Monday, August 18, 2014

A month

Good Dog, a whole month seems to have slipped by with nary an official despatch to HQ. It's been a month, this month.

1. We lost two dear hens. The first to go was Pamela, the sweet housechook who came into our lives earlier this year. She disappeared one early morning from the front garden, having spent the night safely tucked up on her perch in the laundry. We knocked on neighbours' doors, and phoned the local pound and the vets, searched for feathers, kept hoping that she'd turn up. Pamela was our survivor. She'd lived in the battery cage, survived (we think) a culling, got brought to our frontdoor by a neighbour who thought the best way to carry her was upsidedown, with his hand round her legs. Her first week at our place she barely left the patch of newspaper in our living room where we'd stationed her food and water, but within the month, she'd perfected her digging skills by turned our metre high frontyard compost hill into a minor valley. She'd sit next to Tim while he typed at his desk. She laid an egg, in the soft centre of an armchair. She liked to perch on an arm and fall asleep with her body pressed against a human torso. So, you can imagine, we've been missing her and furious with ourselves for not keeping her safe.

Pamela, learning the art of chook 

 Pamela in a sunpuddle on local newspaper

Pamela being lovely 

Pamela laying an egg on Harriet the Cat's blanket

A few days later, we called the remaining flock out to the green-patch behind our back fence for some supervised grazing. The green-patch behind our back fence is every chicken's favourite place, and when we open the back gate and call, everyone leaps from wherever she happens to be and gallops to the gate. And so it was, only halfway through her sprint across the backyard, Griselda fell over dead. Just like that. Gris was one of our first two chooks, sister to Daisy, and only three and a half years old. We didn't have the stomach for an autopsy, so have buried her and her mysterious cause-of-death in the front yard, plonking a just arrived barerooted peche de vigne on top of her.

 Daisy and Griselda ascending the potato patch protector in hopes of sneaking into the raised veg bed of temptation.

 Griselda, supermodel.

Griselda, in younger days, giving the poorly citrus an encouraging word. 

Griselda, upstaging the pea teepee.

2. And then I found out I was pregnant, only to find out a week later that I wasn't pregnant anymore. So that was a thing. In the intervening week, I had alerted half the town, so I had to unalert everyone (and so that's why people wait a month or three before disclosing up-the-duffitude ... not that I have learnt the error of my ways, being a serial overdiscloser on matters uterine). I was leaking half a ton of blood when I got home to a letter from the IVF people congratulating us on our pregnancy and advising the delivery date: 7th April, 2015 (W. Wordsworth's birthday, give or take a couple of centuries). This was splendid timing from the IVF people, who I have to say are pretty weird, what with their muzak-accompanied embryo transfers and their hey-here's-a-photo-of-your-blastocyst-to-help-you-get-even-more-emotionally-invested-in-this-highly-likely-to-fail-procedure.

3. Tim's ma visited from Newcastle. Somehow her presence caused us to be driving up the damp ferny foresty side of the lovely Mount Donna Buang. Halfway up, we slurped 40 litres of Donna Buang spring water into our jerry cans. Locals allege this water has travelled over a thousand years and many thousands of kilometres from central Australia. Hard to say whether this is so or not, but this water tastes sweet and clean and (I let myself imagine) sort of sacred, and beats our normal options: i.e., (a) scungy bird-poo-ridden roof-water stored in our watertank and not entirely recommended for human consumption and (b) chlorinated eau de tap, the anti-bacterial properties of which are not excellent for some of our projects, like seed soaking and sourdough propagating. (Oh, and, snow! It was snowing! There was snow!)

Mount Donna Buang in her least photogenic moment of all time, with dag in fluoro jacket, muddy road snow and 4WD hatchbacks.

4. Yesterday we set out along the outer northern suburbs' most poetically named gutter, Henderson's Drainage Trail, in search of tasty weeds for a tasty weed pie. It turns out that if you get carried away walking up Henderson's Drainage Trail, you end up at Henderson's Lakes, walking along a contrived water-front promenade thingo in South Morang, where your presence will only serve to taunt moor-hens and wood-ducks and swans with the false promise of tasty bread-crumby stuff you don't happen to have with you. If you veer off to the West, though, you find yourself in Wuthering Heights. There's this brisk, windswept hill that carries you up to a peak from which you can look down on all of Melbun. On the way down the other side, we interrupted three reddish roos, who hopped down to a fence line and then - bound - over the fence (the biggest one, anyway, cleared the fence like is was no higher than a toothpick, though the littlest sniffed along it looking for a way through rather than over). Further along I spied three seconds of fox, making a dash across the path and into a copse of gum trees. We ambled through paddocks, possibly illegally, until we got to Darebin Creek, and made our way home - with a bagful of plantain leaves, nettles, cardoon stalks, wild brassicas, chickweed and mallow for our pie.

Henderson's Drainage Trail, with Free-range Shopping Trolley

5. The almonds started blossoming. Springy!

Swallow Impersonators and almond blossom. 


  1. Next time I wanna have a free range shopping trolley or two in our weed pie as well.

  2. Dearest Alexis. True story: I got in the lift at my place of work (think Jarndyce v Jarndyce) and two men, obviously having a hard day, got in at the next floor. And one turned to the other and said, Of course, Gerald, you have to remember, Life Is An Emotional Rollercoaster. Which, naturally, both made my day and Made My Day, as it is both true and True. Thank you for such a lovely (ongoing) story xk

  3. Thanks, dear Kate. Sometimes life isn't an emotional rollercoaster, and I find myself wondering where everything went. Hope things worked out for Gerald & co. xx

  4. I am very sorry to learn of losses 1-2, and gladdened by gains 3-5. That really was quite a month.

  5. What a month indeed. I'm so sorry to hear about your losses. I had been thinking of you and wondering how things were going -- will continue to think of you both.

  6. Thanks, dear KateO. Thoughts, prayers, trans-Pacific vibes all very much appreciated.

  7. What a whirlwind. Very sorry to hear about 1 and 2. 3 and 4 sound like fun. I'm almost with you on 5, just a couple more days I reckon.

  8. I'm deffo putting Henderson's Drainage Trail on my dream holiday itinerary!

  9. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Bek. I've been eagerly watching different almonds around Melbourne come into blossom. There's one in a garden not far from me that's pretty much finished flowering already, but it's the cleft of two brick fences, and I guess gets some good stored heat from them. I saw an Asian pear in a supermarket carpark with some early blossom today, and again it must be the heat from that particular microclimate, because there are a lot of the same variety of pear round about that are nowhere near budburst.

  10. As the kids say: lol, Asparagus Pea! And when you've finished with Henderson's Drainage Trail, I recommend the nearby Edgar's Creek sewerage canal.