Frederick for Winter-time – a fable

Frederick for a Winter time.

 

Some of you might know the story of Frederick
the field mouse accused of sitting about
day-dreaming, watching and listening
not sharing the tasks of preparing for winter
while his family filled every minute
hurried here and there to busy themselves
storing berries and nuts
for the long season they would bear

and how Frederick garnered
the warmth of the sun the wind in the air
for winter is so freezingly cold, stale and bare
and how he saved the colours of the day
for winters can be so long, so drab and grey
and how he gathered words that uplift the spirit

and how in the stark days of winter
most of the food had been eaten
and gossip and all the funny stories
had become threadbare
and they anxiously turned to Frederick
for sustenance
during the last cruel days before spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so Frederick asked them to close their eyes
and with his words his voice his magic
from stirrings deep within
they felt warmth the air scented
with their treasured aromas
and they saw the colours of flowers and trees
rainbows and flying birds
enduring brush strokes on their mind

and how when Frederick had finished
they all applauded –

but Frederick
they exclaimed
you are a poet

 

 

And for those of you still reading here is the story translated fom the fable.

Frederick    by Leo Lionni

 

All along the meadow 

where the cows grazed and the horses ran, 

there was an old stone wall.

In that wall

not far from the barn and the granary, 

a chatty family of field mice

had their home.

But the farmers had moved away,

the barn was abandoned,

and the granny stood empty.

And since winter was not far off,

the little mice began to gather corn and nuts 

and wheat and straw. 

They all worked day and night .

All – except Frederick. 

Frederick, why don’t you work?  they asked

I do work, said Frederick,

I gather sun rays 

for the old dark winter days.

And when they saw Frederick sitting there, 

staring at the meadow 

they said,  and now Frederick?

I gather colours, answered Frederick simply.

For winter is grey.

And once Frederick seemed half asleep,

Are you day-dreaming Frederick? 

They asked reproachfully. But Frederick said, 

Oh no I am gathering words 

for the winter days are long and many

and we’ll run out of things to say?.

The winter days came, 

and when the first snow fell

the five little field mice 

took to their hideout in the stones.

In the beginning there was lots to eat,

and the mice told stories 

of foolish foxes and silly cats.

They were a happy family.

But little by little they had nibbled up 

most of the nuts and berries,

 the straw was gone 

and the corn was only a memory.

It was cold in the wall 

and no one felt like chatting.

Then they remembered

what Frederick had said 

about sun rays and colours and words.

What about your supplies Frederick ! they asked 

Close your eyes, said Frederick,

as he climbed on a big stone,

Now I send you the rays of the sun

Do you feel their golden glow?

And as Frederick spoke of the sun

the four little mice 

began to feel warmer.

Was it Frederick’s voice ? Was it magic?

And how about the colours Frederick?

they asked anxiously ,

Close your eyes again, Frederick said,

And then he told them 

of the blue periwinkles

the red poppies

in the yellow wheat 

and the green leaves of the berry bush.

They saw the colours as clearly 

as if they had been painted in their minds 

And the words Frederick?

Frederick cleared his throat,

waited a moment,

and then, as if from a stage, he said: 

Who scatters snowflakes? who melts the ice? 

Who spoils the weather? Who makes it nice? 

Who grows the four-leaf clovers in June? 

dims the daylight? Who lights the moon?

Four little field mice who live in the sky

Four little field mice . . like you and I. 

One is the Springmouse  who turns on the showers

Then comes the Summer who paints in the flowers

The Fallmouse is next with walnuts and wheat 

And Winter is last . . . with little cold feet.

Aren’t we lucky the seasons are four 

Think of a year with one less . . or one more

When Frederick had finished,

they all applauded.

                       But Frederick,

                                     they said

                                                  you are a poet. 

 

Hildegard’s Encouragement in a time of a Pandemic

 

 

Hildegard always encouraged:

Live simply

Live in the moment

Live in beauty

Her way of healing, –  individuals, groups, the world is going to the cause of the problem and working towards  healing the cause, compared with today’s medical model of treating only the symptoms not working towards the healing the problem.

This is like putting a blanket on a fire to smother the symptoms with out putting out the actually spark of fire.

The golden guidelines from Hildegard:

  1. Viriditas   literally “greenness,” a word meaning vitality, fecundity, lushness, verdure, or growth. For us today in isolation and social distancing draw energy from nature’s life force.

This can be found by sitting in a park or observing a tree or listening to the birds. one friend took 53 photos from her window and it was fulll of colour and movement. Just be present to what you see. and the delight of nature is there for you.

  1. Healthy and balanced nutrition found from food’s healing powers

     3   Regenerate strained nerves with healthy sleep, exercise and good food.

4.   Find a harmonious balance in your day. Make a routine – stretching,   walking,  drinking plenty of water,  doing what ever activity possible.

    5       Be vigilant . Wipe down delivered shopping.  Wash fruit and vegetables.  

    6    When stress arises:         

(a) name it, face it 

(b) accept it

(c) flow along/float 

(d) Let time pass

(e) Remember no feeling is final

(adapted from Healthy Hildegard.)

 

Hildegard always writes and speaks about the interconnectivity  of all things

we are interrelated and interdependent on all things and it is only when we bow down to that and become stewarts of our earth will we be healed.  Thank you Hildegard.

Getting fresh air while self isolating and social distancing

 

Bush for us to walk in and experience a world away from the world

From our home over the highway which is taken by a overpass we walked down the road into a fragment of Australian bush  and Wahroonga Creek. So revitalising and refreshing in this world away from the world.There is still a lot of track we have to discover but today we just wandered along on the high track overlooking the creek and listening to the song of the water falling and running along as  a small creek.

 

Getting fresh air and exercise while self isolating

Social distancing and self isolation doesn’t mean sitting on the couch . It means being vigilant and very  carful of your discerning what steps to take to stay healthy physically and mentally  and for me this needs walking and finding spaces of veriditas that is green and moist and alive. and we have a few of those pockets of vitality walking distance from our home.

Normanhurst Park and Waitara Creek catchment today was vibrantly alive. The waterfall was singing and the place was alive . I will let the photos tell the story.


 

 

 

 

Olive Pink Botanic Garden: A research visit.

 

 

Our inland  journey to do some research on the Australian pioneer Olive Pink was done in early March before the Pandemic had been declared. We were aware  of the virus but flying inland seemed very innocent. By the end of the week flying back to Sydney, it was not innocent – we felt on tender hooks to get home. How things can change in one week.

However in that week of pandemic-innocence we had  very rewarding visit with Brekky at the Bean Cafe in the garden with the wallabies and birds and then each day the walks. Later in the day visiting other channels of research. We stayed in the Mecure Motel by the Todd River and behind the Gardens

 

 

Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs

The Garden

Today we treasure a globally unique arid zone botanic garden and continues to work towards Miss Pinks vision:

 . . .forty-nine acres of ground on which to preserve and grow native trees, shrubs and flowers – as a ‘soul-feeding antidote to the restless rush and materialism of what ‘modern living’ entails for so many in this isolated town. from Fran Kilgariff

Nestled in the valley of Annie Meyers Hill and bordered by the Todd River is where you will find the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. Its close proximity to the CBD of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, allows visitors and locals alike convenient access to the 16 hectare Garden including the 6 hectares of arid zone plantings in the valley floor and the native vegetation of the encircling hills.

 

Founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Muriel Pink (1884-1975), the Garden was originally gazetted as the Australian Arid Regions Native Flora Reserve with Miss Pink as the Honorary Curator. Prior to this Miss Pink had studied the anthropology of both the Arrernte and Walpiri people and was a great agitator and  advocatefor Aboriginal rights, which lead to her insisting that Aboriginal gardeners receive employment conditions under the award.  Jampitjimpa Yannarilyi  (Johnny) was one of the Aboriginal gardeners whom Miss Pink held in high esteem and was employed in the Garden from 1960 for a period of 12 years.,

From the time of Miss Pink’s death in 1975 until 1985, like minded people rallied to keep Olive’s Mission alive. Local gardeners,  water-conservationist John Blakeman, orthonologist Barry Bucholtz  and many towns folk  with many developments  to preserve the garden as viable. The garden and the Bean Cafe and were opened to the public in 1985as the Olive Pink Flora Reserve, and in 1996 it was renamed to more accurately reflect its purpose as the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. A voluntary seven person Board of Trustees manages the Garden. They draw on experience and expertise in commerce, science, law and tourism and are responsible to the NT Minister for Local Government. On my recent visit I met the present curator Ian Coleman. I had an immediate rapport with Ian as he spoke of his understanding of Olive Pink’s vision and understanding for the park.  He has the sensibility of a spirituality and a philosophy of the story of the land on which the garden stands.

Some aspiring and educational walks wander through the park.
1. An historical walk called the Olive Pink Walk,
2. the Mulga Woodland walk,
3 the Mallee Walk
4 The Arrernte Trail  and the marvellous challenging for us (no longer spritely) called 5. the Annie Meyers Hill walk .

There are Bird groves specialising in bird feeding trees, many seats to sit and enjoy the peace and educational nodes with very informative coloured and modern stories. Education is a key element of the Garden’s ethos with information available about the evolution of Australia’s arid zone flora, the traditional use of plants by Aborigines and local history in the graphic displays housed in in shelter nodes along the tracks.

Another valuable treasure is Peter Latz a renowned Central Australian botanist and garden volanteer. as he says at the end of an article he wrote,

Decades of dedicated work by Olive Pink, Jampiijinpa (Johnny) and other staff as well as countless volunteers has gone into producing this globally unique treasure -trove of bio-diversity and store of potential foods and medicinal cures 

 The Botanical Garden  Newsletter for botanical gardens of Australia and New Zealand. No. 3 July 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blakeman Shelter

 

Livistona palms at the Garden waterhole

 

pastedGraphic.png

The Blakeman Shelter

pastedGraphic_1.png

Livistona palms at the Garden waterhole

The Garden

Nestled in the valley of Annie Meyers Hill and bordered by the Todd River is where you will find the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. Its close proximity to the CBD of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, allows visitors and locals alike convenient access to the 16 hectare Garden including the 6 hectares of arid zone plantings in the valley floor and the native vegetation of the encircling hills.

Founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Muriel Pink (1884-1975), the Garden was originally gazetted as the Australian Arid Regions Native Flora Reserve with Miss Pink as the Honorary Curator.

Book Review: Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey by Colleen Keating

Hildegard of Bingen by Colleen Keating is, as the author subtitled A Poetic Journey based on the life of the saint Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179).

 

BOOK REVIEW      Women’s Ink Magazine  www.womenwritersnsw.org

Hildegard of Bingen – A Poetic Journey

COLLEEN KEATING

Ginninderra Press

ISBN 978 1 76041 766 6

Reviewed by BEATRIZ COPELLO

For those who do not know about this saint’s life, let me tell you she was an incredible and fascinating woman who lived in the Middle Ages in Germany. She lived an intense life dedicated not only to religion but also to science, art, music, politics and philosophy. Hildegard founded two monasteries and maintained active correspondence with kings, emperors and popes. During all her life this mystic had visions which she attributed to divine inspiration. 

In the forward of Hildegard of Bingen, Keating says she fell in love with Hildegard when she read a book lent to her by a friend. That love is evident in each page, in each poem, in each line. Through Keating’s poetry we get to know Hildegard, her life unrolls like a magic carpet. Poem by poem the reader finds out about her dreams, hopes, aspirations as well as her frustrations. 

Keatings’s poems come alive with sensory experience, her words are confident in range and depth and they are utterly clear and articulate. The poet could have been a witness in Hildegard’s life, she knows her, she breathes her, she has a familial intimacy with the philosopher. The author undertook a journey into the mediaeval world, the poems are factual and the events meticulously researched. They contain very vivid descriptions, we can see in our mind’s eye what Hildegard saw, like in

 

‘Arrival’

Disibodenberg, high in the forest
sprawls in the clouds.
The last mile steeply uphill
Secluded. 

A white butterfly dips and lifts.
Hildegard’s gaze follows it up
catches the glint of the sun
on the first stone wall.

Stoic buildings unfold
cloistered around a cobbled garth.
Their Benedictine monastery.

A monk in cinctured black robe
walks from signposted infirmary.
From beneath his blinkered cowl
he extends a welcome.
They dismount
Jutta falls on her knees in gratitude.

In Hildegard’s life the days pass coloured by monotony and sainthood and as the days pass so is her strong and determined personality developed. Poem by  poem the reader becomes wrapped in a mantle of words, words that tell us of revelations, mysticism, determination and sainthood. Keating puts herself in Hildegard’s shoes and cleverly she is able to recreate the angst, the bravery and the defiance of this incredible woman. We enter her abode, her orchard, we get to know the sisters and her godly visions. We hear two strong voices Hildegard’s and Keating’s the poet. Writing is a labour of love, the writer not only poured her love for Hildegard in the poems but also her skills and knowledge.

Intuition, growth, earthiness, inner strength, passion, justice, wisdom, art are all words that describe what emerges from Keating’s poetry. What a great way to learn through reading poetry! The poet has not spared any detail about the life of Hildegard neither has she left out information about her sources. This fascinating book contains an Epilogue, a Chronology, a Glossary, Notes and a Bibliography. In the final notes Keating says: ‘A Poetic Journey seeks a middle ground between an accurate scholarly presentation of Hildegard and a personal interpretation of her story.’

I believe the writer has achieved her purpose offering us  the opportunity to get to know a mediaeval feminist of extraordinary creativity. Colleen Keating has created a masterpiece. 

Women’s Ink! Magazine   www.womenwritersnsw.org    March 2020 p19

The Launch of Desert Patterns by Colleen Keating

A launch or not a launch

The beautiful collection of poetry Desert Patterns  is launched at a non-launch in a Desert Garden.

At the Olive Pink Botanic Garden in Alice Springs, Central Australia, with an idea of ‘no clustering groups’  which is now coined ‘social distancing’ we launched Desert Patterns in a desert garden to wallabies, a wide variety of interested birds,  skinks, the wonderful vegetation of this arid garden and to one very curious Euro ( a mountain wallaby who hopped down from Annie Meyers Hill to join the frey.

 

as I read  ‘quiet stillness settles into our very soul’

and continued:

‘maybe it’s the way the light falls

throws its arms around the old familiar  cliffs

brings them alive  beckons come

come’

 

desert patterns

the landscape dreams
of caterpillars and rainbow serpents
composed
sculptured
moulded for aeons
wind water sand
carved chiseled hefted
hewn
from rock and clay
heave of ochre red
weave curve wave

desert patterns 
draw us in                                                                

every escarpment every contour
named and known
as a mother knows its children
garments of beauty
that dress our earth
like whims of scarves 

desert patterns
draw us in 

the night sky dreams
of journeys emus echidnas
black spaces
compose
shimmer
imagination
reflects ancient stories

desert patterns
draw us in 

 

 

 desert garden  18/03/2020 ( written the day of the launch . Not in the poetry book)

already some have gathered under the umbrellas
conversations tête-à-tête over coffee
hushed murmurs like one makes in a cathedral
standing in the presence of awe-inspiring domes
and zig-zag shimmer
of coloured floors of lead-light reflection

here dreamy gold light catches the tips of ghost gums –
Namatjira’s signature –that breaks the silence from long ago
how arrogant in our colonising we had become
from rocky boulders rustic-red breaks in the hills
flames out in mica shine
wallabies laze in shady groves of Mulga.

magpies sing from spindly river gums
and one wallaby sits in red sand nearby
no doubt waiting for left over fare.

all morning the magpies watch me in the garden
their bodies wiry sleek and mottled
a good reminder of yin and yang
the balance that we always seek

I write in my journal sip my coffee
nibble on toasted fruit loaf with tiny strips of cherry
spread with whipped cinnamon butter.
Around us spinifex pigeons enjoy the company

I am startled by beauty wherever i look
and I wonder how proud Olive Pink would be
to see us all enjoying the peace of her long ago vision

 

Mother and joey                                                                 sun set from Anzac Hill in Alice

Thanks to all our supporters, . Thanks to Ginninderra Press and to the magic of Inland Australia.

Viriditas and Hildegard

 

Thanks to Healthy Hildegard for the photo and the idea to feature Viriditas.

 

Viriditas

After the rains
Hildegard tends the garden
knee deep
in wet grass,
up to her elbows in soil,
worms, snails 
and ruff of leaf compost.

Marvels at the ramble 
of a young squash vine,
a stray seed gone free.

Lingers in the fragrance
of chives and basil,
coriander, lavender and mint,
and the smell of parsley.

Savours their bouquet.
Being jubilant
with the flirt of white moths,
and the canticle of bird song
from an oak branch above.

Dwells on her knees
as if in prayer.

Hildegard stands
her hands on her lower back
stretches and arches
skywards.Wisping clouds
ruffle. Light whispers,

I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh
with the joy of life. 

Fearful of her own mystery
she clams shut this Light
into the tight knot of her gut.

*Viriditas means “greenness” – vitality, lushness, verdure, fecundity, growth.   It has its earliest connection to Hildegard von Bingen. 

It seems a perfect expression of the living green captured by the soul as the light dances over grass and leaf life.  

With the term Viriditas, Hildegard of Bingen meant to describe a fundamental force in nature and the cosmos that binds people with animals, minerals, and plants.

Viriditas, the power of nature

A greening power, as Hildegard described it, exists in all things and is the basis for all healing in people and of the earth.

This greening powere exists as a symbol of prosperity and vitality, with plants blooming, growing, germinating and bearing fruit.

We lose our greening power through apathy, monotony and stress in everyday life.

We lose our greening power when 

However, we quickly restore and preserve it through prolonged time and movement in nature.

Spring explodes
like a paint box come to life
spilling across
the browned winter-wearylandscape.

In Australia we wait for regeneration after the unprecedented fires we have experienced . We observe the tiny moments of  viriditas return.

I give thanks to all the wonderful people who are being proactive to save species that are threatened. eg the rare life of the green Corroboree Frog from the Snowy Mountains. My daughters who send hopeful photos of new life and promise me the trees will recover.

New life  bursting into our lives.

Desert Patterns by Colleen Keating

When we listen, this land sings to us, holds us, nurtures us. This land is the common ground that we share. This small blue planet is the common world of our existence. Desert Patterns is a collection of poetry that touches the membrane between two worlds with the breath of wildness and our inland journeys. In its striking imagery, we have a revelation of the significance of the land and of the burden of our Australian history.
‘Colleen’s poetic journey invokes the deep spirituality of our landscape. She immerses us in “a multitude of gorgeous images” as we stand in Tunnel Creek remembering Jandamarra, marvel with Monet at Kakadu’s “blazing-blue lilies” and dream with cicadas: “is it a place the gods keep/to seduce the lost like me?” Every step of the way, Desert Patterns will entrance you.’ – Pip Griffin
‘Colleen Keating in her distinctive Australian voice combines sensitivity to place with clear, powerful free verse. Her images are both striking and profound. Again as in her previous collections, her poetry is underpinned by a gentle spirituality from a woman’s perspective. – John Egan
‘Take time to enter the world of this poetic landscape. Colleen Keating invites us to listen – with all our senses.’ – Margaret Hede
Following on the publication of her award-winning poetry collection Fire on Water in 2017, Colleen Keating, a Sydney poet, has continued to search for a sense of place in country – a land that is timeless and always changing. Much country has been handed back to its traditional owners, while mining companies and pastoralists continue to maintain their position. Aboriginal art has flourished and more people are searching for a place to call home. Colleen has also had published by Ginninderra Press  A Call to Listen and a highly acclaimed verse novel, Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey. She has also co-authored Landscapes of the Heart (Picaro Poets) with John Egan.
978 1 76041 844 1, 94pp

Versions

Paperback

9781760418441
$22.50

Symphony Central Coast: One Land, Many Stories

 

What a moving, exciting afternoon concert  we experienced on Sunday 23rd February 2020.

Originally it was to be held in The Entrance Park and we had planned to walk there but the flood of Tuggerah Lake has caused damage in the park hence it was changed to Kibble Park in Gosford.  Kibble Park is a very pleasing park but we needed to drive and hesitated about traffic and parking. By hook or by crook I wanted to go to this concert. So we went. 

The concert called One Land, Many Stories brought together performers and composers to showcase quality Australian music – from quiet reflections on our personal space in a very old country to an exuberant celebration of shared values.

There were stories of creation, ritual and first meetings

and music that evokes the Dreamtime spirit of Australia, 

the grandeur of the colonial stock run 

and the stars above us all. 

Performers from Central Coast Grammar School and Central Coast Youth Orchestra, 

plus special guest artists joined the Central Coast Symphony Orchestra. There was a world premiere of a piece by Kevin Hunt.  

It began with with a smoking ceremony. Green eucalypts leaves smoked and gave off a wonderful healing aroma . Many bathed in the smoke but there was no need to file past as we felt the cleaning power from where we were sitting. 

  

There was a heartfelt welcome to country. The first piece of music was very appropriate for Australia still grieving after the unprecedented Summer bush fire season – Peter Sculthorpe’s Earth Cry together with some insightful poetry about lament for Mother earth.

Next was An Ancient Forest Once Stood Here composed by Sarah Hopkins. Then a very Indigenous piece telling the creation story in music, poetry with clap sticks in unison with the European pealing of bells and the earthy magic of the didgeridoo .

Next was Stars Above us by Stephen Conroy, then the World premiere of Kevin Hunt’s 

Yaggabantana. The  lyrics were sung in one of the Indigenous languages with the British settlers singing  in English as they learn and copy each others language.

After interval we learnt that Spike Milligan was a Central coast boy and he composed A grand  waltz for the Central Coast .  Next Aurora Australis  composed by Martyn Hancock from Tasmania.

Listening to this music one could hear the cracking of the ice and the fiery colours scintillating across the night sky.  It was an exhilarating piece. 

Not my favourite, but i accept we need experimental music. Kinetica by Mark Grandison was experimenting with sound and I could see the young people in the orchestra were really enjoying it.

Then we segued with poetry from Man from Snowy River and  and the music from the movie which blended into Waltzing Matilda and back to the overture of The man from Snowy. We could see those brumby horses go.

Finally We are Australia sang in language and English. Breath-takingingly beautiful. Heartwarming and healing. As Stan Grant says we are making the space for the conversation and we are coming together more and more. 

By the way, the birds in the trees loved the soirée. They made their presence heard .It was a delight to hear them as they have been so silent all summer.