“Down, down, baby, down by the roller coaster…” says the children’s game and substitute Ferris Wheel for Roller Coaster and thus began my down time down under. I lay in the grass on South Bank in Brisbane, Australia looking up at the giant wheel and then finished reading my book to ease myself into a “summertime and the livin’ is easy” mode.
It has been a busy, intense and joyful six days. A dizzying variety of venues that used just about every skill I’ve cared to develop—University classes, adult Orff workshop, public lecture, jazz concerts for kids, three days at three different schools working and playing with kids from 5 to 11 years old with other teachers observing. Long, varied and always fun eight-hour days followed by dinner and back to my studio apartment to plan the next one.
But according to one tradition, even the Creator of the Universe needed to rest on the seventh day and so after a quick trip up Mt. Coot-ha with my host to take in the view, she dropped me at South Bank and I had the evening to myself. The weather was perfect temperature and after finishing my book, I strolled across the bridge to Queens Street and downtown, light on my feet and happy in my heart. I entered the outdoor pedestrian mall and then the indoors mall to see what was playing at the movies and my buoyancy changed noticeably. Surrounded by bright lights and stores with needless stuff and signs that said “Buy it! Own it! No regrets! “ I felt my spirit moving from loving wandering to consumer pornography. Luckily, the movies were all terrible, so I quickly escaped and re-crossed the river and inhaled the sweet summer air and watched the flowing water. Sat down at an outdoor restaurant as night descended and enjoyed the exhale of work well done and rest well deserved.
And what do I note about Brisbane? Cleaner than San Francisco. No obvious homeless. More middle class than the extremes of rich and poor. Many public toilets and clean—and men’s urinals without dividers. An impressive cultural complex with art museums and theaters. Good varied food—walking two blocks, I had choices that ranged from Spanish tapas to Argentine asados to Indian curries to Vietnamese pho and bun to Italian, French, Chinese and yet more. Some good gelato places—and after a month not eating sugar, treated myself to one. Prices a bit higher than both Europe and the U.S. Efficient bus system and some trains in outlying suburbs. No koalas and kangaroos and kookaburras out and about that I’ve seen, but many ibis, magpies, lizards, wild brush turkeys. No mosquitoes that I’ve noticed.
This afternoon I fly to Sydney for a similar schedule for another seven days. Never a dull moment! But blessed to do what seems to make kids and adults happy— and me, too. And get paid for it! Onward!