Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.

Friday, December 2, 2011


We’ve just enacted our shivery skinned, soft lipped, sensual supplication to love…….love that leaves a big hole when it goes on vacation, and fills the house to overflowing when it returns.  Love that turns a potentially tragic life into a dream.  Love that makes sense of everything, imbues with meaning, and can turn every action into purpose.  Love that reminds that everything is everything, connected and created, following the slip threads of every other thing into love……..

Kids safely bribed with cups of tea and a cartoon, we close the doors and settle into each other again.  Hello eyes, and lips, and that strong band of arm, and our hair entangling, and that warm, moist place where only we connect……the electrical touch, the building friction of warm soft skin.  Hello again my love, wrapped in this cocoon of us for a snatched moment in a life surrounded by younglings and small limbs and fractious cries and nappies and feeding frenzies and tiny fingers and border disputes and infectious giggles and the elephant stampede of small feet bounding and rebounding over bouncy wooden floors.  Hello again to the pull of our bodies that created so much life shimmering through the corridors around us.  That unrelenting sinking into each other that never seems to have an end.  The plummet into eyes and skin and lips and limbs and soft hair and hard man…….  The ancient magnet of mammals to create life in the cycle of birth life and rebirth, ever rounding circle of life through it’s stages, the young, the fertile, and the diminishing.  And then bodies sated and satisfied fit together so snug that there’s no beginning or end, limbs draped gracefully and sharp shoulders so soft a pillow, no slight movement is required to make it more comfortable.  Everything slows to minute detail, the blood gently lifting a pulse in a wrist, cool breeze drifting through the window, bird calls clear as a bell ringing outside, body’s sanguine reposing in layers, the slow drift of a dust mote, resting in that endless moment.  All of it makes sense, all of it has meaning, all of it is perfect if it led us to right here and now.  Of course we love, and we love so deep, and there is no end, and there can be no withholding of the great big love that we have for each other and our lives and our children and our friends.  Nothing can damage or stop the strong driving river of our shared experiences and lessons of each other and our places in the world. 

Which isn’t at all how it felt only a few days ago.  Stopping still in a home at last, after a long and arduous journey through fear and betrayal, judgement and heartache, jealousies and intrigue, threat and defensiveness, deep and gnarly patterns surfacing due to the stress.  Ugly bits of ourselves that we didn’t want to show, dragged out by excruciating circumstances.  Long hauls of personal strength and heroic efforts done alone.  Isolated feelings of being unappreciated.  Unloved down in the marrow of childhood aloneness.  Hiding behind the barricade of our battered love, till great tidal waves swept over them, and split us apart to battle the waves on our own.  Enacting the rituals of the love that felt faded, hoping that pretending would bring back the strength.  Pushing and striving and hurting to leave the place where all the pain focalised.  To leave the people that looked at us with grim eyes and snappy mouths.  To leave the arched eyebrows and slimly disguised taunts.  Pushing against invisible and seemingly insurmountable barriers that constantly seemed to be in front of us, blocking our escape. 

Till we did.  Escape.  Run fleeing from the harsh and lonely desert that was aching all around us.  We ran and we stumbled and we fled through the bitter cold and the sultry heat.  Cloaked in a magic tent that shipped us through the salty rocking waters.  Bits of our love bumped back into each other, and we started remembering who we were before the heartache, but the moments retracted like eyes on a snail, whenever the rigours of the journey became too taxing.  Easy to take it out on each other.  Easy to blame one another.  Easy to think that without that other, life may be easier.  Wouldn’t have to remember so much.  Wouldn’t have to try and keep healing those wounds.  Wouldn’t have to be surrounded by children full time.  Staying in other people’s houses, and on other people’s floors, and in other people’s camp sites, and on other people’s land, and in other people’s headspaces…….quiet kids, and don’t swear in public, and stop hurting him, and don’t ask for food, and stop playing with their special things, and don’t keep asking questions, and stop stop stop and squeeze yourself in so you don’t……take…..up…….too…….much………space.   Dreaming of a sanctuary and a private space, and blaming ourselves and each other for being this old, and still not having all the ticks and ribbons that we’re meant to have as grown ups in our culture.  Still not having a home.  A safe place to be who we are and take off the masks.  Let the kids swear.  Let them make mess.  Let them yell and scream and bounce all the floorboards.  Let them sound like harpies at each other, let them eat with their hands, let them, let them smile. 

Then we finally get here.  Our home.  Snuggled in by the owner of our home, who hugs us and kisses us, and thanks us for being here, and has left fragrant snippets of her life to surround us, and seat us, and feed us, and clean us, and keep our food cool.  A sweet wooden sanctuary, perched on a hill, surrounded by colourful folk and rainforest, tree’s dripping with life and surging green.  A home and private space at last.  The journey from heartache has finally completed, and found it’s solution in a place to finally let….it…..all……go……  Now that the fleeing and survival is over, there’s time to lick wounds again, and to finally feel into the new one we created, that’s been sitting inside quietly, silently promising to be no problem.  Our new child cradled and biding it’s time, the time that’s drawing nearer with every breath.  We finally have the time to turn our attention inward.  To redress what we can, and let all the ragged bits of skin that had to be pushed down unfurl, and set about soothing them.  And then all should be better shouldn’t it?  All should magically fix itself when the home’s been found? And it is and does…….to a certain point.  We know that we’re lucky, and we know that we’re doing the right thing, and we know that it will start to get better.  But unnoticed by us the heat keeps rising, and the humidity sweats on our lips and drops from our brows, and feels like walking through water.  Our internal temperature gauges start to boil.  Insides feel like they’re slowly cooking.  And it feels like I have a heavy hot water bottle strapped to my middle.  For weeks on end it builds.  And builds.  The heat.  The sweat.  Unrelenting apart from brief downpours of sub-tropical intensity, and then the continued build up of heat.   

And unnoticed by us the rise in temperature mirrors the rise in our unease with each other.  I remember things that hurt.  I spend hours in tears.  All the hurts and pains come bubbling up simmering to the surface, feeling so so alone and betrayed and wondering how to forgive.  Can I forgive?  Has something been broken?  An unbroachable gulf between us?  And with the bleaching of love, the children seem harder, and more difficult to deal with, and the reality of another one popping into our nest starts to seem silly.  Like we’ve gone too far.  Gone over the edge of practicality and manageability.  Everything seems difficult, in the sweaty reality of a beautiful home that’s void of all of our personal treasures that we left behind in our dash to get away.  Taking love out of the equation leaves a dusty, slightly macabre and messy life between two former colleagues.  Two ex best friends.  Two comrades who lost faith with each other in the battle’s dying glow.  Love leaves a sad ship wreck on the sandy desert floor. 

On the last night of heat, I slip away into town on my own.  To a women’s dinner.  He’s been trying hard to mend the gaps and spaces between us.  Asks me if I’m going to be swept away by a long haired lovely and back into the arms of a woman.  And I throw a “I wouldn’t leave the children” over my shoulder, as I shimmy out the door in my red velvet pants and drive through the cool evening breeze and thank everything I can think of for this break in the sultry heat.  Driving on my own feeling sad for my hurt bits, and glad to have this moment of my well known company all to myself.  I remember me.  I’m always there.  Always willing to make the best out of everything.  Always wryly observing myself and loving all my bits.  Loving the sense of me.  Driving through the uber green I feel a sense of peace and ease.  Forthcoming adventure.  Sliding down the road into town I slip into the hall and haunt around, looking for a familiar face.  A few women who have met me take notice and introduce me around, seat me with them, wrap me in friendship, touch my burgeoning belly.  A string of talented and passionate women perform for us, sitting sweating in our seats, by our tables, with our plates of food and glasses of wine and water.  Poems and songs and words of women and their places and their skills and desires and attempts at finding….love.  And stories float round me from the tables nearby, and faces speak tomes of love held and lost, and optimistic love spreads it’s wings over couples, and all seems to be a promise and faint hope to the potential of love.  I listen to women talk about how they’ve been loved for a year and it still keeps burning!  I listen to how they’ve decided that love has become a worthwhile and surmountable path to follow.  I hear the reasons why they think love is worth the gamble.  And the hollow ache that sits beneath the surface for the ones that have given up the challenge.  Decided the odds are too great.  And I sit, hiding the blood red heart of a love that’s been burning hard and singing our skin regularly with lust for a full blooded 12 years of lovemaking and yearning and babies and birthing and erotic dreams and fantasies lacing each other in the quiet unobserved moments between child interruptions.  Knowing that I have it.  I have that love that gets songs and poems and yearnings aching for it.  A bit of perspective is always a good thing…….
And the next day, the heat breaks, and clouds hover, and suddenly everything seems better.  I hear mention of how people go troppo in the buildup to the wet, and how extreme behaviours come bursting out in the heat.  And I wonder how much a part that heat played in our drama.  And with my newfound perspective, and remembrance of how lonely and desolate life can be without our love……………we bribe the kids with cups of tea and cartoons, and submerge ourselves in our love renewed.  As it always will be.  As it always has to be.  As I will ever keep it.  Untattered.  Unbroken.  Bouyed by the long distance haul of shared experiences and traumas and birthing and babies and walls scaled and hurts healed.  Love is.  And always will be.  Even if sometimes it seems to go on holiday.  Love wont let us down.  We wont let love down.  It’s ours for life.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Trust birth? Well mostly..........

A little while ago on Facebook, when I was talking about the search for a home, a midwife, and a doula, a woman asked me why I wasn’t considering freebirthing.  As she pointed out, I’ve got more experience in birthing than a lot of other folks around, and have thought very deeply about it all, so why do I feel the need to have a midwife?  The question really sat with me, and I wondered why myself.  I’ve always had a tremendous respect for women and families that freebirth, and for the last 4 births Currawong and I have tossed around the possibility of freebirthing……..but it never really materialised into a realistic proposition for me.  But I’m really glad the question was asked, as ever since it’s been sitting at the back of my brain pan, tumbling around with all my other thoughts, and it’s been an interesting journey following all the threads that come from it. 

In my toolkit of experiences, I’ve had a few run in’s with homebirthing midwives that were less than empowering, and a few with doctors and hospitals as well.  I’ve read books from the Christian fundamentalist right wing about unassisted birth, and how midwives, doctors and all other birth workers just get in the way of what should naturally be a magical experience shared by the mum and dad alone.  And I really related to what was written.  When the books drew attention to the observation that many women focused their oxytocic love, thanks and bonding on the midwife, rather than their mate, I could really see what they were talking about.  There’s so many birth stories I’ve read, where women talk in loving and glowing terms about their midwives, and all their other family members kinda take a back seat to the show.  And there’s a lot of intervention that some midwives get into that is totally unnecessary and just gets in the way, like giving internals, and cutting cords quickly, and catching the baby and ‘giving’ it to the mamma.  And after having a less than positive experience with homebirthing midwives, I really got into this way of looking at midwife led births for a while…….only to get pregnant again, cleanse a lot of my negative juju about midwives by meeting one who listened to me rant and agreed with me, and then was present at our birth in the most unobtrusive way possible, and gave me the gift of ‘catching’ my own baby.  I then went on to become a bit of a homebirthing and midwife advocate, till Balthazar came a long and introduced me to the blessings of western medicine.  And of course in my most recent and publicised birth of twins, Lisa was an integral, necessary, and much loved part of the process, and I definitely had a lot to say about her in my writings.

And while I know the statistics of caesareans in hospitals is incredibly alarming, and I get the whole interventionist dance that often leads to caesareans, as well as the scare mongering that happens from doctor folks when homebirth or natural birth is suggested…..I’ve had some really empowering, respectful, and peaceful births in hospitals too.  My main beef with hospitals has been their overwhelming attitude that birth is fraught with danger, and that birth belongs in the same corridors as deathly illnesses, physical trauma, great sickness and slow death.  I’ve got a bit of a problem too, with how the trend in hospitals at the moment is to separate mamma’s and babies, and that whole invasive separation they do with cleaning, testing, jabbing needles etc.  Kinda doesn’t really aid in a gentle welcome, compassion for a little being who’s been living in a controlled, peaceful and watery womb, and bonding.  Also, how it’s really hard to feel safe and cave like, and tap into a woman’s mammalian brain, in the sterile and bright environment of a hospital ward.   But then again, if a woman is really afraid of birth and what might happen, maybe for her a hospital is the safe place that she needs to be able to fully relax into the birthing process?  Afterall, even though much ado is made of interventionist practices in hospital, there are still a huge amount of women who birth naturally and without drugs in them.

To be brutally honest, I don’t think either camp has all the answers, or even all the questions, and I think that both homebirthing midwives and their supporters, and hospital birth workers and their supporters are two halves of the same whole.  Very antagonistic and despising of each other halves, but halves nonetheless.  And while they’re stuck in this anti each other and polarising dance for the soul of birth, a lot of women, children, families and individuals on both sides of the track are being overlooked, seriously neglected, and damaged in the process.  On the one side we have the birth trusting, all women have been beautifully designed to birth naturally, and by the way we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, so hospitals and doctors should just get back in their boxes, and take their hands off birth, and leave us all to do it peacefully at home approach, that also makes a fair deal about the scaremongering of doctors and obstetricians, and how a lot of their ‘facts’ are lies.  And then on the other side we have the medical approach that points to the harm that can come to unprepared women and families facing an emergency situation at home, and perhaps a long way from a hospital, as well as some of the dangers that can be faced when there’s an un-regulated body of birth workers attending births at home.  There’s also the body of information they hold about the dangers of birth, and how fraught birth HAS been in our history.  Yes many women pushed out babes on the fields and kept going, but a lot of them experienced babies getting stuck, and dying, and cords around necks stopping them from being born, and a hundred other possibilities that can and do happen even in these days of improved diet and hygiene and birth trusting.  But unfortunately, it’s the mainstream medical model that has the weight of the government and legal practitioners behind them, willing to send the horses of the apocalypse after homebirthers, and resulting in an unfairly balanced war effort on behalf of the hospital birthing scene.    

And the result of this antagonistic polarising dance in my opinion anyway, is causing many a casualty in the self esteem and bonding of families and birthing women across the board.  Unsuprisingly, with the amount of kids bounding around us every time we’re in public, a lot of my conversations with people we come across revolve around birth and kids.  And I’m really saddened that a lot of women respond to my stories with half ashamed accounts of how they weren’t brave enough to try birthing at home, or they tried and just couldn’t cut it, or they used every drug they possibly could because they were so afraid, or they didn’t have any option because their pelvis was too small, or they had health complications, or they had a natural birth and it traumatised them, or they suffered post natal depression, or a million other reasons why they didn’t give birth in either the wholistic, alternative accepted manner, or the hospital, mainstream accepted manner.  And these women all take it onto themselves, as their own fault, as their own body failing them in birth, as their inability to birth ‘properly’ being all their own doing, as an experience that happened to them that was less than they hoped, the result of which, can put some serious bricks in the wall of their lack of self esteem and body confidence, which then leeches from their parenting confidence, and sense of connection with their families, and becomes part of the general body of stories around birth that go unacknowledged from either side of the polarised fence, as it doesn’t fit appropriately into their accepted picture of what birth is.

I see so many women and families in pain around their birthing experiences, that I’ve taken to saying something like this to them….. 

“Ya know what darlin?  There is no ‘perfect’ birth, birth just is what it is.  Every one is different, and every birth is perfect if you let it be, no matter whether it was at home or in the hospital.  And we haven’t been designed perfectly to give birth, cause we CHANGED OUR DESIGN!!  When we decided to grow our frontal lobes and walk upright we changed our design from the less problematic mammalian birth canals that were straight, and we turned them into this twisty birth canal that can really cause problems.    And babies had to be born a year premature, which meant they couldn’t walk like all the other mammal babies, so mother nature had to create a tricksy system of oxytocic rewards if we held them to us and fed them when they were hungry, so they weren’t eaten by dogs or stolen by other tribes.  You just need to be true to yourself and do what feels good for you, cause that’s all that counts really.  Trying to birth or parent in any kind of way because that’s what you’ve been told is ‘right’ is never gonna work, cause it doesn’t carry the weight of your belief and life experience.  Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, and listen to yourself and your new baby whose instincts haven’t been convinced otherwise yet, and all will be fine…”

Or something like that anyway. 

Cause the biggest casualty in the war over birth is birth itself.  And it is a war, and quite a vicious one at times.  Nastiness and personal attacks are hurled by both sides, personalities especially associated with either camp singled out for horrific attention, and it seems that no-one’s getting the law of attraction proven by quantum physics, that you get more of what you focus on!  And my own personal experience that you become what you hate is also coming into this equation.  No one is winning anything, except for long drawn out battle plans being enacted, and a lot of energy being spent on the fight.  And a whole lot of people are losing, their integrity, their passions, their experiences being validated, and their sense of self worth.  Sometimes it seems to me that the fight just takes up too much space.

In an ideal world, both halves of birth would come together and hold hands instead.  Doctors and obstetricians would study their own sciences, especially that of Ethnopaediatrics and the beautiful works of Dr Sarah Buckley, Leboyer, Michel Odent, and all the others who’ve championed gentle and welcoming births, and provide birthing centres all over the world that allowed lesser and greater influences of homebirth and hospital birth depending on the blend required by the families that use them.  And homebirthing midwives who feel drawn to the trade, will work co-operatively with them in partnership and backup, so that all the potentialities of birth can be dealt with effectively and cohesively.  And the women and families entering the mysterious world of birth will have equal access to all the different perspectives and possibilities available, and have free access to whatever option works for them, based on their life experience and deeply held beliefs.  And imagine what we could do with all the energy focused on this war if the war dissolved!!  If the polarity that exists melted into a whole, there would be no ‘taboo’ subjects left anymore, so women walking into birth for the first time could explore the possibilities of natural caesareans for example, and alternative forms of pain relief, and maybe, just maybe, we could also focus our attention on what happens AFTER birth, a largely ignored realm in many birthing circles.  We focus on the conception, the pregnancy, the hormones, the birth and all it’s possibilities, but what happens after?  What about the importance of bonding?  The exhaustion many women feel after entertaining family hours after birthing? How to fold cloth nappies?  How to deal with sibling rivalry?  How to deal with the issues of step parenting?  How to address problems that occurred during the birth and set up patterns that aren’t life enhancing?  How to ‘unlearn’ survival skills that we’ve been taught by our parents that don’t help us survive, and in fact may be really stuffing us up?  I can think of worlds that we could be spending our collective energy on that would be far more rewarding than the argy bargy between hospital and home birthing.

So to get back to the original question, I guess that on deep contemplation, I’d have to say that I trust birth implicitly metaphysically, but not completely physically.  I’m aware of the things that can go wrong, and that HAVE gone sideways for me in my experiences, and when I’m in that intensely vulnerable and ‘elsewhere’ state of engaging in the age old dance of birth, I really like someone around to hold my hand, and who I know will cover my back.  Someone who isn’t Currawong and my family, who are caught up with their own experience, but who is there to just focus on me and the baby inside me coming out safely.  Someone who knows enough about the intricacies of birth to be able to fix any solvable problems at home, and also to get us the hell out of there and to a hospital on time if that’s what is needed.  And I’m so greatful for the folk that spend years in university learning how to help me and others when we really need them in hospitals, as well as the midwives who dig into the past to find old ways of birthing, as well as making alternative information available as well.  I’m greatful for all birthworkers really, and see the value in all their work and ideas.  I just wish it was something that they and others could see mutually and in themselves as well.

But that’s just my perception of birth, and the best way to do it, and when it comes down to it, I’d argue for anyone else’s perceptions till I’m blue in the face, cause that’s what it’s all about to me.  The combination of all our experiences and perceptions are equally valid and enhancing if taken that way, to the whole.  And if we put em all together and respect them all, we have a really healthy blueprint for the evolution of us all and our consciousness so we can USE those frontal lobes we traded easier births for, to help our planet and ourselves move beyond this warring and fighting over who’s right and wrong that happens in every sector, and move into an evolution of love, respect, peace and freedom for every single thing in the universe.  I’ll keep dreaming it up………

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The power of birth, and sub-tropical storms.......

Life’s been a bit like trying to do a tango on a highwire razor edge just lately.  Our time of house sitting the wonderful Ariad’s home is drawing to a close, and we’ve checked out houses and had lots of offers and possibilities coming up, but no conclusive home was solidifying.  We were all putting a lot of weight on the importance of finding a home.  For me, I feel like finding a comfortable home up here is the difference between being a complete hippy nutter who’s dragged her family across the country to be homeless and have a baby in a caravan park, and one of the arseiest acts of magical manifestation and creating a better paradigm for having another baby I can think of.  On a razor’s edge. We  had a serendipitous meeting with a couple in town who wanted to rent out their house  on a community, and it all seemed good.  They asked us out to see it and chat, carefully watching us the whole time we were talking, and the house was lovely, and they were going to leave some furniture, and all was good…..till they told us how much rent they wanted.  Right out of our price range.  Far too expensive for us mob.

We made these cute little hand written signs asking for sanctuary, nicely finished off with drawings of home by Lilly and Spiral, and put em up in all the places that we want to live, and we found this house that was heaven on earth, and we all did the silly thing of falling madly in love with it and not holding any cynicism in reserve to protect our hearts in case of rejection.  It was snuggled into the rainforest, with a composting toilet and solar power, lots of rainwater and a fenced natural pool using reeds for filtering, a chook house and a big fenced veggie patch, and a beautiful beautiful home with big verandahs and an underground room that stays cool in summer and warm in winter.  There was also a big bindi free lawn, and a sandpit for the littleuns, an outdoor bath as well as an indoor one….in short….everything we had on our list for the home we wanted to manifest.  And it was affordable too.  And when the landlady heard we had six kids, she said that was too many people, and we couldn’t move in.  Razor edge snapped to the ‘oh my god what idiots we are to be on this mad journey in late pregnancy with no haven to land in!!’, and we both got instantly sore, tired and grumpy.  We’ve been hearing all these stories about folk who got here and stayed in the caravan park for 18 months till they found a house, and other folk who took longer than that even, and have been living in substandard accommodations for years before they found a place on one of the multitudinous Multiple Occupancies or Communities around here.    Everyone we’ve been talking to has told us how hard it is to find somewhere to live, and how you’ve gotta pay a fortune to rent a chook shed and the rest.  And we were getting more and more worried, and our optimism was flagging……. 

Till the power of birth stepped in that is.

One thing I know from all my babies and pregnancies, is that there’s a magic that is the combined alchemy of our family and the new baby to be, that attracts in what’s needed at the perfect time, and we’ve experienced it every time.  Griff’s birth was an amazing and perfect hospital birth in Mt Barker, that was a gentle entry for Currawong and I into what we didn’t realise yet as our birthing career.  He was born in his sack, with no-one around but my support people and Currawong and I in the spa bath (which they wouldn’t have allowed if they’d known he was going to be born so quick).  In a bit of a tizz when they realised they’d missed it, a whole stack of nurses and our doctor made it just as he was born, and they clapped and cried and welcomed him to the world, and were blown away by witnessing an ‘angel birth’.  The first thing I said was “That was so easy”, as I picked him up and strode to our hospital room, pushing the bed to the side,  and laying out our futon, so we could all sleep together.  We went home later that day, and had a gentle and welcoming baby moon in our campground house that was just perfect. 

Lilly’s birth was at my mother’s house, and the birth itself was absolutely divine, and the photo’s were great, but afterwards a series of separating and anti-bonding events happened, that taught us all valuable lessons about the importance of bonding, and in a funny way, everything that happened kinda suited Lilly, and the person she’s become.  Her birth experience also taught us how phenomenal the healing abilities of young one’s are, as we healed the disrupted bonding, and watched her relationships with us all change overnight. 

Spiral’s birth was incredible……and worthy of a post all to it’s own, which I’ll get to one day.  We bought a house to have her in, and even though we were 250kms away from our midwife, she was on perfect time for the birth, I didn’t scare the kids with yelling and instead toned and chanted her out, and we had an amazing lotus experience and baby moon, far away from another disintegrating community experience that happened at the same time, and learnt the true value, beauty and magic of bonding done well.  It literally changed our lives and our vibrations and increased our collective love. 

I’ve already written on this blog about Balthazar’s birth, but what I didn’t make too much of a fuss about, was that we had actually moved to Victoria when I was pregnant with him, and were living in a house on land that was about to be ravaged by horrific fires, during the time that we would have been freshly out of hospital after having an emergency caesarean, with no family or friends around, having had major surgery, and all the rest.  We would have been evacuated about 7 times from that house.  Instead we were back in Adelaide, with friends, family and community nearby, had two wonderful midwives to help us through the process, and the perfect healers for afterwards and to help deal with post natal depression. 

And with the twins, we were in the perfect place again, with the perfect midwife for the job, the perfect healer to help Merlin come not too long after Max, and the perfect situation afterwards to highlight some deep held patterns that kept leading us to rejection by our communities and never having a home.  All the people we really needed were magically attracted to us, and I’m still realising lessons that I learnt about myself and our family dynamics and patterns from the experience, that are absolutely essential to our growth and the ongoing process of enlightenment that’s unfolding from our lives and births together. 

And now we find ourselves in a place where we feel like we’ve finally found our tribe, where people look at us deeply and listen to our words to judge us, rather than asking us for references and resume’s, and a serendipitous little thread has picked us up at the last minute, and is working it’s magic in our lives. 

To rejoin the story again, we were losing hope, and getting grumpy, till we woke up last Sunday, and Currawong declared that we were going to find a house that day, that someone was going to walk up and say “I’ve got a house I want you to live in” and all our worries would be over……..I was cynical to put it mildly.

We got to Nimbin, and I was all sad with pregnancy worries and skeletons in my head closet that need clearing for this new baby, and I told him I wanted to avoid the market, and go to the bush theatre instead.  He was happy to oblige me, but also really really wanted to go to the market, so we agreed that we’d go where the parking was easy, which ended up being the market.  And within moments of getting there, I sat with a midwife we’d met the week before, and I really fell in love with her approach and herself and her attitudes.  We had so many common thoughts about birth it was silly, and so many ideas poured out of us both about birth and family groups and big birthing concepts that my head spun.  She’s a real midwife.  There’s a special kind of energy that only a real midwife emanates, a glowing vitality that comes from witnessing birth regularly, an openness to just about any concept or attitude from the dance they do with birth and thereby sex and death as their trade, and a deep loyalty and caretaking attitude towards birthing women and their families.  Not to mention she’s just drop dead gorgeous.  When I was first told about her, and how she was a grandmother, I had a picture in my head of a silver haired crone, and when a tall, lithe, tanned and stunning woman in a mini skirt came walking towards me, I wondered briefly if that was the midwife I’d been told about, but dismissed the idea, cause she didn’t have silver hair.  But it was.  She’s also got a lot of experience, and was trained in Germany, and is firm in her beliefs that sex plays a huge role in birth, and all it’s attendants.  And she also straight away set about trying to find us a home, and hooking us up with people who might help us, and using all her knowledge and contacts to try and ease our birth into this community.  It seems we’ve found a ‘birth worker’, and I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted at who she is. 

She said if the worst got to the worst, she’d just create a meeting of the locals, so we could be looked after and found somewhere to live, because the community wanted us to stay, so they had a responsibility to help us!  Another woman who we’d met 6 years ago when we first met Nimbin was also around, and between the two of them they swapped names and possibilities, and cooked up a scheme where Annetta, our birth worker, was going to ring all the people she knew, and let us know later what she turned up.  Currawong went off to get the bus so we could head for the pool and wait for her, and bumped into the woman who owned the first house we’d looked at that was too expensive. 

And guess what.

She said that they’d had other people come to look at their house, but after talking to us and observing us carefully, they wanted us to be the ones to move into their house, and they were willing to take what we could afford, plus a day a week’s work in exchange.  Currawong was right.  And very intuitive.  And I’m glad that he got us to the market instead of the theatre!  So within 4 weeks of starting our earnest search for a home, we’ve done it.  And it’s on a community with an old friend of Currawong’s he hasn’t seen for over 12 years, who we bumped into a few weeks ago, and who I instantly loved and felt like we’d known each other for years, and another amazing woman that we met when we were here last.  A safe and comfortable home has been found, and my faith in the power of birth has been confirmed. 

But that’s not all, because there was a gap between the house sit ending and our new house being available, and thanks to Annetta’s networking, we drove off from the pool and met the most awesome family we’ve met since the last time!  Another homeschooling mob of 4 kids, living in an amazing home on a community, all totally gorgeous both inside and out, and we all liked each other so much we ended up staying for dinner.  There’s a community house on their community that they can give to people for short term stints, and they’re doing their best to organise it for us to live in it until our new house is ready to inhabit, and we’ve made some awesome new friends to boot.
And on the way home we experienced our first real tropical downpour.  It was awesome, and scary, and huge and intense.  Sheets of water so dense we could barely see through them, and hailstones bashing the roof of our van, and lightning and thunder so close you could almost touch it.  Tree’s were falling by the sides of the road and we had to stop four times while Currawong and another fella cleared them.  We had to pull over and stop in a service station while the storm was at it’s zenith and hailstones were pelting all around, and all the kids were a bit scared.  I just thought the raw power and energy of mother nature was absolutely awesome, and was thrilled at the intensity of it.  And Currawong was worried about his van, and got us as carefully and safely home as he could. 
But the biggest thing we realised was that we were really really glad that we wont be sleeping in a tent in Nimbin Caravan Park afterall, especially when it comes to storms like that.  Cheers birth energy.  I’ll never underestimate your powers…….. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coming home.....

So I got this little theory bubbling round.  About doing the geographical, and the nature of the human animal spirit, and a deep wondering about whether being semi-nomadic is actually an essential aspect needed for general peace and equilibrium in my life.....  I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in many amazing places, and different parts of land on this incredibly alive country, that have rich indigenous heritages of community, or trade, or magic.  And in my experience anyway, they can suck you in as strongly as they can spew you out.  Call it destiny, fate, or dancing the song lines of the earth, but during my life, it’s seemed quite apparent that I’ve needed to be some places at certain times, to meet certain people and get certain lessons.   And then when that time is over, all the attraction and wonder and serendipitous occurrences stop happening, and if the message isn’t received, then bad shit starts happening, until I get the point, and move on to the next place where the land and the people welcome me and my clan with open arms and it seems like everything I do is touched with gold.  And on this recent geographical, I can recognise the elements and the signs, and how often this has happened to me before, and I’m starting to think that the land and the people are indivisible (obviously), and if it’s not the land giving me the message, or if I don’t hear it from the land, then people will start giving it to me, till it gets bad enough that I just have to get out of there.  And I’ve tried to take it personally in the past, but this time, with all the familiar events going on, I reckon I can let go of that perception, and just realise that every place has it’s time, and if I can learn to read the signs a bit better, maybe I can avoid the nasty expulsion altogether. 

But apart from all that, let’s get back to the story.

After hanging out with the illustrious David Birch, and  blissing out in the rainforest at Protestors Falls, we stopped in at the Weave and Mend Festival in Nimbin that I heard about 6 years ago when it very first started, and I was asked to come along, but I couldn’t, and I always wondered what would have happened, and what it would have been like.  (And we wouldn’t have been able to make it if we hadn’t got chicken pox and missed out on the Rainbow Coroborree…) So we rocked up there after our very first night in the Northern Rivers Region at Protestor’s Falls, (which is where I left the story).  After blissing out at the fragrant air, and the amazing semi-tropical rainforest all around, and then telling the kids ‘I told you so’, about how colourful the shops in Nimbin are, and muralled, and totally unlike any of the monocultural shops that we’ve passed through in town after town after town on our thousands of kilometres journey, we totally loved getting to a place that’s obviously run and created by people and community rather than corporations.  And the people walking around are about as eclectic as I reckon you could ever get, from tourists, to backpackers, to skinheads, to hippies, to druggies, to alternative healers, to punks, to tattoed folk, to piercing addicts, to indigenous folk, to just about every other nationality you care to name, to the elders of the area who are still fairly straight and into farming, to artists, to Goths, to wood fairies, to activists, to just about any other minority group you care to mention.  And we wove through the street on our way to the festival, the street full of bright colours and rainbows, and we got to the school behind the street where there was a quiet little sanctuary of tents and tipi’s and rugs and basket weaving materials, and colourful dreadlocked folk sitting in groups learning about basketry and rope making and weaving and mending……….  At first we felt a bit like gate crashers, cause the festival had been going for three days already, and it was very intimate when we got there, but before long, I recognised a woman who’d shown me how to be beautiful to indigenous folk in Alice Springs, and she was making an amazing rug, and we chatted for a bit.  And there were two amazing, empowered, sexy, tattooed, striking elder women, one with dreadlocks and one with leonine hair, who kind of observed us all for a while, and then slowly but surely, started chatting a bit more about stuff, and connecting more, and slowly slowly we became part of the intimate gathering, and eventually got to the point where we were raving about the world and it’s vagaries, and giving each other hugs, and Granny Breath Weaver (what a fantastic name is that!!) who was one of the founders of the group, and an inspirational basket maker, ended up letting us know we were welcome at any time, and that she’d been calling for folk like us to come to Nimbin, and she got into this amazing game with Max.  Ya know that game you play with kids when they’re being held by their parent, and you duck around behind them and play peek-a-boo?  Well Max grabbed her with his eyes, and she started playing that game with him, except he kinda played it back at her, and surprised her around the other side, and played the game back in a way I’ve never seen any other kid do.  And she was totally entranced.  They connected in a human to human way, and it was a delight to behold.  And in our time at the festival, we managed to start some gorgeous new friendships, and meet some powerful people in Nimbin, and have all our kids off and playing and totally embraced, and even had some offers from folk with places for us to camp for as long as we liked. 

And then we headed off for Mullumbimby, where none of us had been before, and as it was a Sunday afternoon, and we didn’t realise that there was a Woolworths tucked away and hidden behind the main shopping centre…….everything was quiet and closed and there was no-one on the streets.  We didn’t realise till later how cool that actually was.  We’re so used to shops shops shops being open 24-7 from Monday to Sunday regardless of holidays and human animal friendliness, that it was quite weird to be in a big town that was closed.  And then we headed up the Main Arm Road and started preparing ourselves to meet Ariad and clan, of Rainbow Love Farm.  Which was quite nerve wracking really.  It’s a wild situation – to have read about someone’s life for over 3 years, and seen photo’s of them and their family, and have had an internet friendship that grew – and then be preparing to meet them in person……I think we were both wondering what the other would really be like, and whether we’d be the same or different to how we’d represented ourselves on our blogs.  So we got there…….and she wasn’t home.  Hadn’t thought of that eventuality!  So we decided to drive down to Uki, and check that place out, and on the way a really kooky thing happened.  We drove over the ridge of Mt Jerusalem National Park, to survey the vista on the other side, and there was Mt Warning, big, and bold, and striking, and obviously a powerful mountain.  We stopped the van to check it out, and Currawong pulled out the camera to take a photo, and we both saw it tracking tracking tracking with Mt Warning in the middle of the screen, and he took the photo………and it was completely white. 

We both went ‘ooooohhh’ and thought that was a bit wild, and then within minutes, Mt Warning was totally shrouded in mist and cloud, and there was no peak left to be seen, and I decided then and there that Mt Warning was an elusive and mysterious mountain, an opinion that has since been played out on our trips around it in the last few weeks.   A very powerful mountain indeed….and in good company with a lot of other amazing rock and mountain formations around here. 

So we kept driving down to Uki, and turned towards Murwillumbah, wondering where we were going to spend the night, and then decided to head back to Uki, doing a big u-turn.  And Currawong saw a van of waving people heading back into town, so he pulled over after they’d done a u-turn to be behind us, and it was Ariad and family who had seen us drive by and chased us!  Ariad came straight up to me and we had a huge hug, and then we stood around for a bit, introducing ourselves, getting eyefuls of how we all looked in person after seeing photo’s of each other for years, and chatting by the side of the road.  We all agreed it was a pretty wild situation, knowing so much about each other without actually knowing each other, and then Ariad invited us back to her place to stay for as long as it was groovy for us all.  Which turned out to be a week and a bit.  And we’re all in her beautiful house right now, house sitting while they’re all in Thailand.  But before they all went, we spent a lot of time hanging out with her and her beautiful clan, talking about our lives, swapping stories and philosophies, and generally all getting to know each other and finding out how much we had in common.  Which is a lot.  There’s something so soul satisfying about coming across other humans who have lived a different life to the mainstream, and come to similar conclusions, and have similar ideals for their children, and where we can all talk and feel heard and acknowledged with a total absence of judgement. We were all so used to apologising, hiding, or glossing over our natural learning or unschooling philosophies, that it was an incredible liberation to be with folk where we could celebrate the bits that were different about our approaches!!  It was also truly inspirational to see her children and their skills and talents so uniquely expressed – a veritable showcase for the Unschooled!!  And so wonderful to have an internet friendship that proved true and grew in person.  And I’m so incredibly greatful that she’s given us this time and grace to be in her space while she’s away, and the time to check the area out without the necessity of finding camps and packing and unpacking……not to mention that this is the first time in 4 years that we’ve been alone as a family and unobserved…… Ariad, you’re beautiful, your family are gorgeous, you’re an amazing woman, I love you, and I’m so glad that we’ve met in person, and will be living in the same areaJ

Have you ever experienced times in your life when you’re in a new place, and everything is fresh and unique, and the people seem all glamorous and interesting, and the world seems full of magical options, and you maybe even think that this time it will be different, and the patterns that you’ve been working on through life will mysteriously fade away, and a whole new life full of loving friends and passionate and fulfilling life will rollercoaster you away to a whole new reality???  And you’re in that open, ‘who know’s WHAT might happen’ kinda space, where every new person you meet might be your next best friend, and any kind of magic might be possible…..

 And all these ‘coincidences’ happen, and stuff like, we have lunch at a park and a woman we’ve never met before walks past three times just to check us out, then stops to chat the fourth time, and asks the whole family to her place for tea and nibbles, to have a peek at a house she conceived, created, and lives in.  And it turns out she’s a Jungian Analyst, and her curvy, rammed earth, stone and wood home, is an enchanted metaphor of a human mind that Jung would be proud to introduce.   Beautifully gracefull doors and windows sat snug in a hill covered with tropical plants, food, and sculpted wrought iron lamps and railings.  Circular staircases with handcarved wooden doorways following the curves flowed round the house filled with treasures and memories.  She and her partner were shiny and happy as they showed us around and received our praise and honest awe with shy smiles.  Huge timber beams and an old and gracefull wood oven, a loft with a tricky ladder and artistry imbued into all the handmade and loved features.  And we all sat and drank tea and ate nibbles, and you would have hardly known there were 6 kids squeezed in the kitchen, cause they were all so engrossed in spotting groovy things and asking questions that got thoughtful answers.  It was a true inspiration to be inside another person’s home.  Real home.  That private sanctuary where you can drop all guises and just be safe and warm and home…….

And there’s this thing that’s been happening, especially in Nimbin, where we’ll stop to talk to someone on the street, or in a shop, and end up having the most amazing deep and meaningfull conversations about life, the universe and everything, as if we’ve been friends for years……I was used to only getting those conversations rarely back where we were, and now they’re a daily occurrence!  There’s no polite chit chat, it’s just down to the essentials of existence, and real life stories, and I just love it.  We’re meeting people every time we go out, mostly new friends, some old acquaintances, and there’s this big thread of déjà vu running alongside the whole time.  And I swear there’s a big convergence happening unconsciously around here, the amount of people that we’re meeting who have only been here for 6 months to a year, and felt pulled here for the same reasons as us (escaping the great monotheistic monoculture that’s swallowing anything different) is astonishing.  There seems to be a subconscious gathering occurring, and I’m real curious as to what’s gonna happen next.

About the only stone in my shoe so far has been the lack of anything regarding homebirth……  I realise now I was in a blissfull homebirthing bubble in SA, with the amount of midwives I was fortunate to count as my friends, and The Birth Place being there as information and referral centre, and a huge group of homebirthing mamma’s and baby’s around that were easy to find……it’s all going underground here!!  One of the best midwives in the area has been de-registered, and apart from 2 other birth workers I’ve heard tell of, (one of which being the lovely Majikfaerie who also has a blog and who I’ll meet someday!!) women are calling themselves doula’s and birth workers, and the scene is very very quiet.  Kinda devestating, since this area was one of the forerunners of homebirth in the 70’s, and there was that amazing book “Birth at Home” by David Miller that so inspired me, that was written about this area.  I was expecting some of our homecoming in this area to involve big mobs of homebirthers and midwives being powerful together, and am a bit heartbroke that it’s not the case.    There’s a very public doula in the area who’s never had a baby and runs a group for first time mothers, and thinking it was for everyone, I went along with only ONE of my babies, and felt very unwelcome and out of place.  I kinda skulked up the back while the woman who’d never had a baby was talking about labour land from what she’d read, and decided that I didn’t need to pop anyone’s bubble, and that gig really wasn’t for me, and ran away!  I was pretty sad that night, and really missing my favourite midwives and their awesomeness, and woke up crying, so the next day Currawong (bless his heart) went up to the first pregnant woman with dreadlocks he saw, and told her we were new to the area and his wife was pregnant too, and needed to connect with other homebirthers.  So we were all going to the same market, and ended up sitting together and talking for hours, and it turns out she knows of a wise crone midwife who’s a grandmother, and we’re gonna meet her soon, and this pregnant woman is also a spinner and crocheter, and her partner is Fries (!!) and there may even be a space to rent in the multiple occupancy that she lives on, so we’re finding a path in the homebirthing direction afterall.  Thanks CurrawongJ

We also went to The Channon market one weekend, and bumped into the beautiful Megg of the Artnomadix Wearable Art blog, who we met in Alice Springs 7 years ago, and who showed us how to live in our van.  And met up with old friends and new and had a blast.  And then the next day happened to be driving through the incredibly beautiful Tyalgum, and happened to bump into Megg again, and her mother, who lo and behold has exactly the same very rare army edition of Toyota Commuter van as us! (There’s three of our ex-army vans in the area that have been turned into hippy vans…what are the chances of that?!) We checked out Meggs gallery, and had a cuppa in their beautiful home on a hill, and had a lovely afternoon in the caldera of the massive volcano that birthed this area. 

And I’m aware that I’m writing a lot now, and there’s a bit of a lack of photo’s cause we’ve all been too busy doing it, to remember to take photo’s of it, but I’ve just gotta finish this thought……   That thing I’ve been talking about in previous post’s about ‘blending’………all I’ve got to say is Nimbin.  I love Nimbin.  In fact we’re all head over heels in love with Nimbin.  It’s bright.  It’s brash.  It’s raw.  It’s real.  It’s colourful.  It’s sweet and friendly.  It’s community living at it’s zenith.  It’s local and honest.  Even the pimply bits are honoured and acknowledged.  There’s a big open gusty wind of  acceptance of diversity that seems to thread it’s way through everything.  I didn’t realise how often we were given the message that we were untrustworthy back where we were, based on our ‘difference’ and how we looked, until I find myself surprised at how unjudged, accepted, and trusted we feel by complete strangers, that we feel we’ve known for years.  It’s awesome.  And always effervescently engaging.  We took Spiral-Moon into the Tattoo and Piercing Studio for her fifth birthday to get her ears pierced, and were totally entranced by the experience.  The gorgeous woman who was going to pierce her ears, sat with her and for ages on the couch, browsing through her box of jewellery to find something ‘bling’ enough for Spiral.  While the rest of us were standing by and chatting with the other friendly tattooists and customer, answering questions about our clan and how they came to be, getting fed fortune cookies and glasses of mango juice, while the other workers were increasingly surprised at how calm and unfussed Spiral was by the process.  They reckoned that adults have been known to cry when they got pierced, and Spiral didn’t even bat an eyelid.  They kept telling us our kids were fairy’s, and we had a mutual friend with one of the women that left us all feeling happy, and another woman gave us a book on alternative parenting that had been written in Nimbin.  It was such a friendly, honourable, and rosy experience, that when we were walking back down the street and I saw the ear piercing sign at the chemist, I just laughed, and was real glad I hadn’t seen it on the way to the studio, cause the experience we had was a special birthday present for our Spiral.  Then we stopped in at the gardening group that was happening at the community gardens, where my favourite crones hang out, and took the groovy kids we’d met there down to the free municipal swimming pool for her birthday lunch!  Coolest pool I’ve ever seen, it’s a big circle, that’s all shallow around the edges, and deep right in the middle, and the locals have got together and put in barbeques, and shade, and seats, and hang out there a lot.  Not to mention the skate park that’s just across the grass, and right next to the kids play park, and also not to mention the Lawn Bowls club that’s right next to the pool, where a whole heap of young folk (compared to the serious white suited prim and propers you see in every other lawn bowl club around the country) play lawn bowls while smoking and drinking beers with their bush beards, listening to the Skyhooks and other groovy music…….did I ever mention that Currawong and I have harboured serious fantasies our whole lives about playing lawn bowls?  And always been put off by the grumpy white clad old folk?  How cool is that.  Remember that post when I was talking about how you never see kids out playing or on the streets anymore, cause they’re all at home on their computers??  Well that’s definitely not the case in Nimbin.  The pool, skate park, kids park and lawn bowl club are always populated and thriving and happily occupied….such a relief!  And folks here don’t even look twice at me in my hand made pregnancy clothes, and Currawong strutting his stuff in his platform sneakers and yellow velvet pants with the leopard spot racing stripes down the side……they’re a bit spun out about how many kids we have, but I think I’ve got to own up to liking being different in some way, and being a bit glad that there’s still something about us that is strikingly unique…….  And just to finish that day of Spiral’s birthday, after getting her ears pierced and hanging with the locals at the pool, the twins fell asleep and we got to choose between the two jam sessions that happen in Nimbin every Friday night – the quiet acoustic and interesting instrumented jam at The Oasis, or the big, loud, amplified jam on the main street of rock and roll and blues and thumping drums……we picked the quiet oneJ  Just a taste of the magic of Nimbin……

There’s more stories to tell, but I’ve run on a lot now, so they’ll have to wait for later…….  And I'll do my best to take some more photos!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The further adventures of the big little mob……

Sofala was absolutely beautiful…..gorgeous river with smooth stones and a long long riverbank to explore, stone skimming skills to be developed, a huge hill behind the camp for the kids to practice their rock climbing skills on, no neighbours (we’ve been really lucky with that aspect so far), and beautiful plants that we hadn’t seen before………..but absolutely freezing! 

Mornings till about 10, and nights from about 6 were hellishly cold.  I reckon hell would have to be freezing if you believed in hell, cause there’s no more intricate punishment than cold fingers and toes and head and that strip of your back between your pants and your top.  But it wasn’t just the cold, it was having 2 crawling babies that woke up at the crack of dawn and wanted to be out, out, OUT! first thing every morning, and my frustrated maternal instinct that wanted to keep them warm and cosy and safe…which led to screaming babies and a very grumpy mum.  And I took it personally!!  The cold, my protesting pregnant body, and the cold were specifically aimed at me!!  I had more than a few tantrums, as I went to sleep with 3 layers of everything, and my woollen hat underneath a ridiculous amount of bedding that I could barely move under.  And as I woke up having to keep two crying babies in and warm till the sun started to unfreeze us.  I told Currawong in no uncertain terms that I wanted a house with walls and a roof, and a fenced yard for the babies to crawl around in safely, and WARMTH!!  Regularly.  Poor fella was so busy feeling happy and free to be away from all the stresses we’ve had around us, that it took him a while to realise that I wasn’t deliberately trying to piss him off by feeling differently. 

We spent three days and nights in Sofala, and then drove out to see the town where I’d spent my first 7 years.  Took some photos of the house where I came after I was born, and it was really weird.  I so wanted to go in, and was about to knock on the door and then lost my bottle, so didn’t. 

Then we headed into Kandos, where I went to school for the first time, and my family shopped, and everyone seemed happy and smiley! We had a pub lunch on a verandah, and the woman gave us a blow up jumpy castle to play with at the same time.  Saw a groovy rainbow clad woman and her daughter in the supermarket, and then we chatted in the op shop, and she tempted us back to her place with an offer off a baby holder, a cup of tea, and a place to camp.  And there was Jules, living in a tiny country town in the land of my birth, totally awesome, living in an amazing space, and we very quickly realised we had a lot in common. 

The place to camp quickly turned into a granny flat to stay in for as long as we needed, and not only did it have walls and a roof, but it also had a fence to keep the boys in, not to mention the most awesome kids toys I’ve come across, as she was a day care mamma!!  She also had two gorgeous daughters who were around the same age as Spiral-Moon and Lilly, and they all set about playing and getting on like they’d known each other since they were born.  And Jules spread light, love, and laughter as a healing balm all round us, like a walk in a springtime forest.  We’d all been through a similarly tough time since about March, and helped, listened and talked to each other in a way that made us all feel better.  You know how good it can be to talk to someone outside of your friends and family about a situation??  Someone with no agenda, and no knowledge about the intricate details?  Not least, in telling someone else about a situation right from the start, it can help you gain some insight, by telling the story in a different way than you would to someone who already knows bits….  And also, to meet someone so groovy must mean that we were back on the groovy train again.  Thanks Jules for all the wonderful things you did for us!  She also has a circle of amazing friends, and we were honoured to get an introduction to the alternative side of the land of my birthJ  Kinda did something really special for me and the little girl inside, to be around the land where I was born, and bumping into awesome colourful folk, having an amazing adventure. 

But after a luscious five day break from the road with Jules, it was time to continue our journey, as the Rainbow Coroborree was calling.  So we drove through Mudgee, stopping to talk to a groover in a wheelchair with the most awesome attitude….he reckons the doctors told him he’d never move, and were totally stumped by his amazing healing – he said it was all in his head.  He said there was never a horse he couldn’t ride, and he had the same kind of attitude towards his healing.  I told him about what my mate Daniel had written on the back of his wheelchair years ago…..”My only disability is your inability to see my ability” and he loved it.  Not far from Mudgee we drove past the largest open cut coal mine in the country……we were all quiet as we drove through the surreal scene of massive vehicles on mountains of black that they’d driven from the huge gashes in the land.   

Then we drove through the incredible land with epic rocks and breathtaking vistas on the way into Scone – the horse capital of Australia – and Currawong made a bizarre little movie about the road we were on.   We stopped that night in Gundy, a little showground up in the hills surrounding Scone, with the most awesome facilities we’d ever seen….and the bathrooms had showers facing each other which meant that we could chat as we showered and washed babies.   We were almost tempted to stay another night, but again, the road was calling. 

After an insanely slow drive with a massive headwind, the next stop was Bendemeer, where there was a free camping spot on gorgeous lawns near the river, and a crappy caravan park in the dirt up the hill….and you can imagine how happy the caravan park owner was about that.  Our first interaction with the town was an elderly fella in a tractor telling us that we had to camp closer to the toilets and away from the lush spot we’d picked, cause of the ‘idiot on the hill’.  He and other volunteers were trying to keep the free camp open, so we didn’t rock the boat, and went back where he said to camp.  And had only been there a short time, when we got a visit from the local constabulary, in the form of a woman with a lady tattooed on her forearm, a rather short haircut, and you’d have to describe her as having a slightly masculine demeanour.  There was obviously not much to do in the tiny town, so she was checking us out (our van does tend to stick out just a tad…), and told Currawong that she would have met us sooner rather than later if we’d parked in our original spot, as the poor ole caravan park owner was watching EVERYTHING that went on by the river.  She turned out to be real friendly, even flashed her lights for the kids as she left.  And afterwards, Currawong was saying he thought she was a dyke but couldn’t be sure, and after a bit of thought, I said “Of course she was!!  Not only was there the short haircut and the butch effect and the tattoo of the chick on her forearm, but on finding out that Currawong was travelling with 6 kids in tow, she said he was a braver man than her!!………..”  She even told me as soon as she met me, that she’d just told my husband that he was a braver man than her to be travelling with the big little mob.  Made us laughJ  There were swooping magpies which the kids hadn’t encountered before, and those caterpillars that clump together in the hundreds and spit at you, so the kids were totally entranced.  Dodging magpies while observing clumps of caterpillars provided entertainment for our entire stay.  There were also some grey-haired nomads in camp, and we kinda kept away from them, and then wished we hadn’t as we chatted just before we left.  A sweet couple who had been chatting to the kids told me that our kids were absolutely delightful, and we should be proud of the job we were doing.  And a Vietnam Veteran that Currawong chatted to said exactly the same thing.  We left with a warm glow…..

And then drove to Armidale, where we set up camp at Dumaresque Dam outside of Armidale that had a fungal bloom in the water so we couldn’t touch it.  Which was another sort of torture.  Cause it was really hot the next day, and Currawong’s back was out, and we could see all this beautiful water around us but not touch it.  Torture. 

Not to mention, it was at this fateful dam that I had to come out of denial and realise that those spots on the kids weren’t mozzie bites, and we really did have a case of Chicken Pox.  We’d hung out with my soul sister and her mate the day before we left, and their big boy was contagious unbeknownst to them, and she’d let me know early on in the trip, and we’d just kept going, hoping that it wasn’t going to become an issue.  But we had em.  And I thought I’d had them before, as my big girl had a mild case and I didn’t show a spot, but I got some spots on my belly that couldn’t have been insect bites and started to freak out.  It was hot, we had spots, we weren’t going to make it to the Rainbow Coroborree, and I was worried about the unknown, and being pregnant, and Currawong’s back was sore, and it was time for another tantrum……

But on the happier side…..I put my spider web up for the first time in the Soul Pad, and it fit amazingly.  Like a vortex leading up to the pinnacle.  After living with it for a day though, and catching hair in it, and dipping down to walk because of it, I decided it was absolutely gorgeous to look at, but a total pain in the arse to live with.  Currawong reckons that could sometimes be a metaphor for our life…….

So off we choofed again, heading towards Tenterfield, and we’d picked a camp in the Basket Swamp National Park in the hills behind.  As we drove up there though, we noticed they were burning off close to where we were going to camp, and there was only one road in and out, and there was also a huge amount of dry wood and grass in between the fire and us.  And the girl inside who grew up in the fire prone Blue Mountains said “Nooooo!!!” very loudly.  Not to mention, when we finally found the campground, it was the most insalubrious camp we’d ever seen, not even remotely baby friendly, and I was paranoid about paralysis ticks…..  So we headed back into Tenterfield and set up camp to much wailing and weeping in the dark, trying hard not to let our tempers fray too much and lose the plot.  Having a family shower first thing in the morning kinda made up for it, but we were all happy to leave Tenterfield. 

And from Tenterfield the land started showing up signs of rainforest, lush green landscape, and the semi-tropical finery of the area of the Northern Rivers that we’d been dreaming about so long.  The air started to smell of ridiculously opulent bouquets of wild flowers, and you could almost FEEL the trees growing.  Through Casino, and on towards Lismore, the kids were checking it all out, and Griffyn was telling me that he was wondering whether the land we were driving towards was really as lush as I’d told them, and whether he’d get there and think it was just like any other place after all.  Until we started driving up the hill to Protestors Falls, into true rainforest, and they had their heads out the windows whooping and sniffing and calling out all the amazing things they were seeing, and were yelling to me that it was BETTER than I’d told them, and amazing, and wonderful, and as many other big happy words they could think of. 

Now, if you’ve never been to pristine rainforest that’s never been logged, at this point I have to stop and tell you that you really really must do it as soon as humanly possible.  Because it’s amazing.  It’s alive, and lush, and splendid, and huge, and puts a human in it’s proper perspective…..as tiny and insignificant.  The majesty of Protestors Falls takes my breath away, and has done ever since I made it’s acquaintance.  If you don’t know the story, way back in the late 60’s, they were going to log the land called Terrania, where Protestors Falls is, and a group of people got together and strongly lobbied and WON!!  They not only protected Protestors Falls (hence the name), but set the precedent for many other rainforests in the area to be protected as well.  And I for one profoundly thank them, for what they saved and their strength.  When we first got to the cool welcome of the Falls, the kids disappeared down to the creek, and as we went to check on them, we saw an amazing family of two elders and two daughters working industriously in the creek, making balancing stone sculptures from the river rocks on the shore, and on ridges, and in the water, and the effect was completely spellbinding. Currawong told me later, that the woman had told him that her squatters camp in the forest had become part of the heritage application.  An archetypally magical rainforest river with stone sculptures scattered throughout became a mystical fairyland…… 

And then I walked over to the fella who looked like he was sleeping in his car, and asked him if it was okay to sleep in our van for the night, and it turns out that he was David Birch, not only one of the original protestors who’d defended the forest, but the fella who wrote the protest song to boot!!!  He pulled out the Terrania magazine from the early 70’s that had been all about their protest efforts, and showed me a picture of him with his guitar, at the head of the pack!  I was blown away, and honoured, and I figured that if that man said it was groovy for us to stay, that was all the permission we neededJ  He went on to tell us stories, and play with our kids, and he couldn’t quite believe that we were all travelling in our van and sleeping in it as well, and reckoned that we came with the most amazing entourage that he’d ever come across.  Which was high praise coming from such a man……  And to my great delight, he came over to eat with us that night, and sung us the song that he’d written for the Falls that they successfully protested about and saved.  What an honour.  And what a spectacular welcome to the country we’d driven so far to be in. 

And the next day was equally amazing, but I’m going to save that story for my next post………