Peter passed peacefully on the 18th of June 2017. This is the eulogy I wrote for his funeral:
Peter’s niece Kveta and the portrait she painted for him
Peter was born in 1930, in a copper mining camp in Tasmania, in one of only 6 wooden houses on a platform built into the side of a mountain. The nearest town was Rosebery. There were no roads leading from the camp into town, so when Margaret went into labour with Peter, her husband Arthur had to run a good long way into town to fetch the doctor, along a dirt track beside a steep ravine. It was pouring rain and he had to use a lantern to light his way in the dark. Peter Evans had a two year old brother named David, and four year old sister called Anne. Margaret umpired hockey games in her spare time, blowing her whistle and running back and forth in a sea of mud covered in handfuls of snow, while Peter watched from his pram, and Anne and David chased each other over the seats.
When Peter was two years old, the Evans family moved back to Melbourne from whence they’d come, eventually settling near Kew Junction, a busy Melbourne intersection. Peter had an adventurous spirit, even at this age, and was renowned for wandering off. One day, when he was three years old, the entire family set out in search of him, calling his name. They found one of his shoes in the middle of the busy intersection, and they went into every shop along the street, asking “Have you seen a little red-haired boy?” Eventually they found him in the barber’s shop, sucking on a lollypop and getting his hair cut. Continue reading →
In 2013 I went on a wildflower spirit journey through Kakadu and almost didn’t make it back alive. For a while, writing the story was good medicine. That was, until I got to the part of the story where we were about to climb down off the escarpment onto the cliff face. The writing stalled for a year and just recently I’ve been re-reading, editing and reflecting on what I had written. The fact that I’ve been able to read it without nightmares makes me think I’m ready to pick up where I left off, but I can feel myself skittering around it nervously, so I’m backing off and looking for safe ways to re-enter.
Why do I think this story needs to be written at all, given that it could simply be a fruitless exercise in re-traumatising myself? I instinctively feel as though it may be an integral part of my recovery from a large disc-extrusion 6 months ago that has left me with numbness, tingling and altered sensation in my left foot and leg. And the following words, channeled through to me from Spirit during a healing from a friend, keep resonating in my mind : “I will help you down the mountain”.
I have the sense that part of me is still up there somewhere and I need to write my way down the mountain to bring her back. Real or not, this idea holds powerful healing possibilities for my psyche, but I also know I need to be gentle and careful with myself. It struck me recently that I need to revisit the cave I entered while on this journey, where spirit showed me stories and called me a ‘wildflower brujio’ or ‘wildflower spirit walker’. I have two strategies in mind for the writing/healing process:
Write backwards, starting at the end of the story and working my way back to the worst bit on the cliff-face.
Lean on the flowers for support. It’s time now to let them do their healing work. Between them and the spirit in the cave, I know I will be guided safely. I’ll use my imagination to revisit the cave so I can be guided from there.
I found this mistletoe outside my great-uncle Peter’s home in Mutitjulu, the Aboriginal community at Uluru. This mistletoe helps us let go of other people and move on with our lives. While this can include moving on after relationship break-ups and the death of loved ones, tie-cutting doesn’t necessarily bring about the end of a relationship. Quite often, it improves relationships, because tie-cutting removes the old rot in the space between people’s hearts. I cut ties with my father and my husband last year with the help of Mother Mary and Archangel Michael. Since then, my relationships with both men have been healthier and happier. This flower spirit also heals trauma associated with separation anxiety. Being forced to move on too quickly after loss can create wounds that cause clingy behaviour due to fear of loss.
Besides cutting ties with people, we can also cut ties with our own outworn identities and behaviours. This spirit flower helped me by reaching into my solar plexus and grasping hold of a blockage I had stored in this part of my body. You are holding on to the past, clinging tight to old ideas about who you are. You need to let go and shed your old skin. Have faith in your capacity to evolve, even if you cannot clearly see where your next transformation will take you.Continue reading →
On our last day of packing up my uncle’s home at Mutijulu, we dropped some of the boxes off to a friend of his because the tow ball rating on Pete’s car, which we were using to cart a trailer-load full of gear back to Alice with, wasn’t strong enough to safely carry everything. Pete’s friend was another ranger. She and her husband helped us with the packing up job by taking quite a few loads of rubbish to the local dump, as well as offering to store and deliver some of his possession to him.
Chatting with her before we left, we mentioned that we had a spare day and were thinking of walking around The Rock and then going to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). “Women aren’t meant to go there”, she said. “Men’s business only. I don’t even look at it from a distance!”. Food for thought. I had been plenty of times as a child with my uncle, who ran plant walks though this area, but my husband had never been and felt a strong pull. We hadn’t found the time to visit them last time we came though, while on our first Wildflower Spirit Journey in 2012, so it felt very important not to miss the opportunity this time around.
My husband and I just got back from moving Uncle Peter’s gear from his home at Mutijulu, to Alice Springs where he will now be living. He will be sorely missed at Uluru. He has been an incredible source of support for the local community and has put decades of valuable work in as an arid zone botanist, well respected as an irreplaceable fount of knowledge.
Our rescue mission went beautifully, thanks to some brilliant planning by Steve. On the friday we arrived in Alice, we helped Pete pack up his caravan, then we cleaned out his car. We picked up a hire trailer and some packing materials and conferred with Pete about what needed to be done. The next day Steve drove out early and my cousin dropped me off at the airport after a lovely lunch with her and my mum. My chronic sciatic injury isn’t car-friendly, so I had to fly!
Stephen arrived the same time I did and he collected me from the airport. After dropping things off to our hotel room, we went to my uncle’s demountable on the community, spent a few hours throwing out rubbish and drove back to the room on sunset. I absolutely love the view of The Rock from the community. Lots of good memories! I remember spending hours playing with my brother in Pete’s ultra-lite glider, pretending we were flying; gazing through telescopes while Pete taught us how to recognise venus, mars and saturn; and listening to him telling us dreamtime stories about The Rock.
It took us another four days of packing and cleaning to finish the job and we made some friends with a nearby local family who claimed the old bike I used to ride around on when I was a child, along with a smorgasbord of other goodies like food and a couple of old chairs. We also left lots in the shed, which uncle donated to the arts community, along with the demountable. On the last day, we got up before dawn and walked around the rock, then we went to Kata Tjuta. To my delight, there were lots of flowers after all the rain, and incredible memories came flooding back of childhood visits to places that are now closed off to the public. I’m glad the locals are reclaiming their space.
On friday I flew back to Alice while Stephen drove back with the loaded trailer. It was lovely to connect with family and I’m hoping to go back again in a few months time, to help sort through some of Pete’s gear and get some interviews done with him. It was really beautiful to hear over and over again the love and respect everyone at Uluru held for him…. they will miss him so much. He leaves a legacy of important botanical work and great kindness in his wake. Other rangers are taking over with the plant walks, but who will now buy and deliver a weekly box of fruit to the local community school? Some are talking about setting up a special garden in his honour, with the aboriginal names for the plants featured; my uncle is very concerned about this knowledge being lost.