Magnetic sunsets

Our stay on the island has ended but not without a dramatic twilight farewell. These sunsets mesmerized us as we gazed out to Horseshoe Bay. We marveled at the beauty, the russet colours and time, for us, stood still.

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Mother Nature is reminding us to take time to be still, appreciate and embrace serenity.

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Sunsets herald a new day and celebrate our existence. We are grateful to have escaped the cold for a short time and now return to our mountain home. I hope you can find some time to stare out into your sunset afternoon.

The Rains Came

After ten weeks of no rain, suddenly the heavens opened up and we received a welcome downpour. Summer here on the mountain can be a mixed blessing. Most of the the time we indulge in sheltered, lush greenery, going about our business of watering, potting, raking or contemplating! However, when the north winds blow, dry our soil and scatter bark and branches about and the risk of grass or bush fires permeate our waking, and sometimes, sleeping thoughts, that’s when we become obsessed by the CFA (Country Fire Authority) website. Their current APP tells us how far the nearest fire is to our property. As a matter of course, we then have the cat boxes and chicken cages at the ready should we need to leave on a total fire ban day. Such is life on the Mount – a balancing act of mind over nature!

Therefore, you can easily gauge our relief when the rains eventually come. No, not like the monsoonal rains in the 1939 film with Myrna Loy and Tyrone Power – The Rains Came nor the other flooding and earth quaking 1955 The Rains of Ranchipur with Lana Turner and Richard Burton, but the soaking, refreshing and cooling rains which hopefully snuff out any lingering or smouldering embers. Both these films, you might know, are versions of Louis Bromfield’s novel set in India. As we live up here surrounded by trees we are the envy of Melburnian’s who often have to swelter while we enjoy a cooler five degrees. Further up the mountain, grand residences such as Darjeeling and Tieve Tara conjure up a romantic past as we experience what is known as a late summer or Indian Summer.

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Summer here is the least colourful of the seasons. There are few flowering plants in our garden right now. The obligatory blue agapanthus, the well-watered hydrangeas, many pots, some begonias, a few geraniums and silent hellebores are amongst the limited colours.

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Then, when least expected, a great spiny arch entangled in the camellias or rhododendrons looks you in the face. You recoil only to be greeted with tiny deep purple orbs. Your hand reaches toward the irresistible cluster.

20130217-220849.jpg The scratches and the curses of the previous encounters with this enemy are forgotten – one of the little joys of summer – blackberries! They live for another day – but only just!

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Meanwhile, we wait and pray for a little more rain, please. I might have to watch these films again! What’s it like in your part of the world right now?

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New Chicken House Update

Chickens all around the world will be green with envy when they spot this blue and yellow chicken house on stumps. Thanks to our fantastic neighbours, family and friends, the roof finally went on with much shoving and pushing. Despite the fact that we had to unexpectedly chainsaw a large overhanging tree, the house went into place quite readily.

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20121119-173516.jpg In fact, it looks like it’s always been there nestled under the trees. It was commented that it looked like a gingerbread house in the woods; someone else said we should decorate it for Christmas – no, let’s keep it simple, please.

20121119-175008.jpg If you are interested in Christmas thoughts and musings may I recommend
http://nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com
and his marvellous writings on the subject along with thoughts of gardens, life, community and simplicity.

We have really lost the simple pleasures of life. Indeed this little house has given us so much delight in its rustic existence; in its basic tin-tacks symbolism of a simpler time. I know that it will house chickens and that in fact it is quite grand for that purpose but it has been salvaged and given a second life – isn’t that what recycling is all about? In fact, just today I bumped into the little house’s previous owner and proclaimed its salvation. She was so pleased that she told me it had actually been their cubby house when they were little kids. They would bring their dolls and tea sets and play for hours on its blue wooden floor. Such simple pleasures remembered and revered and now, hopefully, preserved. I hope kids today still do this – perhaps they do it in a virtual world. I hope they can balance these two worlds; I hope they can sit on earth, on grass, on leaves and feel the textures and look at the sky and imagine themselves as important and have picnics, real or imaginary. That’s what life is really about, I think – simple tasks, simple times.

20121120-204159.jpg Now that the door is on, all it needs is a little coat of paint. My next post will be from the sub- tropics as I visit family and friends – watch out for frangipanis, my own childhood memories and the house in which I grew up. Here is today’s back yard deck view. Ciao.

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A Funny Place To Lay An Egg

I thought I was seeing things this morning. We were sure we had locked up all the chickens yesterday afternoon. We do have a renegade brown hen, she is always late and always the last to go in. So why could I hear her outside the kitchen window and why was she on the back deck at 9 o’clock? At this point I raced out to check on the others. Miss brown chicken eagerly followed me. She went in. A quick check confirmed that all the others were present. On returning back upstairs something caught my eye. Was that two brown eggs nestled on the stoney landing just under the kitchen window?

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20121116-204538.jpg That means she had escaped twice – chicken Houdini! It seems that the construction of the new chicken house had dislodged some of the netting and she simply jumped up onto the 6′ fence and out!

20121116-205208.jpg Two friends on the back deck.

20121116-205259.jpg The whole gang out today.

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20121116-205847.jpg This evening’s back deck view – 19’C down to 6’C at night – still cool.

The Lilac Tree

In deepest darkest winter I often look out of our back windows and try to remember the lilac tree in spring. Now that it is in full bloom, it is most certainly a place of great serenity. A garden, even though it is hard work, is a place to find that peace and tranquility which is often lacking in our busy lives. As school teachers, we find the garden conducive to thoughts and ideas as well as a place of welcoming for our neighbours.

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20121112-211447.jpg The back deck overlooks this great tree.

20121112-211839.jpg We had the great privilege of meeting the woman who planted this stunning specimen. Susan was a nurse with four little children and doing it on her own without any formal horticultural experience. It was her elaborate combination of colours, scents and shapes which we tend. We are then custodians of her vision and her carefully orchestrated plan to create a place of calm.

20121112-212458.jpg I truly believe that we must devote time to nature, admiring each and every change in the garden.

20121112-212833.jpg This afternoon I spent time admiring the lilac tree from beneath its arching branches. It gave me a different perspective from each angle; it engaged all senses – it’s wonderful colour, its delightful distinctive perfume, even the currawong flew in to sing its distinctive song among its flowers!

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20121112-214035.jpg I hope you can find your own place to contemplate, even for a short time, leaving the hectic pace and place, for a moment in a garden, whether it be your own or a communal one. I leave you with today’s warming back deck sunset!

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The New Chicken House

As we continue to feel sorry for our Pecker, the Plymouth Rock rooster, we have plunged ourselves into working on the new chicken house. For many years we admired our neighbour’s little cubby which was built for their young daughters’ guinea pigs. His girls are now in their twenties and the house now has a new owner with new ideas for his garden. It was with much delight that we were informed that he no longer wanted the little house.

20121106-201451.jpg A working team was assembled to remove and reconstruct.

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20121106-202749.jpg While the workers dismantled, it was clear that somebody – me – needed to provide food for these hungry builders. The day called for a hearty spinach lasagne, a large salad and perhaps a crisp white wine. The weather is warming up quite nicely but it is still cool enough at night for a substantial meal.

20121106-203357.jpg Now we have the walls and floor stacked up like dominoes and the tin roof nestled under the lilac tree. The remaining chickens scratch and scrape round it and this afternoon’s view from the back deck summons us to dinner after a hectic day’s work.

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A Sad Day

First thing this morning we checked on Pecker, picked him up and took him into the garden; sat with him and gave him his medication. His comb was still a little blue. There was a little shiver. We returned him back to the rabbit hutch; he stood up, looked around; his gurgling seemed a little less intense. I could see him from the kitchen while I prepared breakfast. We kept the lid open so he could look out. I even thought he seemed at ease listening to the morning household noises.

It was unusual to have rooster looking at me in the kitchen. The cats wandered around, quite in their own world. Remembering the vet’s instructions, we left him quietly and went about the day’s chores. We also had to go to the airport too pick up our daughter. In all, we were happy that he was standing; was comfortable and warm – he eve began to peck at some food and began making some faint crowing noises. He would sleep until we returned and then we would take him back into the garden for another look around.

Poor Pecker was not to see his beloved garden again. Poor Pecker didn’t make it – he left us while we were gone. I began to cry. Colin wrapped him up in the red blanket which had kept him so warm two nights ago. He found an old disused worm-farm box and gently placed him in it. He buried him at the bottom of the garden near the purple irises.

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20121104-165210.jpg He was the friendliest rooster – enjoy the garden, Pecker. Our backyard view today is basked in sunshine. It is a tribute to all the pets who bring sunshine into our lives; who love us unreservedly; who make our lives rich by their constant companionship.

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A Very Sick Rooster

Poor Pecker the Plymouth Rock rooster is very sick. After consulting the vet – he was such a calm and cooperative boy, she informed us that he had a trachea virus which may or may not have reached his lungs. We had done the right thing and kept him isolated and warm over night. She gave him antibiotics and instructed us to administer the liquid twice a day for five days and to let her know if he was not much better in three days.

20121103-195249.jpg He is still resting in his hutch in the laundry. I hope he returns to his healthy self.

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20121103-195632.jpg Meanwhile, we have been offered a new chicken house from our next door neighbour. It is painted duck egg blue with windows and a gabled roof. Colin, with the help of his dad and uncle and anyone else who was about spent the day dismantling it.

20121103-195913.jpg Fingers crossed for Pecker! Enjoy today’s back deck evening view. Take care.

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The Backyard Deck

The great Australian bush property or indeed city dwelling is incomplete without a deck. For us, our deck serves many purposes. It is an extra “room” where we can stop and sit under the shade of a leafy tree, enjoy the company of our neighbours and friends, observe the birdlife and even dry our clothes. This is the third reason reason why we live here: the opportunity to share our unique setting with others.

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20121028-194909.jpg Over the years, the deck has hosted Christmas lunches, friendly afternoon teas and smokey barbecues. It looks down over the bush setting of eucalyptus trees, the chicken house, the bird bath and the weeping cherry. Ever afternoon casts a different atmospheric effect. Here is today’s view.

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20121028-195602.jpg The colorful bird is called a king parrot: orange chest and green feathered back. Do you have a deck, verandah or patio?