We meet at six on the stone verandah.
I bring merlot, spiced pear paste, blue vein and crackers;
the others – a Mexican artist and an opera singer from Melbourne –
bring roasted almonds, an opened packet of Granita biscuits,
and five squares of dark chocolate. I wave off their apologies –
shopping day for car-less residents was a week ago.
In the fading light, we settle on wooden benches
and prepare to share wine, food and stories.
When she heard only two other women were here, my mother said:
‘Hopefully a man will arrive soon … more interesting then.’
During their time at Bundanon, the two women before me
collaborated on a site-specific event involving seven tree-based mesostics
and performed it for groups of visitors, and for me, on Open Day.
As the opera singer stood by each tree in the garden –
Jacaranda, Orange, Weeping Willow,
Olive, Quince, Red Cedar and Magnolia –
her hair blew wildly in the wind, and at the end of each song
I said ‘Oh!’ in surprise and gratitude.
John Cage once wrote a mesostic for a stewardess when she asked.
I knew nothing about any of this.
More interesting when a man arrives?
I don’t think so, Mum.
I’m interested in anyone who gives themselves over to creativity.
And I’m curious when someone gives it up.
In the gift shop I found a photo-card of Yvonne in Tuscany;
dressed in a blue-patterned skirt and white sleeveless turtle-neck,
she turns away from the camera, her feet hidden in long grass.
I like the way I have to imagine her face,
just as I have to imagine why she stopped painting.
On her stone verandah, the three of us raise our glasses to Yvonne,
and to Arthur, and to my artist-friend Sabine,
who died in a car accident two years ago.
Then we sit back and watch the goings-on in the paddocks.
‘Look at the ducks,’ the Mexican artist says, pointing.
‘Over near that wombat … can’t you see? Just behind the cows?’
The ducks, like us, are on a huge adventure –
from dam to paddock, from artist complex to homestead.
Before we leave, the opera singer – a mezzo soprano –
performs her composition of the Jacaranda mesostic;
her voice, unencumbered by wind, floats poignantly over the garden,
honouring a tree planted in memory of a father and daughter,
long ago drowned in the river.
Bundanon has seen sad times. Joyful ones, too –
like this impromptu communion of artists.