I host the occasional visitor and here are a few essays about some of them. Maybe to set an atmosphere I’ll give my thoughs on travel and I’ll include an actual quote from a visitor. I’m not a traveller myself as I don’t really believe in travel as it is done by most tourists. I don’t believe in the novelty of gawking at a changing scenery or the cliche of a famous object. I’d like to know the essence of things and the comfort and relaxing beauty of my beautiful home and surroundings I personally think that no holiday could surpass. I do though like meeting new people and hearing their stories and learning new things about myself. This I think is the purpose of life. If travel were a pilgrimage on life and Nature, I’d be interested but that generally isn’t the case. If I host a visitor though, I treat their visit as a pilgrimage on this theme. A visitor once said to me, “Upon meeting a stranger and feeling the rapport, it is an opportunity to explore yourself and the other into psychology and other regions normally left alone. The two of you have no personal history and no status to maintain and the two of you may never meet again so future reputation counts for nothing so take the opportunity to tell me or ask me what ever you like!” She also went on to say that she thought that London was a place where a lot of these sorts of encounters took place.
Mieko arrived in disarray. No money, no bankcard, no passport and almost nothing other than the clothes she was wearing. It turned out that when she left the previous host, she had left in bad circumstances and had to leave almost immediately leaving most of her things behind. In fact I had picked her up from an exotic eastern religion nunnery where she had spent a few days recovering from the previous host. A few days later I contacted the hosts and made arrangements for them to send her possessions on to me and they warned me that she was a difficult guest. It took two weeks for her things to arrive which seemed an excessive length of time and in the meanwhile I had to lend her money and so forth. Yes she was difficult but she was also very well meaning and idealistic. She was very abstract in a Japanese way and extremely impractical and disorganised. She told me that she was employed as a yoga instructor in a Japanese zen monastery and was in Australia to try and sell some pieces of art she was carrying with her which she said were quite valuable. As well as being knowledgeable with Shintoism and Buddhism she was also familiar with the Indian religious traditions having also spent some time there. In fact we get along quite well because I’m a bit of a mystic and a bit abstract myself. Mieko spends her time in the dairy busying herself doing her art and reading, and I get on with my tree planting past time. Another thing we have in common is the appreciation of nature and its beauty. She is one of the very few individuals that I have shown my collection of old twisted pieces of collected wood that she also finds most enchanting. The most important way that I put my interactions with nature into practice is with my waking track. Here on the farm, I have made this path that connects the features of interest such as the hut, cave, large trees in the rainforest, and so forth with seats conveniently placed but also more abstract things, as meaningful rocks placed strategically, a shrine with its collections of offerings and my favourite, a rock in the form of a severed head. The Japanese word is suiseki which means an object occurring naturally in nature which looks like something else. Mieko is in raptures with the shape of the rocks, the twists of the vine and the colours of the leaves. The shrine which came about when I discovered an old cow bone and placed some convenient rocks over it to make a little shelter, for her is deeply and powerfully symbolic. This is the Hindu influence. That afternoon, Mieko goes off on a walk on her own. I can hear her voice singing shinto songs of devotion to the beauty of nature. A most satisfying sound for me to hear, someone appreciating nature. Late in the afternoon, I’m still wandering about and I can still her melodious voice? How beautiful. I listen…… and can I even understand some words? Can I hear, “Bob, I’m lost, Please come and save me!! Help, I’m lost”. Yes it’s true! I call out, “Yes, Yes, Yes, I’m coming!” An unprepared struggle in shorts and bare feet, through the jungle, the vines, the thorns over rocks and up the steepness to find her and return her to relative civilisation. What may be simple tracks for us to follow, to her more used to the throng of the crowds, is a labyrinth of confusion. The next day she is off again upon the path. This time she is certain she will not become lost. At each turn of the track she comes upon a scene of beauty. She paints a Japanese character in water colours to show appreciation on rocks, leaves, and trees. At one place she removes her clothes, she tells me, to be closer to nature. At the shrine she prostrates herself for half an hour in respect to the dead cow. Here she even paints the English word, ‘RESPECT’ on the bone to sanctify or maybe to remedy the situation. At the small cliff where there is the impression of a human face, she paints a Japanese character on each cheek. At the severed head, another character. At each seat she sits and contemplates. The Japanese word I like is wabi sabi, the profound in the ordinary. Yes I don’t think that my path has been more greatly appreciated. The mile walk takes most of the day to complete. She eventually leaves. I don’t know how she has gotten on or where she went. She has left behind her valuable paintings and I’m still not sure what to do with them. She even photographed the cows looking at these paintings which is an example of some of her type of art. One of the cattle she named, Latchme after the Buddha’s wife because she was so beautiful conveniently ignoring the fact that he was a steer so we renamed him Latchmo. Yes she left disorder when she left but if you can’t help it is it alright. Her personal background was interesting and maybe an explanation. Her father who owned the family business was a volunteer to be a kamikaze pilot in the war. Obviously he must have been devoted to the Japanese way of life and its cause but now after selling the family business, his main interest is golf, an expensive hobby in Japan. He has shown no tolerance to her eccentric ways and is probably quite cold and detached to her in the Japanese way. When she was about 15 years old, her mother died and he very quickly remarried his wife’s sister. Mieko’s aunt now becomes her mother and she calls her mother. I believe this change was difficult and confusing for her to make at such a sensitive age. Her mother is dead but she has now has this somehow close imitation of her mother as substitute. She finds it impossible to settle down to a conventional Japanese life style. Yoko Ono is an inspiration to her.
Meiko did utter the words here, perhaps though in a different context but nonetheless greatly appreciated, “I have truly found paradise”. A statement I take to have broadly meant me and my planted Arcadian paradise. After she left, she wrote me a letter, on the reverse side of one page she covers the whole page with the Japanese character for “love” and signed it with a Japanese blessing.
I saw a notice on the Lonely Planet bulletin board which by the way they call the Thorn Tree from someone wanting to live in a cave for a month and be a hermit. I emailed back saying that I had a cave in the rainforest and that she was welcome to use it. I told her that life would be tough but it was available. I also said that I would want to see her every four days just make sure that she was okay both mentally and physically.
She told me a little about herself. She was a recent graduate from what I call a back to nature university in Oregon, the most environmentally conscious state in the US. She had studied subjects such as human evolution, the evolution of civilisation, conservation ecology, and so forth. Her father was formerly a pilot with a commercial airline and her mother a air hostess. As a reward for recently graduating, she was being given an airline ticket which they could get at a discount rate. She eventually arrived which I was a bit surprised about because people often make plans and nothing comes of it. She spends the first night in the spare bedroom of the house. The next day, I show her the cave in the rainforest and on the way there, I also show her the hut on the edge of the rainforest. I leave her there and make arrangements to meet her for breakfast in four days time and to see how she is getting on.
In due time, she arrives and we discuss the experience so far. She tells me that she did spend a day and a night in the cave but did find it difficult and moved into the hut with the relative luxury of a bed with a mattress, a wood stove and no bats flying around at night to disturb her.
Every forth day, she would come and we would discuss things and maybe go into Gympie for shopping, to visit some friends and even a trip to the beach at Noosa. After being without company for four days with no radio, TV, telephone, or even books that I noticed, she was quite happy to visit and talk. She told me that she was a lesbian. I thanked her for telling me this for although of interest, there wasn’t really any need. She said that she had a girlfriend back home. She then asked me if I knew of any available ladies who might like to visit? She then told me of her desire. She would like a different lady to visit her every night. I asked her, what about the girlfriend back home? She said that if each girl visited for only one night, then that was quite alright as that was only harmless gaining of experience and in fact was even desirable but they would not be permitted to stay any longer because that would then be seen as becoming in competition with the permanent relationship.
Unfortunately one of my characteristics is that I let opportunities go due to either laziness or foolishness. I could at least have tried and made an effort to find at least some ladies to visit. It would have been possible but unfortunately I did nothing and let normality and complacency rule. This was a seriously missed opportunity on my part as there could even have been something in it for me as well.
Eventually she leaves and returns home. She becomes a fire fighter for the fire season in the Rocky Mountains where discipline and total effort is the order of the day. She then is accepted into the police academy. The last I heard was that she was finding it extremely boring and all the other normal students not appreciating her breadth of life’s experiences. I don’t know if she ever completed the course. She said that all she wanted to do was to have adventure and to do good. I don’t know if that is what the life of a police officer is like though?
The aptly named Pixie gave me an arrival time for bus but she wasn’t on it. I waited for a little while and what else could I do but to come home. This was just before mobile telephones so what else could I do but to come home again. An hour or so later, I received a telephone call to say that she had arrived and would I please come in and pick her up. She said that she was sorry but she had missed the bus and couldn’t contact me any earlier.
She decided to stay in the hut to be close to nature. She spent most of her time there and some time helping me. One morning she arrived at the house in a bedraggled state and covered in cuts and scratches. I asked her what had happened. She said that she had gone for a walk in the afternoon and had gotten lost. Dark came upon her and she was stuck and had to spend the night where she was in the jungle. That night we received an inch of rain as well. I told her that I had thankfully spent the night soundly and comfortably asleep in my dry bed. Something that I wouldn’t have done if I had known that she was lost in the jungle somewhere.
Anyone who gets lost in such circumstances I don’t have much sympathy for. To go for a walk in the afternoon and not to observe your back is foolish. The hut is located where it should be difficult not to find it again since there is a gully in the front of it and there are slopes all around. I asked her out of curiosity where she actually went but I couldn’t get a clear answer. Yes, I was thankful she departed still in one piece.
A Visitor Needing the Jungle Shrine Therapy
I once had a Japanese visitor who had been travelling around Australia for almost a year and yet for all that time of speaking basically exclusively English, her English still wasn’t very good. I asked her about this and she agreed. I then asked her as to what her Japanese was like and she said that it also wasn’t particularly good either. She went on to say that whenever she spoke, her friends often spoke over her. This set me thinking. The lady was obviously very adventurous and independent to travel around Australia on her own and so I suspect that she might have had difficulty fitting into the rather restricted life style of many Japanese ladies. She was also naturally very polite and so I surmised that she must have suffered from what I call personal self censorship. In other words, she would have felt the pressure to fit into the conformist life style expected of her but her nature was one of independence and free thought. In conversations, if she spoke from the heart, she would have said progressive things that might not have been acceptable and felt the need always to check and censor her speech so that she could conform. This would have robbed her speech of vitality and spontaneity causing her lack of fluency. I should have offered her my cure of extemporisation at the Jungle Shrine where it is quite alright to say whatever you like. In other words, I should have reassured her that she is now deep in the jungle where you can do whatever you like and that she is invited to speak spontaneously whatever comes into her head. If she wanted to say, f…, s…, f…,s…, that is quite alright as how could I care less. We then could have gone on to vigorous heartfelt conversations spoken from the heart with vigor and conviction. Unfortunately she left just a few days later and I didn’t get the opportunity to offer her the cure of Jungle Shrine extemporisation.
The Jungle Shrine extemporistion ritual can take a variety of forms. Since we are at the Shrine, we are within its mysterious realm, but surely the greater mystery is the half hidden world of our subconscious, that source of imagination and creativity. Maybe we can negotiate the terms of the extemporisation. Choice of language is an option for some. It doesn’t have to be in English. Maybe sounds could be substituted for words, or even just movement. Maybe it could be a question and answer time? Could the performance be enhanced if there is taken by all an oath of secrecy as to what ever transpires. Should the performance have a time limit? Should time be allotted after the show for a discussion, or once the show is over, should the blanket of secrecy be strictly maintained with a return, [or maybe now it is an attempt to return] to normality as if nothing has happened. What the show is, isn’t so important, what is important is that it comes directly without self censorship from the heart. Yes this is my landscape theatre. Maybe it is now landscape therapy? Here deep in the jungle, different rules apply.
A Visit after a Gap of Twenty Years
Many years ago when I was married to Robyn and our little baby Emily was only one year old. Robyn was driving close by to here and picked up a young hitch hiking couple. They seemed nice people and Robyn invited them back to the house and they lived with us for about a week. Their names were Emma and Rob. We got to know each other quite well. Emma even knew three of the authors of the books that we had on out book shelf. One was an uncle who was an art critic, the other was a neighbour from home in England, and the third I’ve forgotten. They decided while at our place to go their separate ways since Rob needed work and money and Emma was eventually to go back home to England. We kept in contact for a few weeks and when Robyn decided to go to Toowoomba for a week’s drama course, we contacted Emma to help me to look after our one year old daughter, Emily. This would enable me to keep doing my tree planting work on the farm and Emma was happy to have a place to stay. We made a happy “family”, father, daughter, and foster mother. We even went in to Gympie to do shopping and to see the real estate agents since Emma was to inherit some money and was even thinking of buying some land in the district. Eventually the week was up and Robyn returned and Emma left to shortly go back home to England. This was the last we ever heard of each other. Keeping in contact is difficult especially when one is traveling and going back home overseas.
Twenty years later and I’m still working on my trees. Some are now much bigger but the recently planted ones still need much care and attention to keep them ahead of the weeds. This day, I’m up the back doing my normal tree caring program when I hear the dog barking. This is a bit unusual so I decide to come back to the house to see what is going on. I find at the house a couple, their three children a car and caravan. They introduce themselves as the long departed Emma and Rob and their three children. A fifteen year old daughter and two younger sons. Yes I do remember straight away since for some reason, the memory of some people still remain with us. I was able to recall straight away the authors and other experiences. They said that they were just passing through the district while on holidays and thought they would try and remember where I lived and to see if I was still here after all that time. If it was clever for me to remember straight away, it was even more clever for them to remember how to get here since when they initially visited, they had no car. It is strange to be reintroduce after twenty years. Where have those twenty years gone and what is there to show for it. Somehow meeting puts us back twenty years and we tell a few experiences and of new circumstances to fill in the gap of the time. We also can’t help but think of what we have done and has it all been worthwhile and to at least think of what just might have happened if somehow we had chosen a different path and would it have been any better? Those twenty years have gone and are lost completely and cannot be recalled but I cannot but be haunted by the thought of other paths and other gains and losses that were once available. We go for a walk together with the kids, to the cave and the hut and then we go picking avocados so that they can have a good feed of fruit when they get back home to life in the Blue Mountains and normality. Maybe it will be less than twenty years before they visit again and what will they find next time?
A Visit from a Lady Called Sheeba
I can play the piano and one of my favourite pieces is by Handel called “The Entry of the Queen of Sheba”.
Sheba was a pagan Queen who visited Solomon the Wise in the Old Testament story. A pagan Queen is called a sibyl, a magical lady who has powers and the vision of the third eye. She was off to visit Solomon the Wise who at the time was building his famous temple, and to obviously compare notes with him. Not only was she famous for her powers but also she was very beautiful. Unfortunately, although she was very beautiful, she had one fault, a club foot which she was most ashamed of. On her way to Solomon and at the edge of the building site where Solomon is building his temple, she comes across a log which crosses a stream. They had tried to use this log in the building of the temple but somehow its length kept changing and so it was discarded and just used as a bridge to cross the stream. When Sheba arrives at the log bridge she sees that the log has come from a tree in the original Garden of Eden and that a sucker from that log will eventually grow into tree which will in turn be cut into timber to be made into a cross upon which the Christ will be crucified upon so out of respect for the log, she raises her skirt to reveal her club foot and wades through the stream. With that act of humility, her club foot is miraculously healed.
Well I have been visited by a lady who was called Sheeba, but she was a dog and she didn’t have a club foot, but her owner did. He was the unfortunate victim of thalidomide, a tragic drug given to his mother before he was born. Unfortunately there was no act of humility on his part and he left again with his club foot, but Sheeba the dog still remains, she eventually died of old age and is buried here.
Kerry was a 52 year old lady from London who visited me about 2 years ago. She was studying at a university in the east of London doing subjects such as sociology and anthropology. I remember that she had a daughter who lived a street or two away from the street that my great aunt lived in from the 1930’s until about 3 years ago when she died. She had a few good stories to tell. The one that I remember most was that she was a marimba player in a band that played at different venues. Apparently there could be up to 30 members in the band if all were called upon to play. One of the venues that she played in was something that we don’t really have in Australia and that was “The Sex Maniac’s Ball”. Some of the stories were quite is it interesting or is it amazing? It is interesting that the rules of normal society can be changed and we are able to adapt to the new circumstances so quickly. I remember that she even invited me to the next ball if she is their playing there. I didn’t know what to think of the offer. Perhaps it’s lucky that I’m a bit of a stay at home. She also played at a street demonstration to legalise prostitution. She stayed a few days and then I took her off to a beautiful national park near here where she went for a swim in the ocean. She said that she was a good swimmer and often swam in the seas in Ireland. She went into the water and started swimming straight out to sea and then she just continued until she was completely out of sight. I didn’t know what to do. People do drown at this isolated beach. Do I run up to the other end of the beach and try and contact a rescue helicopter to come to her rescue. Do I try and find a good swimmer to swim out to sea to try and find her, or do I even swim out myself. Maybe I could just bury her rucksack and pretend that I have never met her. I was feeling quite sick and didn’t know what to do. I decided to climb out onto the nearby rocks to look further out to sea. From here I could just see her in the distance and I tried to wave to her to come ashore. Yes she came back and asked what was my worry. I said that when she said that she was going for a swim, I thought that she was just going to play in the waves, not swim way out to sea. She said that she was sorry but that she was a good swimmer. That’s where we departed. She spent that night and perhaps even another camping on the beach and enjoying more healthy swims in the great Pacific Ocean. She emailed me a few times from London to say that she had settled down to the hard work of a university student and that is the last I heard of her.
Cindy was basically a good girl who had gotten off the rails and a friend had recommended to her that she come and live here in the hut on my farm, with me and Robyn and our daughter Emily, together with another lady living in the dairy and her two children to get her life back together by living a more wholesome country style. Cindy wasn’t her real name but was the name that she worked with on various occasions as the jobs required it [!]. Since very few people here knew her by this name, I’ll use it to hide her real identity. She was only 18. She lived in the hut for 2 months and even moved into the dairy when it became vacant when Cheryl had moved out after several years. She was a great help to me on the farm and in the house with Robyn and also was a great friend to young Emily. One of the positive legacies of her stay was the painting of the hut and many years later, it still hasn’t been repainted. She also left behind an attractive little hanging pot which I still have and cherish and use as an ashtray for the occasional visitor who smokes.
Robyn was an arts school graduate and an art teacher and Cindy had good natural artistic abilities. Robyn convinced her to practice her art and to get together a folio of her drawings. These were then submitted to the Toowoomba College of Art where she was accepted as an art student. Her departure was the last we heard of her.
About 16 years later, time has marched on and I’m now divorced and living on my own. I receive a sweet letter from Cindy asking if she can visit again. Naturally I agree and a meeting at the local bus station is arranged.
When I meet her, I can immediately see that the intervening years have been tough. In fact it is just as I’m driving out of the car park that she says that she has a pain in her neck and needs to go to the chemist to get some pain killers. It has taken no more than two minutes before my personal red danger light to come on brightly and undeniably. It is Sunday afternoon in country Queensland and there is no chemist shop open so we decide to drive home and I’ll check my cupboard at home. This is a bit of a tall order as I never take headache tablets or pain killers. We look in the cupboard and find a few headache tablets from Robyn’s days here as she had quite a liking for them and a few pain killer tablets I was given when I had a wisdom tooth extracted but didn’t bother to use. The collection was offered and in the instance all were gone and the situation is calmed for the moment. We get talking, and to sum it up, everything bad that can happen to a lady had happened to her including naturally jail. She was returning again to get her life back in order or that’s the story I was told. Arts school was initially a success but after a year and a half, the old ways of self destruction couldn’t be help back and her bad ways had returned.
At this time, an opportunistic self proclaimed spiritual healer was conducting meetings just down the road. Cindy is accepted as a helper as are all comers and becomes an active participant in a weekend celebration. At the end of the succession, which is mostly made up of older middle class ladies, some money is missing. The finger is pointed at Cindy and a scene ensues but nothing is proved. I even comfort her in her distressed state.
Cindy moves into the dairy and at least I don’t have to worry about the house burning down from an untended cigarette.
The well trodden path is followed of contact with charity groups and accommodation is arranged with furniture, food and a transfer into Gympie.
I still occasionally visited her in town which she is grateful for. One time, on departure, and on the footpath, she gives me a close embrace and tells me what a wonderful friend I’ve been to her in difficult times and that she is most grateful. Me the sucker, bask in self satisfaction and return her affection.
At the next stop in town, I put my hand in my back pocket to pull out my wallet and yes, it is gone! How boringly predictable and how stupid of me! Yes I could even feel her hand slipping into my back pocket but choose to go with the good times and a sexy squeeze to the bum. Yes, I’ve learnt my lesson and I don’t return.
The boyfriend from Moe arrives and she takes to wearing black around town. What has been achieved. Nothing! Her initial plan to return to the hut where she lived all those years ago and partly reformed never came about. She and her boyfriend eventually leave town and I’m sure relieved.
Two girls came to visit. One was an educated American and the other was from N.Z. The American particularly loved the presence of the NZ girl and the two seemed to enjoy just being together and doing little things together. Perhaps they were lesbians or should have been or even wanted to be, I just didn’t know and didn’t ask. The American even said to the NZ girl, “How could I ever be unhappy in your presence?”. The girls camped in the dairy, in the hut, on my verandah, and even in the paddock. Work here is only done by offering. If someone wants to sit and do nothing but take in the fullness of nature, I don’t mind but if I do need help with something, I will ask though.
One little project the girls worked on was the painting of a little mural in the hut. They travelled with paints and this was one way they made a contribution where ever they went. First of all they just drew lines all over the area to be painted. Then they took out the paints and brushes and coloured it in as they saw fit. They then looked at the patterns and interpreted symbolic representations. The painting is still there to be seen in the hut. It came to pass that the American girl was actually a graduate in business studies and had an important and serious job back home. She came to Australia, with a warm climate and links up with a hippy girl with a different life style and the two travel the country together. In Washington, where she came from, her father had a job in the pentagon which was so important that when he retired, he was able to keep his job and the job was so secret that she didn’t even know anything about what work he did. The two eventually leave and I cannot but wonder what become of her when I suppose she returns home and has to become serious again. Going from a cool climate to a warm climate and moving from a stressful lifestyle to one of complete doing only what one feels like is easy and is like going downhill. Going back home is going in the opposite direction and like going uphill. I never did hear how her return went and whether she ever recovered from her Ozzie holiday.
A Brother Sister Combination
I think that I’ve had only one brother/sister combined visit. They were hitch hiking north from Melbourne to Cairns and stopped here for a few days. They telephoned and arranged for me to meet them in Gympie. When they were here, they stayed together in the dairy and seemed very close. The interesting though is that they were travelling very light and didn’t have a change of clothes. This I couldn’t help but notice because she was wearing the entire time a black tee-shirt and the bottom was an orange background with black stripped skin tight tiger costume including a full length tail. They even did a few jobs for me including pruning some trees, tiger costume tail and all. They were always polite and most cooperative. After a few days they departed and I left them on the side of the highway. I couldn’t help but wonder how their hitch hiking went dressed like that. Was the tail helpful or not. Their mother was a social worker in Melbourne if that could be some sort of explanation.
Jane had just finished studying second year mathematics at London University which she said was extremely difficult and I’m sure that she was quite correct. She said that she had enjoyed studying maths at school and even found it easy but now at London University it was just too difficult and she needed a holiday in Australia to relax. Unfortunately though she didn’t have very much money. She was obviously very close to her father who was a solicitor and had inherited from him a love of literature. She donated “Titus Groan” to my little library in the dairy. Her father worked for UK Telecom prosecuting people who defrauded the company yet her mother would spend her time removing unmarked stamps from envelopes to yes defraud the Post Office and to save a few pennies. This frugality she inherited from her mother but I don’t know how these differences were reconciled at home.
She told me a little tree story. She came from a place called, Seven Oaks just south of London. It had just recently experience a tornado which had blown over six of these ancient seven oaks. At the school carnival, the kids once would cheer, “Come on Seven Oaks” but not anymore but, “Come on One Oak”.
When she arrived, she had just hitch hiked down from Cairns to here in south east Queensland, alone, scantily dressed and without much money. She spent several weeks here and even caretook the house while I went away for a week. When she departed, I dropped her off at the highway and she went south to Brisbane. She then changed her mind about going south and hitch hiked north all the way past Cairns, past Cooktown and further on to Laura to experience an aboriginal festival before hitch hiking south to Sydney and then back to London and Seven Oaks. What a journey!
She wrote to me from England thanking me for her time here and telling me of her adventures. Luckily she didn’t come to any harm. I don’t know what happened to her and if she returned to University and some sort of study. The strain of life, and the breaking of the normal bonds that bind people and the breaking free of these shackles may drive people to do things that they normally wouldn’t do in more considered circumstances.
She was also perhaps an unrealising advocate of the theory that I also agree with that the more beautiful the girl, the more ragged the clothes. Beautiful girls wearing beautiful clothes is actually a degrading of their divine grace. I like the no underwear, and the moving vista of hole in a dress and the see through allure of thread bare clothes.
An Unsuccessful Visit
I’d like to think that all or almost all of my visitors have a good time but occasionally it doesn’t always work out. I received an email from a Danish lady who wanted to visit who was seventy years old. I don’t mind that someone is 70 but I also think that it could be a bit of a strain for them to accommodate my rustic ways. I have a feeling that I should say no because I don’t think that it is a good idea but I know that I’d be criticized by the politically correct that I exclude people because of their age so against my better judgment I say yes. After overcoming some initial confusion about her arrival time since she emailed me the time she was arriving and didn’t do it by telephone. As a consequence, I hadn’t checked my email that day and so she had to telephone me when she arrived so that I had to drive in to meet her. That was a bit lucky because I could easily have been off somewhere else. Visitors sometimes say they are coming then don’t turn up. That is alright because I don’t go out of my way to accommodate visitors unless I know a definite arrival time. Anyway I meet her, do some shopping for groceries and come home. As I’m putting the food into the fridge, she says that I’ve bought a bottle of cream when I have one in the fridge already. I say that the one in the fridge is empty. That day and evening she starts telling me all her complaints and I’ll just list a few to give an idea of the situation. She hates mosquitoes although I believe that I have almost none. She hates the down stairs toilet and the grass is too long and needs mowing. We have a talk about children and I tell her about my precious daughter being in Switzerland. She thinks all single children are neurotic. She was married for 20 years and there was nothing good to say about all of that time. Lucky I don’t mention the prejudice about older ladies without children. Her biggest fear and complaint though is snakes. Now here unfortunately she has come to the wrong place which I have to explain to her as sensitively as I can that there are plenty of snakes here. For breakfast she asks about the milk and where did I get it from. I said from the dairy farmer next door so she won’t touch that. On her breakfast of weetbix and mangoes, she only has cream. I have never seen someone have so much cream on their cereal but I just sit quietly and let it pass unnoticed. She comments she has to go to considerable lengths to prevent getting an upset tummy. She also doesn’t like rain water tanks. She does come for a walk for me on the walking track and is quite sprightly for a 70 year old although she doesn’t actually say that she enjoyed the walk. We only do half the circuit though. She did acknowledge that I must have put much work into growing all those trees.
On the afternoon of the last day, I go for a walk to the back of the farm to do some work and I leave her sitting of the back verandah doing some reading. When I come back she tells me of her little adventure. She says that while quietly sitting here on the verandah, a snake actually tried to climb up her leg. When she looked down and saw it there, she kicked it off and screamed so loudly that she thought that I would have heard. Fortunately I didn’t for if I’d heard it, I may have had a heart attack from the shock. The snake reappears, I see it and identify it as a green tree snake and then off it goes. She continues reading and about 15 minutes later another smaller snake appears on the verandah with her. Luckily I’m here and remove the snake. (It just jumps off the verandah and into the “long” grass). It is small consolation to her that this has never happened before.
The next morning, I take her into Gympie and she is off to the next host. She thanks me for an eventful visit and thankfully she is gone.
Conclusion, I must say no to anyone I don’t think is suitable for an Australiana experience. It turns out that she is a Servas host in Denmark and has the very occasional visitor. She doesn’t like the cold of a Danish winter and so travels to a warmer climate with limited money. She then feels it is her right being a host herself to stay with as many hosts as possible. She was with a host before me and left me to go to another host. This is a considerable psychological strain for it is very difficult to keep up the flexibility to keep adjusting to the personal rules that run each house hold and basically an older person cannot cope especially if the host is in a different environment to the one the visitor is used to. Visitors need to find a host they feel comfortable with and stay a little longer there so that they can accommodate all the many influences that they are experiencing and then leave in a more settled frame of mind prepared for the next adventure.
I once met a lady at what I could loosely call a tree lover’s meeting. Naturally I invited her to come over to my place one day where I could show her some of my many beautiful trees. A few days later she visited and we went here and there looking at the many trees that I’d planted and some of the naturally occurring ones as well. Some were straight and smooth and others were bent and rough. Yes I admit that I found it all quite exciting describing this and that to her and she seemed to be most impressed asking questions and wanting to know more. It was late in the afternoon and I invited her to stay for dinner. A meal was cooked over the wood stove using some of my ample firewood and a pleasant atmosphere was set. After dinner sitting on the verandah with a glass of wine, we move closer discussing the arcane subject of the aesthetics and intimacy of trees. It wasn’t long before we go off to bed together and consummate our common passion.
This is my confession. I wish to meet a lady who looks at my trees and thinks that they are sexy, and then automatically thinks that I’m sexy as well because I have planted so many of them and I love them so much. This I’m told is a bit strange but to me it is absolutely natural. Maybe this story is a confirmation of my belief. I live in the hope of a similar encounter. If it happens once, it could happen again or so I like to think anyway.
Yes, she lives locally and I occasionally visit her but nothing more has happened between the two of us. Probably the passion of the trees just over came us at the time. A year or so later, she told me that she had applied to study forestry at a university but had decided against it because of other commitments. She has since temporarily moved away but I’m left with my trees as consolation which is not so bad and to wait for what I don’t know.
I once had a dream and in it was an ancient book lying in a dusty corner called, “Trees and the Working of Magic”. Apparently the potency is even greater if you have planted the trees yourself. I wonder what other information it contained.
Loving Your Work
Three of my lady visitors have worked as prostitutes or so I have been told. One, I think that I mentioned it briefly in an earlier story, the second I was told about after she had already left by a friend of mine who was staying in the dairy at the time who had a brief dalliance with her while she was here. The third was sharing the house with me when she told me her story. Prostitution is a fascinating subject. It is both extremely personal and yet readily available provided the money is there. It deals in passions that are almost beyond the limits of what humans can accommodate yet the prostitute handles it all in a businesslike manner. The prostitute is both hated by society and yet is often passionately loved by her clients. She sees herself as carrying out a necessary function in society and yet receives no social assistance or acknowledgement. The profession of prostitution is truly an arcane subject that I feel that I have been most privileged in having someone confide her story even if rather superficially to me.
My visitor told me that she had worked from an escort agency. Whenever she felt like work, she would contact the agency and they would give her an address. She would go there and only if she liked the look of the place would she then knock on the door. When the man opened the door, she would look him up and down and do her assessment of him. If she thought that he was of good character, she would go inside and was willing to have sex with him. If she didn’t like his appearance, she would not enter but contact the agency and tell them of her decision. She said that they always backed her decision. She thought that she was pretty good at assessing the character of people from first impressions. She said that it never happened that once inside that she ever refused someone.
She said that virtually every time she was treated with respect. Generally the client would confide in her his most heartfelt secrets which she would listen closely to and feel genuine compassion for him and sex would easily follow. She said that she would spend a longer time with her clients than was considered necessary. She said that one of the job requirements was that you had to like sex. She said that she kept a notebook and noted down all her clients. If any of them didn’t treat her well, she wouldn’t go back there again. She said that she did have some regular clients but she didn’t mind whether they were a regular customer or just a one off as there was always a bit of a thrill with someone new.
She was quite a small person of rather delicate features with a rather dark complexion. She said that she sometime played the role of a young girl for her clients. She told me that, and these are her exact words, “loved her work”. She liked genuine intimate conversations where people tell of their deepest feelings. Naturally she needed to also like what followed. She firmly believed that she was of assistance by doing much social good. I don’t know how she was paid or what her fees were but she did say that sometimes she was given a bonus which she did appreciate.
When she visited me, she was travelling around Australia on her own with plans to go to the tip of Cape York. She had a boyfriend, was it in Melbourne and spent much of her time sending and receiving text messages. She had an unusual nickname for herself which was “Around the World Fairy” meaning something like that she was as free as a fairy who was neither bound by convention or place and free to travel wherever and whenever she liked and bestow her blessings wherever Fate took her. I’d like to think that she did enjoy her stay with me. She was here for several weeks. She didn’t really do much work which I don’t mind but she did help in the garden and caretook the house for me when I went away for a few days. A few months after she left, she did send me a post card from Alice Springs saying thank you and that all was going well on her travels.
A quote from another visitor who spent some time here and I’d like to think enjoyed her time here may sum up the reality of the situation. “My fear is that I’m a boring person but what I find interesting is other boring people and their petty quirky boring interests.”
An Inspirational Painting of the Hut
A friend of mine did a painting of the hut. When a Taiwanese friend [Jamie] of mine saw it, she was so struck by it that she wrote this about it in mandarin, her native tongue. We then translated it into English and here is the transcript.
“Bob invited me to visit Kerry. He told me that she is an artist and that she had done a painting for him in return for a few days’ work. We entered into Kerry’s little house. She then went into her storeroom to retrieve this painting which was wrapped for protection. Kerry then stood in the corner of the lounge and unwrapped the painting. I then looked at it seeing each brush stroke of colour and after a few seconds, I comprehended what I was looking at and stood back in shock revealing a painting of Bob’s hut. Something that I knew and recognized almost immediately. I could not speak, my heart, eyes, mouth and even my feet were caught and enchanted and I was transfixed. I dared not move closer for fear of being drawn into the vortex of the painting. It was so shocking as if I had actually entered into the hut and its precinct. I had walked pass this hut on many occasions and now in this moment, I felt that I was actually drawn back there. For me, Kerry’s paintings and especially this one have an allure that draws me away from the mundane world and into the spell of these creative works of art.”
I can vouch that this is a very striking painting and is now hanging in my lounge.
I do also have some more strange stories of disorientation about the hut from me and others but I think that I need to be discreet in what I tell.
A lady visited me who I felt an affection for. We told each other some heartfelt and intimate stories and I agreed in myself to help her as much as I could. I showed her as much care and consideration as I could and I believed she returned the feelings. I did though expect some respect and consideration in return. Unfortunately though it turned into a cruel shame, she did not keep her word and betrayed me which I have found to be painfully humiliating and has made me out to be a fool. It is even worse because anyone who visits me also gets lessons in the reverential respect of nature and while here I expect my visitors to honour this. She also claimed a love of nature and that was even why she was here but this was poignantly betrayed as well.
The issue came up in the latter part of her visit here. While she was here, I introduced her to some dubious friends of mine and she even immediately commented on their lack of consideration to me. I told her that they were of doubtful character and that while she was here, I expected a certain respectful consideration from her and if I didn’t get it, I would naturally be upset. She readily agreed as it was natural good manners anyway. I also told her that if she ever felt like it, she was most welcome to move over there. I did not mind and even expected it. What happened though is that in this period while she was betraying me, she lost her beautiful ring which had been hand made by her father. Although it may not have actually been lost here, it was definitely lost while she was meant to be staying here and so it definitely may be here somewhere. Now I have quite an unusual relationship with rings and so the issue is actually quite complex. First of all, I do own a ring. It was given to me from a lady who gave it to me as a sign of gratitude for her visit. It is a Buddhist ring with inscription she had been given from a Buddhist monk, also for gratitude. She took it off her finger and gave it to me at my Jungle Shrine. My troubling thought though is, could it be, that the loss of her ring be in some way a consequence of her betrayals? A thought that I give myself permission to think.
To start my story, when I got married, my mother arranged for my wife Robyn to be given a family heirloom gold ring with diamond. The very next day after the wedding, she lost the ring and it was gone. Strange to relate though, it was found a month or two later in the dirt under the house.
A few years later, I have a visitor who is here to collect my old Toyota Crown Station Wagon with overdrive that I was quite generously giving away. While here he lost his ring, a platinum ring with a large amethyst. He though had no idea where he had lost it and didn’t even contact me about its loss. I found the ring several months later outside the spare bedroom. I was most surprised and perplexed and didn’t have any idea as to who could have lost it. Naturally it crossed my mind to just keep it but I started contacting my friends and eventually against the odds, the owner was found and it was returned. He was in a permanent relationship at the time and he left the car at her place. They eventually broke up and she and I eventually meet and become friends and she also confirmed the story from her position.
About two years ago, I was visiting my daughter Emily in Sydney. She lives quite close to the beach and we would sometimes walk to the beach for a swim. This time though, I found a ring in the sand. It had some unusual esoteric emblem on it. I was wondering what I should do about it, maybe even keeping it, but I decided to place it on the concrete path beside the post for a handrail and left it there and walked away. About 50 yards further on, a lady came up to me and asked if I had seen a ring? Is that a bit strange because there were quite a few people around as would be expected, but I said yes, and that it is there beside that post over there.
I then spoke to Emily about how strange it was and it reminded me to ask her after all those years, how is my wedding ring to her mother because it was also lost and found? She said that she didn’t know but she would ask. A week or so later, I got a phone call to say, that the ring was sold to a pawnbroker a couple years ago for $200. Now is that also a betrayal? I think that I should have been also offered the ring as I would have quite willingly paid the $200.
Yes, I commit myself to looking for and finding the missing ring in my own way and time. I will even look in some obscure and slightly possible places and yes, if I find it, I will return it. I once lost a watch up the back in the jungle and by a miracle also found that several years later. There will be a price though and this is it. I will tell all three of them what I think of them, their integrity or lack of it, and the betrayal of me and Nature and the deal will be that there is to be absolutely and completely no smart comments or any comment from anyone or the deal is vetoed and I will come home take it out of its hiding place and throw it far away never to be found. They are to sit there mute and I will have my say and then go and then at some later date, when all is still well, make arrangements for its return. Oh God, how I now desire to find that blessed ring! This is my most earnest pledge to Nature, Fate and the Angels that look after us and a request to them to guide me in my search.