I have no idea if the French Consulate will approve my long-stay visa, apart from an inkling that the rendezvous was positive. In a reckless sort of way, I’ve been preparing to leave anyway. At least for three months. If my application pleases the administration I’m off for a year, with the option to renew. Holy shit! there’s a mountain of ends to tie off.
Being a visual artist is heart-poundingly beautiful. I spend my days soaking up images then pouring my passion onto canvas, computers and sketchbooks. I get to run around in the forest, chase clouds down the coast and occasionally throw my clothes to the wind. But there are some drawbacks. Stuff. The walls are disappearing behind mountains of artwork. Fortunately my housemates are tolerant.
I was dreaming up possibilities for art shows when there was a loud knock at the door. I assumed it was another parcel for New Housemate but the floppy plastic envelope looked oddly familiar. It was only a week since my interview in Sydney and I expected to wait two months. Was this a quick refusal or the long-awaited ticket to Europe? I opened it up… and I haven’t stopped smiling!
PS I really do need to move my paintings. Stay tuned.
Yes, the city girl met the tall, handsome stranger and ran away to the bush where her life was forever changed and enriched, beyond anything she could have imagined. There have been many stories since, lives lived and died, but I think this one is worthy of a dusting down and airing in the sunlight, just so that people know that magic does sometimes happen.
‘There were several huts but the intention for each was that it could return to the ground and not leave a trace. Our first hut achieved this goal and you will find no sign of the building if you search the dry forest flats along the river. We cut dead wattle logs into short lengths to infill a pole frame. We hauled the smooth volcanic rocks from the river bed in a homemade wheelbarrow. Flattened stringy-bark sheets covered the roof. We had no power, power-tools or machinery. This was a labour of love, brute strength and endurance. But above all, it was a symbol of innocence and hope. We didn’t own the land, it belonged to the Crown. At that first moment, when two young city-dwellers chose a building site above the flood line, then adjusted it several metres to avoid a meat-eating ants nest, it seemed impossible that they would forge a life in the wilds that would last for the next decade.’
First hut: Photo Jeni McMillan