We didn’t mean to go to sea. I didn’t think it could get any worse. After everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, it just seems churlish of the Universe to make things worse. I have heard people say life wouldn’t give you more than you can handle. Of course that’s a load of old cobblers. The Universe, or God or whatever you call the unseen forces (if there actually are unseen forces) is completely churlish, that is, if it is the unseen forces dealing out all these revolting experiences to me and humanity in general, in fact to all beings everywhere.
It is equally possible to blame all the good, exciting and magical occurrences on some sort of omnipotent being, but I prefer the fairies.
About eight years ago, a few days before my third daughter’s first birthday I had a dream, in it I was told that I would find treasure at Avebury. I don’t believe I have prophetic dreams but it was so vivid and convincing that I decided to go anyway. We parked our bus near the avenue and had dinner and a few drinks and decided to go for a walk. It was a warm summer night and as we walked along we began to hear music, it was strange because it sounded exactly like the Levellers. We continued on and the music got louder, until we stumbled upon a field with a huge outdoor stage and a crowd of about one hundred people all dancing to a live band. I asked the first person I saw who was playing and she replied in a somewhat horsey way “Oh, this is a band called the Levellers, and this is Avebury Rocks you know”.
I looked down on the floor and at my feet was a ten-pound note so we went to the bar and bought a bottle of wine to celebrate!
The next morning outside my bus a German tourist came over and said “if you would like to see a crop circle there is one just over the hill.” We were ready for a walk, and on the way over the hill, sitting in the lovely deep brown earth we found a stone age spear head. These things all felt like the treasure promised in my dream.
There do seem to be strange coincidental occurrences in my life which often involve German tourists telling me things almost in answer to my thoughts. One such time was in Australia at Kata Tjuta when I had just said to my daughters how much I wanted to see a big red kangaroo; a German tourist appeared over the brow of the hill and said “If you want to see a big red kangaroo there is one over there.”
Further down the track at Karlu Karlu (the devils marbles) my children were just wandering off, when a German tourist came up to me and said “please read the information board” I was close so I went over and read it, the story I read told of how the hidden people who lived there would take children who were wandering alone and they would never be seen again. I looked up and yelled louder than I had ever done in my whole life at my kids to come back. They ran back to me around the sandstone boulders while I shook in my dusty boots.
I sometimes wonder if there is a team of German tourists following me around under instruction from my guardian angels, or perhaps they are my guardian angels?
There are no German tourists out here on my boat, (or are there?) but there may be guardian angels, if indeed such beings exist. I suspect that they both exist and don’t exist concurrently in a quantum physics kind of way, just like the German tourists and myself.
I spent a long time wondering what it might have been like to be taken by the hidden people, the account on the information board was from an aboriginal man in his nineties who as a child had been briefly taken by the hidden people, but for some reason that I cannot remember, he had been returned to his mother. Apparently they take children to save them from the misery of living the way humans do, and they go off to live in the real way.
I wished the hidden people would take me. I wish the hidden people would come now, climb silently up out from the sea onto my boat and slip their sweet salty hands into mine and draw me over the side. Staring into my eyes as they pull me deep into the ocean, with nothing but the magical silence of their smiles; to disappear forever into the otherworld of the undersea. I wonder if they are connected, the red sandstone boulders in the outback and the ocean floor? I wonder if all hidden people are the same, the people of the shadows waiting to take me home.
I can feel the hidden people when I am in woods and caves. I climbed a hillside in Australia into a cave full of ancient red ochre handprints. As I stood inside looking out, I felt surrounded by beings, all pressed up against me dancing in the intense heat of the day. We danced with the beings until a huge flock of rainbow lorikeets flew by the entrance of the cave suddenly blasting us with a thousand echoing screeches!
Land is so colourful, I could never deny that the ocean has her beauty, but it’s so very different to the magnificent displays of colour that cover terra firma. It’s almost as if the land is the spring, summer and autumn, and the ocean is the winter.
Autumn is my favourite season, the richness of colour is enchanting, a glorious final adornment for the trees and the earth before the shock of winter’s silhouetted starkness.
I lived on and around the Somerset levels for twenty years and had the great pleasure every autumn of watching the starlings’ murmurations. The last time I saw them I got up at 4. 30am and cycled out to Ham Wall nature reserve across the misty moors, just before it grew light. I loved to see the starlings in the mornings, when nobody else was there, I imagined being the only person on earth, or at least for miles around, a chance to make believe I belonged to a different time, a different kind of humanity, when there was silence from machinery.
In the morning there is a different energy to that of roosting: taking flight, setting off, a new day. Maybe they knew I would not see them again for a long time, who knows, but somehow I arrived before they left. The ground was a black incessantly moving carpet of birds, and the air was thick with their chattering. All at once they took off, a million million birds, and they all flew straight at me as if I wasn’t there. They were still low to the ground, maybe a foot above. I stood still, unsure what to do, for a moment it seemed that I was about to be hit by a thousand birds at once, but at the last minute they parted and flew around me close enough that had I raised my hand I could have plucked one from the air. The whole flock flew past me as if I was a static object, a part of the earth, then they took to the sky, and en masse fell back down to earth as if pouring from an invisible jug, then they did it all again. It was so magnificent it brought me to tears. I was amazed to find that there were so many flocks. One after another took off and flew away into the morning sky. I stayed watching the sky long after the last birds had flown.
If I can choose to be something in my next life, I choose to be a bird. Birds are free. I wonder if they are the only living things on earth that are truly free. Or perhaps I can join the hidden people and return to the magical land from whence I came. Or maybe I can be a mountain. It is all just wishful thinking.
I miss the birds; out here on the ocean all is so quiet. I wonder if it will ever end.
Rainbow Lorikeets by John on Flikr
Starlings at Ham Wall by Tony Armstrong-Sly on Flikr