Daily offering ritual at the gate of Melanie's home in Ubud.
I visited Bali for the first time in 1973. Then as a young woman, I was deeply moved by the beauty of the island and her people. Balinese to me were the epitome of grace and magic. Their stories of gods and the spirits of the natural elements were the essence of my love affair with Bali. There were many visits over the years and I established a firm relationship in her culture and the art of natural healing.
I returned recently to Ubud, a village of rice fields, deep river gorges and artisans in the foothills. Some days I could see the outlines of the volcanoes, Agung and Batur in the distance. Their quiet solitude is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of downtown Ubud with its choking streets of traffic and tourists whose numbers I presume have doubled since the last time I was here. No matter, this is still my beloved Bali, and there are too many secret winding paths that lead to rice fields, vegetable gardens and rivers, all away from the downtown bustle.
I had come back to Bali to visit a dear friend, who is like a sister to me. Melanie is an alchemist and creator of plant based remedies. She has been an inspiration to me to do the work I do with plants.
The visit was tinged with some sadness however. Barbara, a special lady who both Melanie and I loved had passed on recently. She had lived and practiced her art in Bali for many years, and her sudden leaving brought home to me the realisation, with some regret, at how much I have neglected keeping in touch with her.
So I give Melanie a longer hug and cherished the time we had together in her beautiful garden home in Ubud, Bali. And to Barbara, " I love you and wonderful journeys my sister".