Monday, February 7, 2011

For Trees Have No Tongues (Muse 4) (Part 1 of 2)

First Muse Part 1
First Muse Part 2
Deep Sleep, Deep Space, Deep Shit
Reluctant Titans Part 1
Reluctant Titans Part 2
Fuck Origami
Ein Plein Air Part 1
Ein Plein Air Part 2

The glory of the river and plain spread before them, far below the silken tops of river-oaks and waters like black opals. Noon's sun bearing down and the brightness of the sky a blinding contrast wrings them to a pitch of excitement as if in a fiery trance then pause, as they stamp their impression upon canvas and each other. 

As dark encroaches, the red Concord coach draws to a halt. Jeremy hurls the carpet bag to the waiting groom and takes a seat among the 8 passengers bound south. The team of six harnessed and at the ready would take them 16 miles at a time before being swapped for fresh horses and permitting short breaks. It will take them a good three days to arrive at their destination. The 'whip' shouts 'ahoy boys' and the team moves into action. 

Jeremy removes his hat and greets his fellow passengers. A prospector returning from the fields, a matron in black accompanied by a small boy and a woman. A woman of some substance he assumes judging by her sartorial elegance and the jewellery around her neck.  She smiles, removes her glove and extends a hand. She introduces herself as Eliza Vale.  Conversation flows. Beside her rests a small folded easel and a neatly packed wicker basket, he assumes crammed with pastels and paints, "You're an artist?" he quizzes, "Trying to be," she retorts. "I'm on my way to an artist's camp in Richmond."  He's delighted that she will be travelling the full distance and to the same destination.. "I sketch a little but need to work with pastels and paint.  I have a little place on the Hawkesbury near Windsor, you should visit. The views a are beautiful and the tranquility conducive to painting." She nods and smiles a wry smile, "I'll do that."

Being in constant company, enables them to become well acquainted. They compare sketches and draw together while teams are replaced and sustenance provided at each coach stop. They speak of their desire to paint ein plein-air as the Heidleberg painters have, absorbing the unique colours, light and character of the Australian landscape. They speak of a lifestyle in the sun, Bohemian, carefree and away from the increasing financial strains caused by the onset of depression and the dull social mores demanded by high society. They build an Elysian dream and wonder if it will come to fruition.  He watches her mouth move as she talks of love and life and promiscuous ways. They wash over him as his concentration fades. She is striking, not beautiful but a head-turner nonetheless. Complexion flushed with youth and the moist, pinkness of her mouth distracts him from her discourse. Her hair swept up and neatly tied, he longs to see it cascade over her shoulders or better still over his body. She too seems to enjoy his company and occasionally a hand will brush his thigh or stroke the sleeve of his shirt.

As the final coach draws into Windsor, the weary travellers alight. Unwilling to be permanently parted from his new found friend and potential lover, Jeremy hastily pencils his address and hands the scrap to Eliza. She smiles and shakes his hand. "Thank you, I shall look you up. It's been a pleasure." Her politeness fazes him a little as they've been close these past few days and he had hoped for a warmer assurance that she would stay in contact. She on the other hand has every intention of pursuing an intimate relationship but more pressing matters require her attention. He tips his hat, she turns and blows a teasing kiss as he watches the elegant sway of ruffled shot silk taffeta, disappear into the Post Office.

The ride to Maeve's orchard is short and he arrives unannounced. The caretaker, no longer living in the house after being forwarned of Jeremy's arrival, has left fresh fruit on the table and clean linen on the bed. Water has been drawn and flowers vased upon the sill.  The house is old and small but clean and a new hearth and chimney have been installed. The cottage garden once tended lovingly by Aoife is still intact and in need of weeding and a little care but he doesn't mind. The sun is shining in all it's glory on this wonderful spring day and he has all the time in the world to repair fences and to revive the garden. After months in the Gold Fields, toiling, he's ready to relax.

The property is beautiful. Now partially cleared after 44 years, the orchard is gnarled but bearing fruit which is currently swathed in blossom, heady scent intoxicating bees. The scrub is gone and eucalypts stand majestic. Their mottled bark in dancing colours of green and gold and every shade of brown appear to change with every aspect of the sun. The mighty Hawkesbury's banks are draped with weeping willows curtaining the shore. They remind him of Maeve's resting place and a small dart pierces his heart as he feels a pang of pain. Then he looks, lord of all he surveys and silently thanks his sweet benefactor.

He has means and property and time on his hands, a little cash in his pocket.  At least enough to stay a while and indulge his need to paint.  He spends days on the escarpment painting, along Bells Line of Road and the blue forest below in a palette of dancing impressionist light and shadow. It's not long before he's recognised as a talent and accepted by his peers. His contact with the artists in the area leads to a cluster of tents, a garden, woodstock and a water tub hidden in the trees looking out towards the great gateway of the river's banks. Crossan's daughter's farm has become an artist's camp but the province of men. The woman in silk taffeta remains elusive. She does not call.

Written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory - - River of Mnemosyne Challenge

Continued at:
Ein Plein Air Part 2


  1. Question: would he have had to prove that he's entitled to the deeds? Or was simply possessing them enough back then?

  2. I really don't know. I imagine he'd have to prove it. I guess I'd better include a last will and testament or something.

  3. Why is it he moved on so quickly? I was disappointed that he was able to shift as fast as that. But, I like that the next woman was elusive... for now?

    Ahhh, suddenly I put it together--the en plein air (oops spelling?) post, no? The painters.

  4. I need more of Eliza! Looking forward to her backstory.