When I crest the hill I see the curve of the land cupping the bay and holding it up to the horizon. As I drive towards Mullumbimby, hugged in the palm of the land, the thumb of the lighthouse is at one end of the bay and the skyscraper fingers of the Gold Coast are at the other.
Each time I see this I feel the same kind of wonder that I experienced the day Dad had opened his hands to show me the surprise nestled inside; a blue diamond butterfly that had flicked its wings before flying into the sky.
|Drive Towards Mullumbimby: Karin Maier 2015|
Our farm was wrapped in the embrace of ancient hills that spoke of the time when volcanoes ruled. The valleys held remnant rainforests that drew on this alluvial legacy, making ferns and orchids that were too fragile to pick.
As a child I played in the cold, cold water of springs that tumbled down the rocky steps of waterfalls. I squeezed the silt, soft as silk, between my toes. It seemed like a paradise full of treasure.
‘What do you think I’ve got?’ Dad asked, playing the game that required me to guess.
‘A sparkly stone?’
Often it was a dandelion ready to be blown. Sometimes a piece of quartz washed from the mountain. But it might also be a beetle, shiny and iridescent like a Christmas decoration. Or a cicada, green and quivering with the noise of its life that seemed somehow trapped inside it. This time it was the butterfly.
‘Look how it goes,’ he said.
I watched its wings beat up and down. The propulsion took it into the green leaves of a tree and it flew there a while in the dappled light. Exhausted, it settled on a branch.
‘Will it die?’ I asked, knowing even then that all creatures have a time and place allotted.
‘Eventually,’ Dad said.
We stood for a moment, acknowledging that truth.
As an adult, I value that instance of honesty more and more. It held within it the need for urgency; to do what you can with the time you have. Your wings may be small, but they can lift you.
So today I am trying to fly - into an expanse of creativity, mapped against the contours of the place that nurtured me. Every heartbeat pumps a memory. I breathe the ageless air that lifted the butterfly and I know I am coming home.