By the way, I didn’t rip this growing beauty from the earth. I found it on our driveway and moved it to this piece of bark for the photo. There are a number of different fungi at last. Including these:
They are growing near the mycelium of Pyronema Omphalodes, the fungi that only fruits after fire. Is this the fruit? Anyone know? Please leave a comment.
There are good and bad days. Today is a lovely day, as most are lately. When I get the weeps it’s usually because I’m tired, or there is a lot to do and it feels a overwhelming. I often get anxious then too, and overreact to things. Unfortunately I find it somewhat embarrassing to weep all over people, and it almost feels like manipulation because they then feel bad too. Oh well. I guess we all just do what we can and it seems to get better all the time.
The Covid situation knocked the shit out of me at first. Partly because we shifted down to Middleton and back within the first three weeks of it, and although it was very good to be by the sea, it is not really our country, and it was a shitload of work physically and I didn’t have a lot of spare energy at the time. So I fell in a heap. But I wasn’t alone, a lot of people did at the time, and not only fire victims.
This week we move again, up to a rental property in Woodside. Woodside, for those of you who don’t know, is close to Lobethal, about ten minutes from our ‘block’.
This time our adult kids can help though, so moving shouldn’t be bad. And it’s a really nice house and garden. It is a Housing SA house but in really good nick and they have replaced the stinky carpet with vinyl and painted all the walls. They even put in blinds!
The housing trust was going to sell it but decided to offer it to someone who lost their home in the bushfires until they rebuild. We were extra lucky that I had just had a conversation with our case manager that went like this. ‘How is your unit?’ ‘Hmm’, I thought. ‘I wouldn’t exactly call it a unit,’ I said, ‘It is a really nice sealed shed with a kettle and a hot plate. We have to walk to the toilet in the house, but we have a sealed bucket for overnight.’ I saw her face fall, and thought, ‘Actually, this isn’t normal, is it?’ and within a week we had been offered the house. It is a bit more expensive than we thought we would have to pay at first, but they are helping us to (hopefully) get it reduced.
I have to sing the praises of the Recovery Centre. The staff are wonderful. They work really hard, and are all so helpful. It is well organised now, with permanent staff, so you don’t get shunted from person to person any more. You have a ‘case manager’, and ours is so good for us. I suppose they all are, they are really considerate and knowledgeable.
It will be lovely in the Woodside house, to have a bit of room and to start collecting the things we will need when we move into our new home. Also to take possession of our possessions, the ones people have given us and are holding. We will be able to take stock and see what we’ve got, because it is hard to remember what happened in the first couple of months. All I know for sure is that many many people love and care for us, and that they are so generous. The kindness and beauty of humans always makes tears flow, therefor, (just now) tears.
I will miss the bundles of liveliness that are our grandchildren. I love the thoughtfulness of them among other things, how they cut to the chase when they think you’re deluding yourself, and how funny they are, and fun. It has been wonderful to spend time with Hana and Evan also. To cook together and share family time. A real privilege, actually. In this society we all live so separately these days. Many grandparents don’t get to see their grandchildren in their natural environment, melting down over tech time, or having their hair blown dry. There’s so much tenderness and beauty in family life.
Also it is a privilege to watch Hana negotiate the road towards developing our house. The design, and the applications for development etc. It is complicated process and well over my head. She is doing a brilliant job. It will be quoted soon by a young builder friend who we love to death, and then we’ll see if we have to change things. The size of windows, for example. There is so much to think about, and I am incredibly thankful to Hana for all of the work she puts into it. She is also doing uni and was dealing with the kids home schooling for nearly a month. They are now back at school.
Of course designing a house is very exciting! Probably the last lot of plans will be through council in a month or so. And then we begin!
In the meantime I have managed to find the head space to do some ink play, and to learn to use all of these different tools that so many lovely people have given me. Tools are funny things. You have to develop a body knowledge of them. Also your workspace. So I find my self spending a lot of time thinking about how the hand works, where it expects to find the ink pot, or a brush, a million decisions that were second nature in my studios at home.
It is the same with everything. What your clothes feel like, how they look together, even which clothes are yours when you bring in the washing. It’s like I am discovering how to live with each object in my life. Some of them feel like they are mine, but many of them don’t. It’s all a bit weird.
I think settling into this house in Woodside will make a huge difference to this feeling of displacement. I hope so. Also I hope the extra room will allow Ervin to move into his work more easily. He has been doing the odd (fantastic) photo, and he now has some of his woodworking tools but, when it is raining here, he can’t use them. So here’s hoping. The other day he was particularly out of sorts and I said, ‘Why do you feel bad?’ And he said, ‘Because I’m homeless.’ Nail. Head.
With my hands in earth my heart in my hands my heart in my hands in earth that fed me for many a year.
My soul would lie down here and sleep. Surely my great weariness would seep out into this good earth. Stars would wheel across the sky, perhaps a late and waning moon. And in the morning, the sun would rise and I would turn my face towards it like a plant. I would rise refreshed having dreamt the dreamings of the land.
But in the meantime it is enough to feel its grit between my fingers to blacken my nails with it. I pull weeds and stake the seedling trees. With my hands in earth, attached as they are to my wounded heart, I listen. I hear myself apologising for the acts of human kind. I apologise for being human.
But the earth answers: Humans are part of what I am. Humans have a right to be here. Humans are part of my whole. They just need to come back to me. They need to lie on me and feel their true place: that they are one small species among many that the earth owes them nothing and gives everything that earth is their mother and earth will receive their bodies when they die and because of that, they need not hurry nor worry nor tangle their thoughts about tomorrow. They simply need to lie down here and close their eyes. Let the moon shine and the stars light their nightly piss. In the morning, the sun will rise and they will turn to face it like plants and they will know their place in the scheme of things.
The mother dog licks the puppies’ arses. They all crowd in together nudging for teats. Later they will roll and play. They’ll bite each other and lick the insides of each other’s mouths. They will curl up together to sleep. When they are older they will do all that, and more, with completely unrelated dogs.
I will tell my grandchildren that there was a time when complete strangers would shake each other’s hands, how friends would hug and greet with a kiss, sometimes on the lips. The grandchildren will look at me as if I was mad. ‘Granny’s off again,’ they’ll think.
Of course, they also won’t believe me when I say we had homes for old people. ‘What do you mean?’ they’ll say, and I’ll tell them how for a few generations it wasn’t unusual to live past eighty, and they will look at me as if I am mad.
They won’t believe that when sports people won a game they threw themselves on each other in glee. I wonder if they’ll understand glee.
I’ll tell them how people were so careless that there were islands of plastic floating in the oceans, how we were so wasteful that we bought more food than we could eat, that we threw out clothes after only wearing them a few times. ‘Some people had whole rooms with nothing else in them but shoes.’ I’ll say.
They won’t believe me, but even while they think I’m mad, they’ll say, ‘I’m glad I can hug you, Granny,’ and we’ll hug and watch the mother dog lick the puppies’ faces after she is finished licking up their shit.
Clean and clear the indigo sky wherein rides a pink moon as soft as autumn, as calm as centre as centred as earth, as tethered as love as silent as this suburb now that the children sleep.
Saturday night, but no revellers drink away their inhibitions, or fall into the arms of a stranger. No rapists, no prey, no police cars, no sirens. No wicked witches, no trolls under the bridge. No fat men eating money, no avaricious politicians.
Just the homely quietness of a suburb in lockdown under a pink moon in an indigo sky.
Early in the evening is a time that my family calls ‘happy hour’ because it’s anything but, with hectic, tired, hungry kids and adults, all trying to bathe, and do homework, and get food together before bedtime. You know the drill, usually quite tense. I rang my daughter at ‘happy hour’ the other night. I apologised for ringing at that crazy time. She said, ‘It’s ok, everyone is chilled because they’ve done their work and had time to play.’
And I thought that was interesting, because a lot of people, all of a sudden, are not hectic and agitated. (Except when they have to go to the supermarket, of course.) A lot of people have unexpected spare time and some rather unusual solitude.
As an artist, (poetry is just another art form for me), I am a friend of solitude. But I have been happy in solitude since I was a little kid, growing up miles from any other families. Not that I don’t love being with people. I love them. I love interactions, good conversation, and laughter, and just the general caring that happens. But I’m also quite happy on my own.
Of course I was as caught in the rat race as the next person, always feeling that I should be doing something, preferably something that brings money in. So I wasn’t much good at watching ants, for example, or the movement of clouds. I only gave myself time to dream because it was necessary for the incubation of poetry!
I think our busyness was a great loss. We were addicted to it. It’s like we were on an extended coffee high. Speed freaks. We haven’t given ourselves alone time to evaluate what we actually, in fact, want. We have taken our desires from some great big advertising publication that says: One must be part of all this. Must have this, must have that.
And I can’t help feeling that, as people settle into this new situation of physically distancing themselves from others and realise it isn’t the end of the world, (assuming they have enough toilet paper), there could be major changes for the better.
I wonder how many people will change their lifestyles as a result of having time to think. I’m sure there’ll be quite a few who chose a healthier way to live, even if it means a bit less money or trinkets.
It has got to be good for the earth. Remember her? The earth. We humans are a species whose population is on an exponential growth curve. The earth with all her bounty, is a finite resource.
When I have my new-age hat on, I think that this pandemic is just a small warning call to us from The Earth. (She gets capital letters when I have my new-age hat on.) I also think there could be much worse to come, like global starvation if the climate gets too bad for our food production systems or our population gets too large. And that, through means like these, The Earth could shake us off like droplets on a dog. And that she might just do it! That’s when I have my new-age hat on.
But it is just possible that we are in a new-age.
How will we chose to live? What changes will we make?
We have felt so nurtured, supported, and loved. At the worst of times the best of people comes out. My prediction is that similar open-hearted goodness will come from this latest world-wide disaster as soon as we realise the tremendous power of our love. We are all in it together and we are taking care of each other just by taking care of our selves and physically distancing.
Except maybe it was essential. We managed to squeeze two nights camping in before things get too tight. And I assure you it was good for my mental health.
We went to one of our favourite spots, a conservation park near Keith. This movie is of dawn on a little hilltop which has been saved from mining by a rare native mint bush. The park includes disused quarries and the first night night some hoonie types making skids and dust. They were not isolating, is my guess, but they were having fun.
Strange times we are living in. I can’t bear the face of our Prime Minister. That’s part of why we ended up camping because we didn’t hear his speech about parks closing. Lucky weren’t we! A ranger came but because there were only two of us and because nobody camps there much, he let us stay. He was such a nice man. He would have loved to see Solastalgia the exhibition. I showed him the beginning of my poem before it cut out from lack of data, and he took the address so that he could watch it later. We had been talking about interconnection from a distance of about three metres. Social distancing is larger at the best of times out there.
There’s no Covid19 in Keith yet. No toilet paper either. But there were cleaning products.
Mostly we are ok. A bit up and down. I noticed while camping a slight distance from beauty that used to feel when I was depressed. But nowhere near as bad or as often. And I have tools these days.
I’m a bit worried about other people though. The situation is a bit like a trauma for lots of people, because there is so much fear. Granted, we are yet to see the worst of it, here in Australia, but I wonder if the degree of fear is sensible. Fear is insidious. Wariness is great, carefulness is absolutely necessary, but fear is really bad for your health, especially over long periods. It can become PTSD that way. I think the obsessiveness of it is lifting. It must. Some humour coming back into social media, I’m pleased to note.
It’s really important to take care of your health. Get some exercise, preferably enough to raise a sweat, it releases those endorphins. Do nice stuff, watch nice stuff. Enjoy yourself as much as you possibly can. Remember your mind is not caged. This is a recipe for all times of course, but especially now.