Friday, September 02, 2005

Chairs Fill - A New Arrival


It seems such a long time ago now. Not as long ago as when I was six years old and teasing my baby brother, or even the more distant time when a clap of thunder let me know that it was time to be born. …again. This was Sept 2 2005.
I can remember the details so clearly that it can’t have been a dream.

We had been out earlier in the evening for a hasty Chinese meal. A buzz and whirr of clashing dishes, and far too much chilli chicken. All eaten with a frenetic intensity as seemed appropriate to fit in with the expectations of the eager staff.

Later, luxuriating in lots of bubbles as I attempted to wash and will away the day, the week, I wondered at an impasse I had reached. What I should do? In the semi dark, in a for once silent house, from the bathroom I could see the dog, previously asleep, prick up his ears. Yawning, he settled back down. Yet once again his attention seemed to be caught by something…perhaps another possum trying to find a way in under the eaves.

I turned the tap back on. Damn the drought, if other people could fill their swimming pools, I wasn’t about to give up this pleasure. Again something stirred and this time I donned a robe and padded to the study nearby, where a fluorescent pin of light was dancing across my humming computer screen. Very Odd. I shrugged it off, at the time. Computer literacy was not one of my strong points, especially on Fridays. All day every Friday. Anyhow the dog had gone back to sleep.

I hopped into bed. My partner was plugged into some AFL thing, although heavy breathing soon announced that my thoughts were my own again. The window was open and moonlight shone through the gum tree which shook momentarily. Must be the possum the dog was interested in.

It wasn’t that I heard any voices. Just that I seemed to know. Know that something or someone was interested in me. Was inviting me, to come, and to leave this comfortable but predictable present. To pack a bag and tread some new boards, so to speak.

I put it all down to the long week with a hard-to-please boss playing havoc with my thought processes. But as I drifted off, into what I expected to be a restful night’s sleep, I found quite the reverse and I was suddenly alert. Like Jack the dog. Alert but not alarmed! Yes , I mused , some adventure would be good. I envisaged a spot of white water rafting, tandem para-gliding and other unlikely scenarios. All in a warm climate of course.

So, while my partner’s snores amplified, I grabbed my daughter’s backpack from the attic, and, excitement mounting, started to throw in what seemed at the time, adequate for my anticipated journey. How wrong I was to be.

In went the togs and blockout. There had to be a mountain stream in this adventure somewhere. A Polartec top for the obligatory sunrise and an extravagant miscellaney of self indulgence in the form of overpriced bath oils. Jeans of course and the usual tops. All situations covered. A credit card would fix the rest. Oh yes…six pairs of knickers…a wise decision as it turned out seeing there were no washing machines where I ended up. Last of all, my beloved Kashmiri shawl. This, along with the undies, was the most useful thing I packed in the end.

Oblivious now to the background snoring, I grabbed the pack and hoisted it onto my shoulders. This time the dog was asleep as I left the house.

For some unperceivable reason I was drawn towards the garage door…a pretty ordinary in-need-of-a-paint Roll –a- door which silently opened as I approached. What looked to be steam rolled out in waves. Blast.. the hot water system again! As I cautiously looked for the valve, and the steam wafted about me, a beam of light danced around. What did…the computer screen light!! Intrigued and not at all afraid I advanced and simultaneously the walls seemed to fall away, the light intensified, and I ..was….floating!! How absolutely…amazing really as I was up in the clouds now. Thank heavens my backpack was secure.

There were mountains below now. For sure it wasn’t Australia. Slowly it dawned on me….these were the Umbrian Alps we had once visited when looking for the cave of St Francis in Assisi. I was awe-inspired and exhilarated by the adventure I had actually found myself in. I gradually worked out how to steer a course and to swoop low over the landscape, trying to catch a glimpse of the people who lived there. The abbeys and castles were as beautiful and evocative as ever. So mediaeval I naively thought. Everything looked as it must have when St Francis lived in his cave. Perhaps his wasn’t the only cave…

I was a bit hungry by now. That credit card would be useful. ( A smug thought in retrospect) As the sun rose people started to stir, and I was bemused by their strange attire. Must be a National Holiday. I managed to land in a little piazza…time for expresso and a roll or two. I know my Italian is worse than rudimentary, but no-one would take any notice of me. Very slowly, I realised that no-one could see me let alone hear me: in addition it wasn’t dress-up day, but somehow I had tripped through some flipping time warp or whatever only Einstein and his ilk knew about. I was not only in a strange country but
It was a different era!!

Oh Well!! Unperturbed, I helped myself to a couple of rolls and a jug of ale and resumed my journey, all the while wondering what to do next. Shortly an open area opened up the size of a soccer field. Later I learnt it was called the Golden Grove. Groups of elaborately dressed people, some on stage, appeared to be performing. Confident that I couldn’t be seen, I settled under a tree to watch the proceedings. “…Where the bee sucks…”drifted from a stage. What was that? Shakespeare!! Here!! A Midsummer’s Nights Dream!! But had my presence really gone unnoticed?

by Jan Kricker


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