I may have mentioned to you before that I had this thing for the Magic Faraway Tree as a kid that verged on madness. I climbed a tree in our street, nailed some pieces of wood to make a ladder and seat in it and charged every kid within a 2 km radius 20c to climb the Magic Faraway tree. Yes the entrepreneurial spirit was just kicking off. What I wasn’t counting on was the fact that a lot of those kids didn’t have the same imagination as I did.
My imagination was as close to natural hallucinogenic mushroom mind as you could get. So I got a lot of confused looks and anger, had to give money back and ended up losing my street cred. First lesson in always Keeping the Customer Happy and possibly keeping the magic to oneself. We moved to a nicer house and a bigger street where most of the people were old people. They indulged my imagination and it was sweet.
My Then -stepfather decided to build us a tree house. It was not a plank of wood or nailed into a tree it was a huge spectacular castle nestled in the crisp, caterpillar squiggles of a Eucalypt. Magnificent and all beautiful, the frame of an old water tank had been chopped, wrapped and welded around a huge gum tree in the center of the yard. A ladder, a proper lacquered, polished ladder rested against the truck and you climbed up into it. The Tree house itself was a collection of old fruit bins put together to create a fort. It was high. So high, that when I looked out I could see all of Kyabram.
The top of the trees had birds and more air, the wind in the leaves and the sky seemed so much closer. Grownups couldn’t fit through the hole. This was important. This was good.
I would sit there for hours and it was the most magical place on the planet and even the entire universe. I snuck out and slept out there one night, carrying my old red blanket and my dog Deefa. We snuck back inside before the grown ups could find out. I’ve been scared of the dark my whole life, but that night I wasn’t scared. I was excited and felt like an adventurer. After that I couldn’t see why I couldn’t live out there. I argued the point with my mother. She must have been amused at the time. I remember she made me a picnic to take up there and a little stool.
Looking out over our town I would think about what it would be like as a grown up, the amazing travels I would have, all the chocolate I would eat, unfettered, the books I would write. What a marvelous life I would have, I wouldn’t have any grown ups around except my Mum and Nanna, and if I had babies that would be nice too. I liked playing house in my bedroom in between magic carpets and coming up with Toad inducing magical potions in the fernery.
That tree house was mine for 2 whole weeks. Then the day came that we went to go get milk and never went home. I knew when she gripped my hand it was forever. Don’t ask me how I knew that, but I did. It was a resolute feeling in my tum. I gripped my little sister’s hand, and my little brother held my mothers hand. With the simplicity of my child’s mind I remember walking up the street looking back at the house thinking, “I’m really going to miss that Tree-house.”
I was also really disappointed in myself. You see 2 weeks previous I had come up with the concoction of a lifetime. I mixed, blended and infused a variety of ingredients inspired by Chapter 19 – The Land of Enchantments (The Folk of the Faraway Tree for those that are Blyton-ignorant). In Chapter 19 a nasty green goblin had Beth trapped in a magic circle and she couldn’t get out. A spell was needed. So I used some tadpole slime, a couple of gum-nuts, some moss I found under a pot-plant log out the side and a small hair from my dog. (I had heard hair of the dog was good???) I smashed up an apple for good measure and mixed it all up. It took a long time, my arm ached and I remember feeling so intensely amazed at myself with coming up with such a plan. It was an ointment. A perfect ointment, just like the Magic Wishing Chair ointment. Two wonderful sources of information right there- it was un-foilable. So of course I painted it in the most obvious place you would put an ointment on a goblin- His Thongs. The bottom of the Then-stepfather’s thongs had magical ointment on them. He would mow the lawns in them like he always did and by the morning he would be nice. He would lose that angry goblin face that hit out and the nice man would return, everyone would be happy and life would be good again.
The very next day he started building the tree house! JOY! I couldn’t believe my good fortune, mixed with a little bit of excited fear that I had managed such a thing. I wonder what Nanna would say? Would Jesus approve of that kind of thing? Magical ointments? Oh-My-Goodness Gracious as that Tree house took form I cannot tell you the bubbling crazy run around the backyard with your t-shirt pulled over your head joy it gave me.
So the ointment must have worn off, either that or the prayer I said the day Things- Went –Topsy- Turvy worked. We left and I was glad to leave the Goblin but sad to leave my Tree house. Luckily my mother was brave enough to weave a magic carpet, I don’t even know how she did that. But she did and it really was quite beautiful, all its patterns and weavings twisting together for a new future in a different land. It ended up being the Land of Crossthwaite Street, the land of Fringe dwellers otherwise known as Housing Commission filled with interesting people, but it was Interesting and you must never ever knock Interesting! The stories we tell about it now would make Aladdin’s cave look lame. It was a place of treasure I can tell you, I found a special treasure in that Land; it was called Jacqui- a special friend that I still have to this day.
I grew up and knew that there is magic and hope and I can tell you that I grew up and I had my gorgeous babies, I wrote a book and my Nanna lives around the corner, as well as my fetish for Tree house Architecture I have an uncanny addiction to chocolate. The ointment isn’t really very effective, I tried to perfect it and worked out my Alchemy blossomed in saying prayers and making Candles.
I hope that the Goblin found his own ointment and his heart mended the anger, maybe he just needed to change his thongs. Now I look back and realize that as a child I was taking much too responsibility for the grown ups. Surely one must keep one’s ointments and magic to themselves and the Grown Ups need to make their own. I learned a lot from that time, and there have been moments this year where I wish with all my heart I could use an ointment to fix this old scarecrow brain of mine, take away my family’s fear, climb a treehouse and look at the world with the innocent and simple perspective of a child. Not sure which would make sure sense. One thing I am most certain of, everyone needs a bit of imagination, a whole lot of magic, prayer and love. Even if you are a grown up. Till next time, I am off now to find some wood and nails…