Saturday, November 12, 2011

Roads even less travelled - The Way Back

Time Travel
If you want to hum along, the music for this segment would have to be Noel Harrison's Windmills of your Mind .  Yes, I know it's from the late '60's but we are going back in time to the mid seventies now and  the lines "...Down a hollow to cavern (sorry, I always thought that said cabin) where the sun never shone..."  and
"Pictures hanging in a hallway
And a fragment of a song
Half remembered names and faces
, but to whom do they belong..." are particularly appropriate.



Mt. Roland, just behind Sheffield. The view that greets you when you arrive by ferry


On the way home I took a different route, via Staverton, No Where Else, Sheffield, Paradise and Promised Land. The last time I travelled the road through Paradise was when I was pregnant with my daughter and we were looking for land. The land is still green and beautiful, the blue wrens still flit before you, and the cows look fat and contented on the hills, but I’m sure that the owners would be just as reluctant to sell even a shovelful of it now as they were then. Mind you, they probably didn't want to waste good farmland on people who had no idea how to farm.

The Alpacas are new

I still like the placenames around here
 Most of us ended up with marginal land a long way from the towns and villages. I used to know people down most of these roads but now have difficulty finding my way around.  I also wonder what happened to them all. Mouse and Kathleen, Shane and Sue, Kim and Karen, the Tobins, Carol and was it Jim? Noeline and Mick ? And what about that red -haired girl who was learning to make violins? And  what happened to all the children who must be in their twenties and thirties now?

Most of the people moved on long ago, but as I am close to one the places where I once lived I make a slight detour to Jackey’s Marsh. This road is overgrown too and is as rough as ever. The small cottage has apparently been moved up the hill, but nothing is visible from the road except a new drive and a locked gate. Giant wattles stand where the ‘front lawn’ and the vegie patch used to be. The house next door where Dave Holmgren did the research for Bill Mollison's first Permaculture book is still there but looks small and forlorn now.  I look around for Annie's Cottage which used to be across the road. I still have the paints she gave me when she went to join a Buddhist Monastery.  There is no trace of her house at all.

Shane and Sue's old house

Kim and Karen's old place
There is still a bit of magic here. There used to be a big greenhouse with chairs, a swing and flowerbeds which was used as a lounge in winter. I wonder if that's it there?

A woman on a horse tells me that Jim, one of the original Teapot members (the commune), still lives in the area. She points to a driveway leading steeply up a hill. "I don't think you'll ever get your van up there though," she says.
I start walking. If I had known how long it was, I would have brought lunch. Jim always said that one day he would build a house on top of the ridge, so I guess he has succeeded. When I finally reach the top, I'm disappointed to find that he's not home. The house is eclectic but unfinished - a work in progress obviously, but the garden is superb. An irrigation system is running. The trees are netted and olives are growing along the drive.I never thought they would survive in this area.

Even the landscape has changed.  There are fresh scars on the mountain from landslips, red tipped eucalyptus plantations have taken over the foothills and some of the farmland- a subtle change, but a change nonethless, though the forest industry swears plantations are only a small proportion of the mix.  The background used to be bluish green. When I try to visit Smoko Creek, another favourite spot, there’s a new dam along the way and just a rough new track which can only be traversed by four wheel drives. It has all become alien and unfamiliar. The feeling is bittersweet. Maybe one should never go back or never go away. I don't know why  I expected things to stay the same while I wasn't here, but I wouldn't have wanted  to miss the adventures I've had in the meantime either. I've had enough nostalgia for one day. I head back over the Lake Highway, thinking fondly of electric blankets, flushing toilets and a nice hot bath.

Tree near Bothwell
  Not sure why I wanted to put this photo in. Maybe it represents all the dead branches in my life or  something Chris Dent said before he moved away:
"We thought we were in the vanguard of a new world, but the old world will move on regardless and we will just become a dead branch."

I'm not sure that's entirely true, but I'm less concerned about going back over old roads than where they will lead next. "The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began...." as Frodo said. Right now I hope it will lead me home and straight to bed.

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