Last Day at Chez Varuna
I wake up to a cold, rainy day, as if the weather sympathises with my feelings about this being my last day here as a resident writer at Varuna Writers’ House in Katoomba NSW.
An update on my writing goals for the week. The only one I haven’t achieved is thinking up a new story. However, the time here has been good in focusing my mind on ‘story-ing’, and I feel something will come soon. Talking to the other writers here has given me some ideas. More inspiration has come from listening to the writings of members of the Varuna’s Blue Fringe, a group of people who have or have had mental illness. Their writings—so powerful, funny, evocative, delicate—has sparked my mind.
I have enjoyed living in the little upstairs room, the Bear Room. It has a single bed, plus a small free-standing wardrobe— an original from Varuna’s early days. Perhaps it is the combination of the single bed, the room’s sparseness, and the solitude here that makes me think ‘nuns’. And that leads to considering the contemplative life, and where and how this can be achieved after returning to the ‘real’ world.
The bedroom links to another small room, the study, where I have been writing this week. Everything I need is here: desk, good lamp, good chair, my computer, my papers. When I want a break I look down from the room’s windows into Varuna’s front garden. This morning, I gaze at tall gum trees, ghostly in the mist that has rolled in.
Surprisingly, I haven’t opened a single book on the shelves here. Each room at Varuna houses books from a different geographical site. The Bear Room has European books, mainly older ones from the time when the Dark family lived here. French, German, Italian, Russian, Scandinavian, plus some Latin and Greek classics. Even though I haven’t delved into any of these, just having them here with me as companions makes me feel comfortable.
I will miss the two quilts, one on my bed, the other on the chair in the study. All the rooms have quilts, the result of the Southern Cross Quilters’ Varuna Quilt Project . Each quilt is named for one of Eleanor Dark’s novels. My room has Waterway (1938) and Lantana Lane (1959). The Waterway quilt is all blues and greens, while Lantana Lane is more tropical, with reds and greens.
But now it is time to leave. I’ve stripped the bed, packed up my materials, put the key back in the lock on the Bear Room door. All that is left to do is sign Varuna’s guest book.
Another special Varuna week,
Writing alone but joining a community of writers.
As I write and walk, bush trails and mind paths converge.
Ideas drift in like the mountain mists.
Varuna provides the time, the space, to let word magic happen.