... and upon our arrival, i found this wonderful book, a gift from vanessa cullen of perth college waiting for me (there she is, to the left, modeling the necklace she made in my stone soup workshop). so, an arrival with the arrival - i suggest you all check out the phenomenal australian illustrator shaun tan, who created the arrival and won numerous national literary awards and nominations for his efforts.
melbourne is enormous - sprawling - bustling - a metropolis in every sense of the word. (brian, if you'll look really closely and squint, you'll see not one but two church crosses atop those steeples. and i don't want to hear one single word from anyone about that damned sex and the city billboard. not my favorite show by any stretch of the imagination). this small town girl was in contant awe, walking and riding around with my mouth hanging open, taking in all the sights, the smells, the sounds.
and so. the retreat began, with misty's and my greeting our apartment roommate, traci bautista, with much excitement and laughter. traci is an incredible teacher and savvy business person, beautiful, and just as good natured, funny and sweet as she can be - how can all of that be possible in a single petite little gal?!
all too soon, after not enough sleep, our first morning of teaching arrived. the apartment where we were staying was far from the retreat, and the van taxi that was summoned for us and all our teaching gear never arrived. so, here came another, small sedan taxi, after we had spent nearly an hour standing at the side of the road.
i wish i had a copy of the photograph that traci took of the open trunk, all our gear stacked to the top, with bungee cords holding it all in! (thanks, misty, for sending it in! LOL!)
my students were phenomenal - absolutely lovely and talented and plain old happy to be there, things that made me realize that the long trek across the states, then the ocean, then across great big old australia itself was well worth the effort. i've never had such good natured students as a whole as did this time in melbourne (and that is saying a lot, believe me!); in spite of the hustle and confusion of first day's arrival, and steady bone chilling rain on sunday, everyone remained in high, enthusiastic spirits for the entire three days. i'll have a photo album (i keep saying that, and i promise i will) that features some of the shining faces and creations that i had the pleasure of being with for the retreat; but for now, let me share with you some things of beauty: artists' hands holding their own work.
all good things, as they say, must come to an end, but before we left melbourne for new zealand and america, misty and i were escorted throughout downtown our final day there. we'd also wandered around downtown a couple of nights before, when we fell upon some strange and mysterious creatures that added to the magic of the evening. has anyone ever come across a buddha statue that appeared to be watching football on an enormous two story high tv?
so melbourne, then, came to an end. it was breathtaking, exhausting, glorious, frustrating, incredibly stimulating, highly rewarding and alive - all of the things an experience with art and emotion and creativity in a big beautiful city should be (and then some).
when strolling across the bridge that final night, it occurred to me that it had been a decade since i spent as much time walking a big city's streets and enjoying it as much as i did. (new york, i still maintain that central park remains the loveliest sanctuary of all). goodbye, sweet city, goodbye beloved australia. i hope to come back and call you my dear friend once again, once again.