Sunday, January 22, 2012

Epic Hawkesbury road trip, Part Two: Cat Raffle & Marilyn Monroe at Wisemans ferry

This looks like a place for morning Yoga

I had set off yesterday morning, expecting to arrive at Bandusia's Permaculture Design Course in time for lunch.  It would be garden-grown luxury lunch, with all the creative international people who were certain to be there, getting into each others dreams and projects and more.

A series of navigational errors and distractions had my car and I miss lunch, miss dinner, and now we were going to miss breakfast too.
We had made a midnight decision to return to the river bank, re-cross on the ferry, and curl up for the night on the correct river bank.  There would be a leisurely breakfast for me, and a big tank of petrol for the Japanese car.  We could then get lost to our hearts content.
A PDC is after all a 2 week course.

It was warm when I awoke, and peered out the window from the back seat. A beautiful day! I had just set a record:  eight hours in the car and not one navigational mistake.
My morning yoga was on the grass, with river-washed air, in dappled sunshine. It set me up for a day of great expectations, a day where mistakes wouldn't even matter.

I wandered into town, seeking a pleasant spot for breakfast. Passing through a quirky little arcade, I noticed an unusual poster.
This poster that made me realize, people here at Wisemans are different.

The Cat Raffle

I could just imagine it
"Honey, we won the cat raffle!"
"Luv, we've already got 16 cats"

Looking closely, I learn the prize was a painting. The model is Reg, one of the handsome arcade cats, painted by a local artist

Take a look at the photo - its young Reg himself, inspecting his portrait.
The ear is back, a dismissing gesture.
He's not impressed.
Maybe he's getting a premonition of what the prize will be for him and his girlfriends - a community-supported desexing.

Sorry mate, but its got to be done.
I am impressed with this community.

Walking on, and who comes and greets me?

Reg the cat.
He stops me in my tracks. I drop everything.  He makes out with my handbag.
Charming, radiant with health, and letting it out on the world.

Another little cat appears, hurls herself at him.

So things have turned out rather well for the cats of the Cat Raffle.

Behind me a lady with keys is opening the Local Gallery Co-op.
I start chatting, and get the whole story.
Reg and Rita are the direct descendents of the original ferry cats, looked after by the whole town.
I love this story.
I love that the townspeople didn't just moan about the bloody kitten problem, nor did they ignore it and let the cats get hard and mean and many.
Neither did they leave it to the usual saintly people, who get landed with paying to fix it.
A kind of tax on virtue.
In a generative, fun way, the cats got what they needed, the artist got some fame, and the main cat lady, whoever she is,  got some food money.
Its all rather wonderful, and very permacultural.
I handed her few coins to pop into the catfood fund.

I've slept here, so now its my town too, and my cats.

Cecilia takes breakfast on the Hawksbury river
Breakfast was slow and delicious. I watched the Hawksbury river wend around the bend, also slow and delicous.

On my way back, who do I see?
Its the cat lady.
Mired in a frenzy of miaowing, as she tries to open her antique store. Reg's head office.

Karlene of Wiseman’s Ferry Vintage and Collectables

Here is Karlene, coming to work with her arms full of home-grown roses, and her ankles full of ginger cats.

She is enjoying her life and her work.  Check this out - a whole bookshelf of Marylin Monroe, a shrine to the beauty of one little lady.
"I taught a whole month of Marylin Monroe-themed English Classes, in Tokyo" I tell her.
We beauty addicts know, if you have to go to work, there is no reason why you can't make it lovely.

I like everything in her shop. Victorian fish-serving platter-knives, lacy. Coal-fueled bedwarming pans.
Back in Melbourne is an Aladdin's cave storage unit filled with things just as quirky and lovely, things I'm already in a relationship with. Things who are waiting for me to get my next house.
I'm not tempted at all.
But I am in need of a pretty cup and saucer for my morning tea.

This one is mine. 
It has many predecessors, I'm afraid.
But I can invest in it lovely memories of 2012, starting with today. It may still survive a long time more.

So I'm back on the road.  

The valley here in St. Albans unfolds its loveliness for me, curve after curve. Yesterday, with its perils and defeats, seem like the dream.  
Its as if this valley doesn't yet know that plastic has been invented.

I feel like Frodo Baggins. I know why he keeps adventuring.   

Very, very old pub. It smells wonderful inside, suggesting
centuries of roast dinners, wainscoting, and fireside conversations.

Have I gone too far? 
Its Bandusia, and I am a great, inadvertant success.
Arriving as planned, just in time for lunch. 

Cecilia at Bandusia driveway, Photo Penny Pyett


David said...

You have a lovely turn of phrase in describing your adventures Ms Baggins, I can almost smell the freshness of the "river-washed air".

And this is such an impressive record "A beautiful day! I had just set a record: eight hours in the car and not one navigational mistake." one almost needs to celebrate with a party and champagne. Always keep the excuse for a party low and have plenty of them !

I also know the problem of tripping over my animal friends Tim the Kelpy, Lucy the Wabrado (a Labrador who waggles with delight at everything) and Buster (part Persian kitten) to get in the door, with garden bounty, but I would never have thought of the description of "ankles full of ginger cats". It is so beautifully and visually descriptive !

I look forward to the next adventure ! :-)

Cecilia Macaulay said...

Im so glad you enjoyed my story David!
I too look forward to my next adventure. I wonder what It will be?
A pat for your kelpie, my second-favourite dog. x

Denise said...

I love your blog- always so quirky. You have a way of making the mundane fascinating and proving that day-to-day life is wonder-full and full of adventure. brings to mind the saying "Life is a journey, not a destination" The ginger cats did it for me this time- what a beautiful story.I adore ginger cats, but my last one ("Chai") was such a spicy mischief-maker that this time I opted for a big fluffy black and white rescue cat. Amazing photos of Bluey- you can clearly talk "cat"!

DEB said...

I have just given your blog the Leibster Blog award.

Mitzi G Burger said...

Snap! I stayed in St Albans for a weekend recently. On the way I was totally smitten by Reg and Rita. Now I know their story. Thanks for the reportage.

Anonymous said...

Cecilia, i was lying awake at 4 am, pondering and then browsing randomly, needing inspiration. Came to your blogd: you didn't disappoint! Thank you for your capacity to laugh at yourself and respect your intuitions and whims. You are living poetry! Inspired and aspiring, i settled and slept. Blessings... Heb

Aaron Marcus said...

Lovely reminiscences by a lovely lady. Bravo. Aaron