Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And I was worrying about the crocs!

My home for the recent Cairns residency was spacious, well set up, and on the whole very comfortable!

 Some of you might have seen these images...

It was a 5 min walk to the Botanic Gardens and Tanks Art Centre... 2 mins on the bike I hired. I nested and soon got into the swing of being in the tropics, more or less... for 4 long, busy weeks!

entrance path to Gardens

I arrived home last Thursday at 11am and went straight to bed.... for 5 days. Well ... in between I went to the doctor twice.


Well... it was this little fellow...

Sand fly
modified from: Kettle, D.S. (1995). Medical and Veterinary Entomology. CAB International. Wallingford
I've just googled sand flies, or midges as they are better known, to find an image and this info. I could not even see the little things they are so tiny!

"Biting midges are responsible for acute discomfort, irritation and severe local reactions. Itching may commence immediately after the bite, but often not for some hours later, and most individuals are unaware of being bitten at the time. Biting midges have their greatest impact on people arriving to an area or tourists. Local residents seem to build up some immunity to the biting. In some sensitive people, midges can produce persistent reactions that blister and weep serum from the site of each bite and these reactions may last for several days to weeks."

Well, they sure did sucker on my legs! Must have been a lovely fresh tasty tourist... I had an allergic reaction like I've never had before...but discovered this to be not so uncommon! So many commiserated with me I soon learned how others had fared with these tiny midges. Everyone in fact had a story... their friend or daughter etc... so it became clear that although newbies generally come off worse for wear some people have a perrennial allergic reaction that makes them very wary indeed!

And there I was riding my bike each day over Saltwater creek past the mangroves thinking I might run into a crocodile. 

Who'd have thought this minimal creature could wreak havoc! I was bitten a number of times during my that by the time my exhibition went up my legs were looking a little savaged close to the ankles. You know how non-stop and all-consuming Art-show preparations are... I'd managed not to look too closely in my haste yo get things ready that it was only a day after the opening that a lovely visitor to the gallery took one look and said..."oh you are from out of town! Get thee to the doctor now!"
Bless my visitor from Kuranda! Her tales were effective as was her care!

That aside... it was a brilliant month and I have many blissful and enriching memories...  the reason I am telling you this is so you'll understand why I ran out of blogging mojo. The only online place I have been turning up has been my Homage to the Seed facebook page because its the easiest site to manage when you are bedridden, legs up to enable blood to get to infected lower legs... and falling asleep every five mins!

Right now I am sitting beside the Brisbane River at the park in New Farm, gazing out on the Jacaranda blossoms falling off the trees in the breeze and making the most of the free wifi that Council has wired up near the Rotunda.

Image found here
On my left one can see the river and the occasional City-cat passing by... these catamarans are the my fav form of public transport in this city. Walkers and joggers pass by as well, but its peaceful and pleasantly cool today.
Found here
A job awaits downloading photos and tying up many a loose-end from the month away. You can probably sense I am relishing this slow moment between commitments and activity. Always good to breathe out... guess I can thank the mighty midge for that!

When flying out of Cairns last week I had this strange sensation of wanting to hug the place - wrap my arms around the entire landscape and people there as I looked down over the views from the aircraft window. I was embraced in such a warm way during my stay and the time spent bike-riding meant I was a lot closer to the ground and saw more than I otherwise might have. My trip to the Daintree, a World Heritage National Park in the most stunning Wet Tropics Rainforest with indigenous friend Sheryl, a former park ranger there, was perhaps the highlight. 

I just felt so grateful ... no doubt where that impulse to offer loving arms came from! Below the plane lay the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet tropics Rainforest with all their rich biodiversity ..  and added to that are people of all different cultural backgrounds, many of whom I found to be deeply attached to this place, with great reverence for the natural world. 

So long to Cairns but I will be back... and of you ever get the chance grab it... you wont be sorry! Just watch out for the midges!


annamaria said...

Oh, such a mixture of blessings and pain! Well, dear Sophie, the midget bites you will recover from and all will be forgotten hopefully soon. The rest of your experience sounds like something you will keep for a long time, and I am so very delighted for you. Keep well, xx

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Annamaria...
Great memories will live on... Cairns is like a gateway to far more exotic and remote locations... I'm keen to see the islands of the north and the places where tall tales emanate from... true tales too!
Its a long way from big city values the further north you go... the indigenous people were certainly resourceful and no pioneer could have lasted long there without forbearance.

Mentioning midges is a bit of a warning for people to watch any strong reactions and get wounds attended to... ulceration is a stage to avoid at all costs. The extent of the inflamed, discoloured and blotched mess on my left leg made it hard to see what was going on without the doctor's help last Friday. One can cope with pain... I just didn't want some notorious festering nightmare to erupt given it was already so angry looking!

I was naive and once I heard Denghi Fever wasn't about, and mozzies weren't really around, I didn't think anything of the midge bites till I was in a bad way! Really took me by surprise.
x S

Anonymous said...

Oh... horrible! Wishing you a very speedy recovery, Sophie. Cairns sounds beautiful and fascinating and I'm looking forward to seeing more of your photos (and your work) once you're well rested and fully recovered. Take care, sx

Mlle Paradis said...

Welcome back Sophia! Oh dear, we have fleas here in So. Cal that can be quite as voracious. I guess you needed those five days in bed! The jacarandas look wonderful - take a moment more to recharge - we'll be here to catch up when you're ready.

Sophie Munns said...

hello Suzanne...
its been great to go slow for a bit! Hey ... i need some camera lessons from you, On the weekend maybe? pity you are in Amsterdam... i now have two cameras I dont really know what I am doing with... trouble downloading a few days ago. Must dig out instructions.
See you!
x S

hello Mlle P... thinking of you before, wondering what's doing in LA! Fleas mmm...seems everywhere around the globe there's something lurking to have a munch on ones flesh if one is not careful. forgot that being indoors with screens made no difference whatsoever with these mites.
Jacarandas are beautiful indeed... loved sitting in the park today...
talk soon!

Carole said...

Oh my, Sophie! Glad to hear you are on the mend after the midge attack. I had to laugh thinking about you ignoring the bites until after the typical of the focused soul! believe me I know.

I've been following you on fb but was feeling so overwhelmed after two weeks holidays that I didn't leave many comments, just a few likes. My poor husband went back to work to find files and messes all over his desk! :(

We have sand flies on the Island but they don't seem to bother many people. I did hear about a black widow spider bite in the summer.....quite a surprise for that poor gardener I'm sure!

I love the vision of you holding Cairns in you arms! Cairns must be a better place for you having loved it.

Take care and quick healing to you, dear Sophie.
xo Carole

Velma Bolyard said...

you poor thing, how miserable. i hope you are now feeling better, and can get back to normal. it's amazing how our poor skins can be so tough, yet so fragile. do get all better!

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

What a treat to read this post. A complete heart writing of time perfectly spent...never mind the midges, I was enthralled reading your acknowledgements and viewing the photos. ..thank you. I won't be seeing these treasures in person but you have taken me there and I will follow up with some library research!
Midges sound awful...good healing days ahead for you!!

Sophie Munns said...

One has to laugh Carole...
was getting round on a bike for a few weeks feeling almost minute the deadline was upon me, I'd twisted my left ankle a little, come off the bike and peddle got my left leg where the sores were getting redder. It was like it there was a sign on it inviting trouble!
But was I going to stop and put my leg up when an offer to go to the Daintree rainforest the day before the show! DIdn't consider it for a minute!

Post holiday chaos... can see you rolling your eyes at your home-coming Carole!
Thank god we break routine... get out and see the world. I've spent 30 mins in my studio max since coming home... where to start I wonder!
Soon though it will be same as before ... routine settling in!
dont worry about the online communications... sometimes it just gives way to other stuff!
xo S

Sophie Munns said...

Thank you for your warm thoughts Velma...
Its curious how an incident can teach you a bit more ... skin is certainly amazing! i was reminded the other day its is the largest organ of the body.
Things of the mind can seem so much more interesting as we get older... yet without the co-operation of the physical its not so good!
Hope you're going well over there!

Sophie Munns said...

i have some writing up of wonderful things from up north yet to do... so I'm glad you are going to research this region. There were people visiting from all round the globe ... plus its a place people seem drawn to make home for a while!
It feels like there are a lot of stories there.... many go looking for something more ... less tamed nature ... not sure!
Lovely to hear from you...

Chemin des Muguets said...

Hi Sophie,

I hope you're right as rain now. What a thrilling experience you are having (aside from the bites). We spent 6 years on the Mornington Penninsula. Love Australia and its people. Lucky you! Cheers and Good Health, Marjorie

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Marjorie,
lovely to read your message this morning.
It was an excellent time in Cairns...and now back home getting into routine life again.
The Mornington Peninsula is wonderful and sometimes I miss that gentle rural landscape, the bay and wild coast. I lived in Melbourne for 12 years so spent some time there as well!.
Best to you,