Dark clouds came over the town of Mullumbimby as I sought refuge, a place to stay for the night, a bed and roof over head – my backpack heavy on my shoulders. Sitting in a café was Iggy, a marvellous acquaintance struck months ago, I spoke of my station and he offered sanctuary – timely as the rain began to bucket.
I climbed in his four wheel drive – my wet pack resting in the boot – and we began to drive with the downpour. Through the front gate and along a tarred farm road until we reached the river crossing. Iggy stopped and looked uncertain, the water flowed quickly and deeply carrying small branches along with it – would we make it across? Out I stepped to discover the depth, although just above my knees the current prevented me from feeling safe on my feet.
We engaged four wheel drive and crept through the flux, the river offered no resistance to our path so we continued upward – the steep steep driveway giving majestic views to the surrounding mountains. After a brief foray over eroded dirt road we came to Iggy’s place, he had been living here tending the land in exchange for rent, his gardening method of throwing seeds produced a natural and wild vegetable patch, red cherry tomatoes stood out among the thick and tall grass as pumpkin vine spread its carpet of leaves.
It was still pouring with rain, we jumped out and bought bags indoors, Iggy stopped suddenly and exclaimed his laptop bag was missing – must be back at the café. As he climbed back in the car he said in his Spanish accent “Feel at home” and nodded toward the house. I stood on the veranda watching the 4WD race back down the hill.
I filled my water bottle from the rain pouring over the front sail veranda roof and looked around. Iggy’s home was a colourbond tin shed with interior converted to a warm inviting home. I could see his passion for carving wood with many walking sticks, staffs and soft sculptures around the main living area. In a kitchen up one end I prepared dinner.
Prep finished I sat down with a book, to receive a phone call from Iggy a few moments later. After finding the laptop safe and dry he made his way back only to find his car mysteriously stop a few minutes before the river – I walked the thirty minutes barefoot in the rain to meet him – his laptop under arm and wrapped in plastic – the river brown and perilous. Iggy found a rope and threw it to me, I walked upstream, held one end and threw it back. Now with my feet dug in to a protruding root the rope tightened and Iggy – as a human pendulum against the current – slowly edged his way to the other bank. Leaving the car far behind we both walked up the steep asphalt drive into the hills, and home.
We walked inside as Iggy’s pet chicken ‘Chooky’ made an appearance, a fluffy white Chinese Silkie now looking very punk rock from the rain. Chooky wandered back and forth on the porch, when a big gust of wind rattled his feathers he would jump and run around in circles wings flapping – we took momentary amusement at the act before giving weary legs a rest and empty stomachs a reprieve.
Through the night we spoke of personal experience through spirituality, life lesson and hilarious revelation. Iggy telling of intentional identity changes dissolving the vicelike grip of self image and emotional safety, his new project – Iggy Dundee. In research we put on a movie, Paul Hogan moved from scene to scene utterly confident and unwavering even though immersed in the chaotic contrast of New York City – a real education to see given perspective of previous discussion. To know (or play) who I am minus perceived judgement of social surroundings, I take lease to change how I appear to the world on a regular basis, burning through the fear of an image challenged by peers. Chooky now warm to my presence sat on my knee watching with us, a rooster’s crow thrown forth at inopportune time late at night.
We arose early the next morning and set for the car, down the steep steep decline barefoot but this time heavy pack shouldered gave challenge to legs and feet – over the river, out the front gate and along the main road to the temporarily immobile vehicle.
She turned over and the engine idled steadily, alas movement only to stop after a few metres, doors open, a heavy push to the side of the road once more. With pack returned to body we began the long walk into Mullumbimby.
Thumbs out at every opportune vehicle that passed we paced onward, our feet taking refuge on the grassy verge while we slowly passed farmhouses, traversed bridges and favoured shade from the intensifying sun.
Another hour later we gained transport, a couple new to the area took us the rest of the way, my body revelling in the cool sensation of air conditioning. The final fifteen minute walk but a thin slice of the mornings journey pie, we sat at the same café, ate and drank while our feet rested.
[Image credit – byronandbeyond.com]