Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas letter


after the rain

December 8th  2012

Dear friends

Please forgive me for not sending something more personal. You know the story: life is so busy, time is so short etc. I’d always imagined that as I got older my life would become leisurely and peaceful and spacious - but it feels like the reverse. 

This year has been especially intense - and also especially wonderful - because I have been a fulltime student doing ‘Visual Arts and Contemporary Crafts’. A one-year beginners’ course at the local Community College in Mullumbimby. 

Monday mornings during school term I’ve been up at dawn with the kookaburras ( sometimes make it to gym for an hour, sometimes not). I make my school lunch, make Felix’s school lunch, hurry him out of bed and through the obstacle race of shower, saxophone practice, breakfast deposit him at the school bus stop in town at 8.30 - Then - what joy! - I’m off to the Laneway Art Studio, and a day of learning and art-making. 

There were fifteen of us in the group this year, ranging from 18 year old Goth to mid-sixties retired advertising exec, a diverse but supportive group, united by gratitude and enthusiasm.  It’s a foundation year, so has been a pretty wild ride through everything from fabrics and plant-dying to ceramics, printmaking, painting, life drawing etc. 

It’s been humbling and at times frustrating being a beginner.  ( Why did I let my art go for 40 years after leaving school?)  Still, it’s incredibly satisfying to pick up that thread again. I hope painting drawing and printmaking will be part of life from now on.

Last night we had our big end-of-year student exhibition and party, with quite a bit of wine consumed and some of us dancing outside by the Laneway Studio at dusk to the gypsy/harp/kora music provided by a local musician...

(framed painting and lino print are my work)

Denis was our bartender

The night before that there was another completion: a huge celebration at Cape Byron Steiner school - Felix and all his year 8 classmates (14 year olds) presented their year-long individual projects. One of the girls made a film of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet - starring Felix as a rather reluctant Romeo - he did a pretty good job of it I thought. 

His own project - once he started on it , after about six months of procrastination, and six months of nagging from me  - was three large panels of artwork. Well he only finished two of them but they were well-recieved.
Each of the kids had to get up and make a speech about their project/ process in front of a couple of hundred people in the school hall. Huge collective sigh of relief when the whole bloody thing was over!
It was definitely a sort of rites of passage, a marker of their growing up. ‘Developing the Will’, in Steiner-speak.
school ensemble performance

Denis and Felix did a different ‘rites of passage’ in September, when they went off on the 
‘Manhood’ camp, with  a mob of other boys and men. We women were also part of the whole thing - farewelling them on departure day, welcoming them back on their return with feasting and celebration.

I of course had my antenna out for anything phoney-new age-y about the process - But it  felt like the real deal: They all, young and old, came back from their Secret Men’s Business changed  in good ways - hearts open, communicative, articulate, appreciative,  taking more responsibility. Very beautiful -  Though its starting to wear off a bit now...

We mothers got to sit around in a circle and reflect on our relationship with our sons, and also to do some ‘letting go’ as they move into young manhood. Reminded me how much I love sitting in circles - that’s probably the only thing I miss since relinquishing my half-hearted career as a Gestalt therapist. So I reckon I’ll start up a little women's circle next year - And get back to the blog . There are lots of things on the list for next year, after pushing so much aside to do art his year.

Well there is only one more big event to get through pre- Christmas - the ‘Gala Concert’ at school next week - I’ve volunteered to make curry and serve at interval. We’re fundraising for school orchestra, to send them on a tour in New Zealand next year. 
As it happens Den Felix and I, plus our fifteen-year old friend Thea are also  off to New Zealand in a week for some walking, silence and clean mountain air. Happily we don’t know a single person in NZ.  After that, Woodford Music Fest for...the opposite sort of experience.

Of course that’s if the world doesn’t end on December 21st as predicted supposedly by the Mayan calender. Mullumbimby is the sort of town where such ideas enjoy a lot of currency - though always with a positive spin - opportunity for spiritual growth, step up to the ‘next level’ etc. Gotta say I love this little town - we have finally found our community here. 

Denis and I are both in choirs. His - ‘Spiritsong’ -  is serious classical stuff; Mine is ‘Raise The Roof Gospel  community choir’ - we performed a couple of weeks ago in the park at the Mullumbimby Music Festival ( great event). Whereas Spiritsong’s gigs are in cathedrals, accompanied by organ music.

(Raise The Roof - I’m in red, obscured by Jess’s arm)
Denis is as happy as can be with his rainforest regeneration work - loves being outside all day, swapping Latin  plant names  with his workmates.

Then there is the Kitchen Table Writers’ group - started and facilitated by me, and now with a life of its own - we’ve been meeting around my table for a couple of years, sharing our stories and getting  bonded - last week on full moon night  we put on our first ‘soiree’ - invited our friends to come and hear us read some of our stuff.

Am I sounding just  too smug? Like, My God, our lives are so wonderful!  And I haven’t even started on the gorgeous Friday morning farmers’ market, or the marimba group, or the fun with ukuleles...Weekends and school holidays at Sunshine Beach.

Yes, we are blessed -  it is a good moment for this little family - and precious. Because you never know what’s next and things can change in an instant. Some of the people around us have experienced  terrible suffering this year. Illness, death, addiction, many sobering reminders that life is a scary and  unpredictable business. 

So...2012 for us has been a year of 'Making Hay While The Sun Shines'!

Much love to you - I hope your year has been a good one...blessings...happy new year...
And who knows, maybe next year I’ll get the hand-printed linocut christmas cards together.

xxx Jane  
and Denis and Felix 




more art by me


Debbie said...

What a fantastsic year Jane. You and your family are inspiring - and such great art you are producing.

Rossco said...

Thanks for the instant 'year in a bottle' view of what seems to have been a very fulfilling year for you and yours. Watching Calypso growing from teenager to young woman has also involved some 'letting go' and accepting by us. Hopefully we will get a chance in january to open our own year's bottle with you, Denis and Felix and share some more of that fine wine we've been brewing in 2012...Love, from the sweaty tropics!