I love this image of our fair city, so I’m reprising it from last year.
Last year I said 2020 was dominated by the four “C’s” – Coronavirus, climate change, China, and corruption in politics.
This year was much the same, and again I found myself overwhelmed in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Luckily others were better organised, so a good time was had by all.
Sadly, November saw the death of my younger sister Lorna, who passed away after a short illness just a few days after a significant birthday. For those who knew and loved her she was a very authentic person, or as my brother said in the orbituary, true blue! This photo highlighted by Keatings Funerals in Chinchilla is from her later years:
We met on 29 November at Miles Presbyterian Church to celebrate her life, as they say these days, and mark her passing.
Tears were shed, stories were told, and there was much remembering of the early days. We were five siblings growing up, a typical-sized family of the times, but there were always others in the house as well, such as Aunty and Grandma, and often boys and girls from ‘college’. That was when St Peters was a small, inexpensive co-educational boarding school, intended for the sons and daughters of Australian German Lutheran farmers and for the progeny of missionaries in PNG who spent every second Christmas with families in Australia.
This photo emerged from a shoe box left by my mother:
It shows my sister as a shy little waif, apt to hide behind her mother’s apron. We had just moved into a very fine house our parents had built for us. My guestimate is that my younger sister was about four years old.
Moving on about five years, we have this one:
Grandma (in the middle) and Aunty (Dad’s older sister) were there, as was the new kid on the block, my younger brother, just three years old. My elder brother was away at school. Someone was always away.
The photo illustrates how lustily we flourished. My elder sister was just 13. For some reason we all reached full height in our early teens.
Move on another six years, for the only known photo of the seven of us together. At the time my elder sister was living in a nearby town and had just been formally blessed at church to go and teach at Hope Vale Mission, as it was then, years before Noel Pearson saw the light of day:
I don’t think my parents knew what they had launched upon an unsuspecting world!
And wasn’t little sister a stunner!
In time she too made a life and generated a family together with her husband Ken, who sadly departed the scene on the last day of 2017, and so started a tribe of her own.
And so the cycle goes. A life well-lived, we will miss her dearly.
As I said, COVID put a damper on activities in 2021.
Through the good work of the Queensland Government in keeping us safe, and through its support for the arts, we were able to see the exhibition ‘European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’ in Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Here’s Titian:
Later, as life began to resemble ‘normal’, we saw the Queensland Ballet’s performance of Dracula.
For me, I still work in gardens and yards. Excellence was also sought with bonsai bougainvillea in one of the gardens I work in:
The garden has two of them, which looked truly beautiful when they arrived. A hailstorm within the first week changed all that!
I’m still learning how to prune and care for them, but the one above gives some idea. Sorry about the untidy hose.
Looking to 2022, it is genuinely hard to be optimistic, given the challenges faced by humanity. For example, it was very convenient driving out to Miles across the fertile Darling Downs during flooding rain, and not a single incident of insect splat on the windscreen. Years ago that would have been unthinkable. What have we done?
Edward O. Wilson, the famous biologist, alerted us decades ago to the importance of maintaining biodiversity if we want to keep our planet as a liveable place.
In May this year we drew some hope for the tuture from visiting the ‘Creative Generation Excellence Awards in Visual Art’ exhibition at GOMA which:
- recognises and celebrates the artistic achievements and creative talents of senior high school students from across Queensland.
This exhibition showcases the work of the 37 excellence award recipients selected in 2020 from over 500 entries submitted by students from metropolitan and regional schools throughout the state.
This work was perhaps emblematic:
The artist said she wanted to give detritus new significance and a ‘new life’ by providing a protective, cocoon-like shelter so that life could flourish within.
How the students wrote about their work was as impressive as the works themselves, as they sought to reconcile inner and outer worlds, to create meaning and purpose.
Meanwhile at our place we continue to cultivate the four emotions worth having – loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.
We hope you are having a pleasant and rewarding Christmas/New Year and wish you health and happiness for 2022.