Always the Sun

An Aboriginal healer told me when I was young that we all come from the Sun and that we return to there after death. It's an intrusive presence in the desert, that hot star. Things are different in Europe, where the Sun gives people a chance to miss it during winter.

The Celts who lived here in Germany worshipped the Sun as a representation of the wheel of Life. Amulets of the sun wheel are found in the rivers here. The Rhine and the Danube were the embodiment of the goddesses who birthed the world. At home in Australia, the landscape was created by the Rainbow Serpent, who dug out the courses of rivers with her body. She made a nest of eggs at Uluru, our recent home. Rivers, snake--creation is all about movement and flow.

Winter in Europe had a transparency to it. Like the extreme heat in the Australian desert summer, there's a sense that you can see through to the bones of things. The trees lose their leaves in winter here. You can see the birds’ nests as they build them. There are waterbirds, long-billed and long-legged, I guess they’re storks, building nests high in the trees by the autobahn. ‘There’s a lake over in there,’ Claudia says. ‘You wouldn’t know it, would you?’

Stork and its nest in Madrid, Spain. Photo by  Bea .

Stork and its nest in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Bea.

Small trips in the car together are rare. Claudia is fully occupied with the day and night work of caring for her mum, whose bedroom is now her world. But very ill people are able to leave the body, you know.

Claudia's mama's spirit went far, far away last week. She had an infection and pain. She withdrew from her fevered body, sometimes giving us glimpses of where she’d been. She said that her husband sat on the bed at her feet all day, the other day, which was reassuring. But she wasn't sure who it was under her little table or why they were there. She was looking for her father yesterday.

On Friday she asked Claudia why we came to Colorado. I liked to imagine that she had been out on the piste all day with her husband and was enjoying a tall hot eggnog with him, apres-ski.

The delirium passed. Mama responded to the antibiotics we gave her and we had some windows of ordinary reality with her again. Her pain came under control, but she was not strong enough for us to be able to move her out of the bed to her wheelchair. When the sun was shining into her room yesterday, she wanted to go out. But by the time Claudia had changed her shirt and washed her a little, she was exhausted and needed to sleep a couple of hours.

Old millstones surrounded by flowers near the denuded hedge in the yard.

Old millstones surrounded by flowers near the denuded hedge in the yard.

Later, Claudi's Aunt and Uncle came. Their visit brought loving energy into the house like a zephyr. Taking a break from the sick room, Uncle walked around the backyard. Last time he cut all the grass it nearly killed him, so I was apprehensive that he would come in full of dread with all the work to be done. Claudia and I cleared some of the winter's dead wood and grasses already, at least enough to clear the view out of her mum’s room. But there is still so much more to do to maintain the order of her father’s garden.

I need not have worried. ‘So viele blumen!’ Uncle exclaimed as he came in. And it’s true, there are so many flowers. Miraculous snowbells pushed up, carpeting the ground under the fruit trees with supple white and green. As the snow melted to mud, bottle green moss appeared and now other flowers have come up all over the yard. There are splashes of white and yellow all over the ground outside Mama’s window. And if you walk in the garden, nooks and crannies reveal mauve, red and blue flowers as well. ‘Those are the ones you don’t have to plant,’ Mama said to me, with a little smile. The ones you don’t have to work for, which come as a gift of the Sun, just for being in the world.