Cloudcatchers Ginko No. 46 (Winter)

Thursday 13 July 2017

The Cloudcatchers’ winter ginko was held on Thursday 13 July 2017 in the rainforest remnant at Victoria Park, just outside Alstonville, on the Far North Coast of NSW. It turned out to be a day of sunshine, though a bit chilly, and there were nine of us to delight in it. Our topic of the day was: ‘Let’s consider assonance’ – which we did with various examples and some discussion.

We noticed a new sign that read: All Jali (black bean trees) are sacred to the DIRRAHNGAN (women of supernatural powers). In the most sacred places where the bean tree flourishes best of all, no one must touch the trees or take the beans. If the beans are eaten the Dirrahngan will punish the foolhardy ones who take them, and punishment is usually death.

Before we set out, pencils and notebooks in hand, to immerse ourselves in this wonderland, we acknowledged, with respect and thankfulness, all who have trodden this country before us.

There are abundant jali trees in the forest, (with their large boat-shaped bean pods scattered among the leaf litter underfoot), along with giant strangler figs, lawyer vines and lianas, with the fresh-scented air of leaf mulch. A couple of pademelons featured in haiku. A cacophony of birdsong dominated the ambience, so our ‘walking in silence’ period of forty-five minutes had a stimulating accompaniment. As we wrote and then shared our first drafts, an Eastern Yellow Robin and its mate came to investigate us at the picnic table. There was a consensus of opinion that this is indeed a magical place, and we felt privileged to be partaking of its splendours.

The Federal Hotel in the township of Alstonville, where we partook of an excellent lunch, has welcomed patrons on wintry days with open wood fires for over a hundred years.

This ginko, No.46, broke two records. One poet wrote twenty-seven haiku in those forty-five minutes! Another poet drove 208 kilometres just to be part of the gathering. [Apologies to Lorin Ford, who actually flew from Melbourne to attend Cloudcatchers’ Ginko No.12 (autumn) in 2008, and Cynthia Rowe, who drove from Sydney for Ginko No.32 (summer) in 2014.]

The ensuing email Round Robin is currently under way.

Quendryth Young (Convenor)