judge myself and compare in the lower depths of my mind – all the same trying so hard not to, at these times I feel split and find it hard to be comfortable. I’m learning that to face what comes up inside me, to calmly confront and allow these neurotic thoughts is a necessary tool to operate. If I can also imagine myself floating – be it air or water – muscles relax that to my surprise were tense, my awareness falls back into my body and I find that I can operate once again. This is a long process reverting decades of stress and fear – patience and persistence is paramount!
Outwardly however, in the ‘real’ world, everything was wonderful, Tori and I visited a waterfall and hung out on the cliff edge. I’m so grateful to know this woman and spend time in her presence, our conversations are so revolutionary and always upbeat. We reminisce with glee our first meet at a poetry slam, by in moment action when Kyra, Tori and myself stood in place of a judge that had left the pub in search of other entertainment, the three of us became the one generous critic taking over from the absentee.
Ever onward I sought my way to Sydney, stopping at pine forests seeking the large orange Saffron Milk Caps I so abundantly collected around Canberra, alas the breakfast fry accompaniment were not to be seen in the changing season. I drove on.
I would spend a few days in Sydney with another Victoria, and Bunk, two custodians of the Monastery I so oft visit. They were both exhibiting in an art show and I offered my services in dialogue, idle muscle and destroyer of electrical circuits. The show was called Dystopia, theming visions and definitions of post apocalyptical times – a rich sensory and social experience, we drank and revelled in the tapestries of human ability.
The day after the opening I unenthusiastically dragged body from bed and drove south to collect Felipe, we had breakfast at his place before heading to Mount Wilson high in the Blue Mountains. The camp site past a beautiful alpine town with history, the last building an old Turkish bath house from colonial times no doubt relished during icy winters.
We found a spot and set out to explore, beanies donned as the relative warmth of Sydney was far behind us. The edge of the forest a border of eucalyptus and brushy fern then steep decline into dark and quiet rainforest. Vines that were strong enough to hold our weight draped from the upper branches of tall trees, their trunks trailing into the bright cloudy sky as far as my eyes would take me. We crept down the steep slope toward the valley, our footprints cushioned by composting leaves.
Down into the valley, water trickled inexorably over polished black stone, their sheen and shape causing them to appear man made. Felipe and I hovered around a strange tree trunk the diameter of a basketball and to our surprise found it to be another hanging vine rising stories above us – we could push the rough climber and watch it ever slowly move to and fro, a swinging elephant of the forest.
Wherever I walked I could always pick out where Felipe was, the sound of the camera shutter like the ping from a sonar, his unending passion for photography such a driving force in my own visual world. To see colours, intensities of brightness, perspective, focus through his eyes is to really appreciate what comes into my own. The conversation of beauty in a scene and how to capture it an exciting challenge as I understood more of the craft.
The day after exploring the hidden beauty of Mount Wilson, Felipe and I drove back to his house, both excited about reviewing nature shots on a bigger screen. After another quick photo shoot in his garage studio we said goodbye to each other and I once again drove the long incline back to the Blue Mountains, this time Katoomba and some rainbow friends living happily in the waning winter.
I arrived at Ray and Charlie’s place before they did and was greeted by their housemate, we drank tea and awaited the duo. The front door opened, with arms wide and a smile I excitedly went to greet them – we shared dinner in front of a roaring fire and recounted adventures of post Tasmania.
That night I slept deeply on a futon in front of the amber red glow of the fading fire.
Up early, before the rest of the house, I took the opportunity to walk around their grounds with my camera and take some photos. The property was adorned by rare trees, numbered for reference and spotted across the grassy terraces. Rock walls that reminded me of Incan design retained multiple levels around the acreage and fathered a trickling freshwater spring. Across the road boasted another arborist’s oasis, a gravel path winding among the old trees – a glass paned hall sat quietly at the top of the sloping grove overlooking dozens of tall and rare floral species.
Another meal shared, the joy of communion and conversation, plans for the future and gratitude for the past. The present came where I said goodbye to my friends and put wheel to asphalt once again.