Ribbons of Sunlight
Melbourne, Australia – Winter 1980
Nearly seventeen, the beauty of the bush and its friends enchanted me, small town life did not. My adventurous, curious young heart yearned for the excitement and expansive possibilities of the city and she very soon got her wish.
I moved to the place I then thought every aspiring dreamer had a chance of making it. Melbourne. Why not Sydney? Well because sometimes we listen to the dreams of others and somehow they become our own. I had always longed for the beautiful harbour city of my birth and younger life, Sydney but a cool guy on a shiny motorbike changed all that. Our relationship of a few months ended before I ever stepped off that train in Flinders Street, Melbourne. He was not, I’m afraid, as steadfast at following dreams as I was. So I followed his.
I found a job in a bar and a yellow weather board house full of artists and musicians in the middle of the close-to-city suburb of Toorak. The house sat on a huge block of overgrown mayhem which matched the inhabitants perfectly. Life was full of paintings, music, sculptures, markets and laughter.
I had run away from home, from a place where magic, pagan ideals, looking after the environment and being spiritual where second nature. I took one thing with me, Tarot. Never charging, I read for customers and staff in the bar I worked at and when things where quiet or I ‘entertained’ with one card draws during busy times. Tarot was a rare thing at the time, rarer still a tarot reading barmaid and my boss loved it. With the added attention came popularity and with that a relationship that did me much more harm than good which thankfully was again short lived.
I loved Tarot, seriously it was love. It still is. The imagery and stories in those pictures are a little world in my pocket and a way I found most engaging when it came to understanding life, those around me and the heart of so many matters. That deck and I had many conversations in that little yellow house back then and I knew that it was something that I would never let go of. I never thought deeply about the hows and whys and as rebellious teenagers do, I didnt care much for the spiritual, pagan ideals of my parents. It was the 80's and I was 'living the dream' of a runaway aspiring actress/artist/performer.
Winter came, a coldness I had never felt and an illness that changed my course. At first I thought I had the flu. I battled in that little yellow house for two weeks; no one really knew what was wrong with me. Doctors told me it was pleurisy; years later I was to learn it was tuberculosis. How I caught it I’ll never know but I’ll never forget the way it made me long for warmer, kinder days and familiarity. I wanted to go home, to Sydney. I didn’t know how, it all seemed too much and then those never ending dreams each night of sails upon a blue harbour, the span of her bridge, jacarandas heavy with the promise of summer, called. Still I lay in the cold of my misery and apathy.
One sunny winder Melbourne day, still recovering, I drifted in and out of sleep on cushions and throws arranged to catch the morning ribbons of sunlight through old windows. I was sad, alone, miserable and very scared. The comfort from the sun streams where like hugs and soothing caresses. They whispered no longer dreams, but now promises of jacarandas and flame trees, cicadas and surf. I slept in those dreams of change.
And then, the scent of roses awoke me. My eyes still closed, I imagined that somewhere one of those white washed windows had been left ajar and the sun and breeze had brought the perfume along to me. Then, gently at first but slowly strengthening, the light grew with an intensity my eyelids could no longer black out. No sound. I opened my eyes. Then. She was there.
I did of course have to prove I wasn’t dreaming. Instead of pinching myself, I sat bolt upright and slapped my face. It hurt, I was now wide awake and the woman surrounded in light and flowers with her glorious wild hair was still there.
The woman of flowers smiled and my heart was alight, her sweet lips, slightly parted almost to say something. Though she never made a sound I felt her messages. Hair wild red, golden, bronze, all at once. A wild tangle of strands, tiny plaits and flowers which framed an angelic face of mixed race which made me believe her perhaps slightly Asian, maybe Native American at the time. Eyes of blue vividness and the softness of one with infinite care.. She was exotic and angelic all at once. Magnificent and calming. Brilliant white light and forest darkest greens overlayed with a magnificent cornucopia of blossoms. A dress of muted rainbows. Of gossamer butterflies.
Back then in Melbourne, my very first thought was that she was a ghost. It was a very old part of Melbourne, the little yellow house sat on foundations almost as old as settlement. She smiled at me and took a flower from her hair, brushed it across her cheek. Though the perfume of roses still permeated the air, it was another bloom but still somehow familiar. Tiny tiny flower of felt. Flannel Flower.
I had stood and when I briefly glanced away she was gone. The room was still filled with perfume, warmth and love. I coughed, the wracking cough I was plagued with, then walked to the sink to grab another glass of water. A ghost? For many hours I sat on the front steps and walked the wild ‘gardens’ of the little weather board house in Toorak. This house was an old remain of the past, was the lady one also?
That afternoon one of my housemates returned. I so wanted to share my story but thought he would think me delirious in my illness. I started with the standard, “Do you believe there are ghosts?” His answer was quick, “Did you see one?” The opening was clear so I took it and plunged into sharing of my encounter. He listened, interested and then said something that was to be the very beginning of what you are reading today.
“She was either an Angel because they often come with the scent of Roses or perhaps she was your guide but I don’t think she was a ghost.” Having just about zero knowledge of angels due to a non-religious though Pagan upbringing and only a tiny idea of guides, (hey I didnt listen to my Mum either!) I was intrigued. As I said, I read tarot so wasn’t entirely ignorant but I had taken things no deeper.
At first I imagined she may have been an angel as she was so beautiful and my friends’ comment on her rose perfume seemed to fit very well. I had never been so terrifyingly unwell so perhaps, I reasoned, I was blessed in some way with the healing and grace of a celestial visit.
Vince, my housemate, and I returned to the lounge room and there it was, laying in a ribbon of sunlight. The tiny tiny flower. Flannel Flower, not common to Melbourne at all. It’s white-grey petals a twist protecting it’s centre. Holding it in my hand I stoked it’s velvet softness, then held it to my cheek. No scent, no roses. I showed my friend and understood all at once.
My happiest childhood days where spent tumbling in the Flannel Flower carpeted fields of North Head, Sydney.
(Sydney Flannel Flowers)
(North Head, Sydney Australia)
Within a few short months it was Spring, I found a ground floor flat, waters edge, Kirribilli, Sydney. Musicians, business people and me, the artist. I spent my days painting, mostly flowers and weekends reading tarot at markets. Life was good, people where good and sometimes, when most needed, I dreamt of the Lady of Flowers. More so, my lifelong connection with flowers as my guide had begun. I really believe it had begun at birth but had taken the visit from the Lady of Flowers in Melbourne to wake me up. At that time I had drifted so very far away from any spiritual path that a lifeline was thrown to me. I am blessed and grateful for her doing so.
(side note... I was searching for a photo of my old apatment area online and found my old apartment is for sale!
I smiled as I looked at the ultra modern facelift. It was 1/69 Kirribilli Avenue and this was the view from my bedroom... it was a special time)
Though life has taken me the long way round on its path, I never lost my connection with her blessing and gift of divination of flowers. I have found flowers in every step, as an artist in my paintings, sculptures and dreams. I see them when I least expect and when I very much need their guidance and wisdom. In the reality of everyday, in art, ordimentation, in conversation and scent upon breezes. They speak to me their warnings, their directions, their understanding.
Enjoy, find comfort and understanding but mostly I wish you to stop, love and listen to the wisdom of the flowers.
WILDFlowers & Blessings,