Along Fairy Lane we wander

Daphne has retired for another year and we would mourn it leaving but for those equally amazing friends that follow. Like the soft star petals of the clematis that have opened to sprawl their beauty casually over the tops of young wattles and weave thru the fine needle like leaves of the Far Away Tree.  The coral pink of the peach blossoms strut to the tips of the branches and gently carpet the ground underneath .   Wrens flit after each other chasing the deep sensual pull of hormones and breeding, a compulsion to taste the other, to nest to create.

The Far Away Tree is a gracious native bush cherry within easy sight of the east verandah not far from the redundant top car park. Back in the days of a young family John carved out wooden steps in a wood block that he lent against the trunk so the girls could reach the first spreading branch. Inspired by our readings of Enid Blyton and the Far Away Tree the girls would scamper like monkeys up as high as they felt they could go and then sit and wait for a magical world to visit them. Returning to the house with knees rubbed, clothing skewed, bark and leaves tangled in their hair and eyes shining with the telling of tales tall and true.

On a weekend morning one two three four girls would giggle and moon their way into our bed. A short distance across the room the world of Narnia beckoned. First one would bravely climb in and shut the door . ‘It’s dark in here. ‘Sometimes we would hear a whimper. ‘ It’s soooo cold. ‘Some of them lasted seconds some a few minutes and some returned shivering carrying the  horror  of the confrontation with the Ice Queen.

Where does the magic go?

Who holds it in their hands now?

Why do we shrug it off  like a cardigan outgrown?

To be Grown up is serious business  – jobs careers material pleasures, erotic liaisons, debt mortgages family planning, a suit a tie a uniform, bland clothes moderate voices, no break dancing in the street, no bold singing or humming to the tune in your head, no baring the body and jumping in the waves, no hand stands on the beach no hint of wild.

Before Narnia and before the Far Away Tree there was ‘Lets go down Fairy Lane ‘ and hands would clap and smiles would leap onto little faces. Fairy Lane,  a track winding it’s way thru the forest to a gate that led out into the farmer’s paddocks and gave us access to our neighbours the Heaslips. It took the girls to boy fun and games with Seven and Leon. It gave us friendship and fine food cooked by Christine, fireworks nights engineered by a visiting Howie and rude insights and music from James.

Along Fairy Lane we  wander cake and flowers cradled preciously in little arms , gifts for the fay folk. At a spot where trees grew tall and many branched, where creepers tangled into hedges and moss and ferns sang loudly of the faerie realm the girls would leave their offerings. Returning in the dark time under moonlight little feet tripping on roots along the way shooshing each other as we got closer, keen for a sighting hopeful for a sign and Seriously Excited when they discovered that the cakes were gone and gifts had been left for them.

Beside fire beside water on the earth lying under clouds and sky children rise to the possibilities held within creations dance. They pick up their textas and draw  the stories.  With their voices they make up words and sing the songs and with their bodies they dance the mystery.

Sometimes a star would fizzle  in the night sky and race towards the earth disappearing from our view. Make a wish make a wish make a wish and it will come true. What else could we do but gather our star detectors and head off looking for the fallen star.

We trampled thru the forest finding wombat burrows  curly leaves and nests cupped in branches. We discovered silver bits of paper caught in a shrub, a shiny stone pressed up against a rotten log, a silvery web slung across a bush, a dewdrop glinting in  sunshine,a silvery flash from a wing turning in the top of a tree,  pieces of old burnished rusty metal  and some old bleached bones. It didn’t matter what we found, it didn’t matter what it was. All of it told us the story of the star that fell out of the sky and came to rest in our forest.

It is no hardship to imagine in childhood, to see thru the veil into other dimensions. It is no hardship to dream and believe in magic. It is not difficult to make a wish come true. The alchemy of turning mud pies into food ,stones into stories, crystals and flowers into healing potions, are all available to a small child. It is all there at our tiny little fingertips, held within our innocent hearts and seen thru our open eyes.   And then, at some point the wardrobe becomes a place for hanging clothes again, fairy lane becomes a track to drive on to gather firewood and the far away tree is a bush cherry tree covered in a pretty creeper.

I need cake real bad

brriiiinnnnggg   brrriinnnggggg

the phone rings

John has gone to see Shelli to have her  hands of magic remind his back of how to line up  so I am on call.

is that Sandy ?  says the tiny phone voice

yes it is.

how are you Sandy ?

good in fact  a most amazing thing happened at dawn this morning

a phenomena.

I woke to a palette of yellow the world was painted bright golden yellow.

I sat on the bed and stared  not the red sunrise colours this was yellow . I nudged John you have to see.

he blinked from under the covers too snuggy to care much.

I wanderd out to the kitchen  then  outside. it didnt come from anywhere the sky was its usual  whitish grey with puffy clouds and a smear of blue  .

there was no obvious sign of this glory, it just was it just filled the entire space .  after a bit it disappeared and the day seemed washed out lacking in  colour somehow.

we walked after  a hearing the glad news  from Elsie that she  had met her dog her dog to be. Words tumbled and bubbled  from her spilling  joy into our home amd hearts . Still some  weeks away but the long cherished guide is prepared and coming to walk with her and so we walked  out beyond the gate whipped by cold winds and   hunched deep in our jackets .

how  are you Carole ?

there are no solutions for this friend,  there is only band aids and hugs and I try to be good at both.

I’ve got the  form she says  they want my pension card photocopied .

I know my next line so I say it .

I can do that . this is to get her a rebate on her $1800 rate bill.

then she tells me she has just paid  an $800 electrickery bill and it took all her pension plus.

it’s that bloody stove of yours Carole.

it’s the heater  she says but  I have to have it on

of course you do it is winter afterall and the house is so very very cold .

I return to the stove  theme even though I know better I cannot help trying to fix something there.

the house is not wired up for a stove so she uses a plug into a power point one. are you using the old one or the new one your cousin bought you?

the old one . that new one is chinese and  its no good sandy.

then the phone bill rears its $250  head and I learn about another form she needs help with to get priority in having her phone fixed straight away. I need it sandy I cant be without what if I fell  what if…  ????

of course you need it I murmurr but really I am close to screaming with pain for this battler.

now what about  food ? not much she says,  I need cake sandy

cake   wow ok .

I’ve been sick and you wouldn’t know where I could get any cake would you ? she is sly this woman she is rat cunning she is an adept  player of emotions she is a wheedler a survivor a charmer a whiner  if tears will get her way she will cry.

and she does … sobbing about the road and them up the back of the valley making trouble.

I did  ring Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority  I tell her who apparently haven’t got any when it comes to the Illawambra creek but suggest we talk to  Council  which has been done and the road looks like that.

We have to stop them we have to . it is making me sick she cries.

I need cake real bad sandy it’s an  energy food for me.

Carole I haven’t got time to bake to-day.

I wrap up the last two pieces of canadian orange cake  and scour the pantry for some provisions finding a couple of spuds  a carrot some cauli a pkt of  kingston biscuits  a punnet of strawberries a pkt of  two minute noodles  a couple of apples and some rolled oats.

and then I head off along County Boundary road stopping at Eagles View for two dozen freshly squeezed out eggs before turning up  at Figtree for a cuppa with Suzy. She has baked a chocolate coconut slice . the fire is on and we drink black tea hand delivered all the way from China. Steve arrives  home with a ute full of wood and joins us. I mention Carole and  they open their pantry cupboard.  Steve  hands me marmalade and Suzy puts together a hamper of  still warm slice  a pear some onions  tins of salmon and sardines  even dolmades.

I did look for vine leaves for you when I was in Melbourne  she said. thank you but Bec has bought us a mega jar  we just need the occasion now.

I am running late fighting the clock  driving quickly,  there is a meeting to catch in Bega concerning the refugee situation

concern being the operative word.

John wants to go we want to do something we want it to change we want so many many things to be different.

the Bega Valley Rural Australians for Refugees group is being re activated.

Carole is down behind the barn feeding lambs  when I arrive. it takes her ages to get up to the fence and  haul  herself over

slowly so slowly she makes her way to me and  leans into me . I hold her she cries.

I am a little impatient having spent too long at Suzys enjoying myself.

crouching down under the trees along  the path to the house avoiding the stinging nettle  past the cages with the red eyed  albino guinea pigs and sidestepping  the scratching  wild hens  up onto the verandah where several large boxes shrouded in blankets are bleating.

there’s twins in that one she says.  She takes the lambs off their mums and  hand rears them by  keeping them warm and snuggy in the dark.

if  you peel back the layers they try to clamber into your arms in their  short woolly coats with  their  wet tongues hunting  milk.

what are they this year Carole  ? girls she says

great girls means a good summer  a summer of rain and fertility.

boys mean dry drought a hard year.

this is the weather according to Carole and mostly she nails it.

in the kitchen we unpack the food  look at the forms  and before I am out  the kitchen door with the pension card she is sitting down to tuck in.

I guess she was really hungry.

today she rings

what do you need I ask ?

water I’m out of water

and some fat sausages  I’ve got $5 she says.

if I could sell some manure I could buy some stuff  and she cries again.  again the road ….again . …..

I’ll see you  tomorrow ok

ok.

another reality later we are sitting  in the DaMa Lounge at Mumbulla School with people of  heart and compassion with  intelligence and energy and ideas that flow from home respite to letters written to  policy development to flyers that bust myths and events .

afterwards we eat out like on a date

coming home in the dark and cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jumping Mouse

thursday

the phone rings

earlyish in the morning.

oh hi Glen

she giggles

there is a wood heater on gumtree in Pambula

$300.

I’ll check it out.

before you could blink an eye we were hooking up the trailer and setting our course south.

in bed over cuppa and toast  John asks what are you doing today ?

home today all day

baking    gardening    blogging   wood gathering

home all day…

John continues  on with project of ‘keeping the rats  out of here’  by closing the gap between the glasshouse and the roof.

the car that had been such a pain in the seat for me Wednesday is behaving beautifully today dragging the trailer along behind.

the fire nymph is sitting in the front of the  garage under the two storey house at the bottom of a cul de sac called George Street.

we already like it, in fact John liked it before he got off the phone to Kevin

that is a bit bold I say.

eventually we rouse Wendy who yells up the yard for Kevin

shorter than me with a white t-shirt stretched taut over a bulging  belly tucked into black trackie dacks

he clocks us checking out the mega white with blue trim that is really black  Harley Davidson

chrome so shiny I could have checked my lipstick

sheepskin seatcovers, stereo  intercom a drink holder for Wendy

who incidentally towers over hubby Kev

they have recently returned from touring Tassie 5 weeks.

I’ve  buried  too many  mates lately, life’s too short to waste  if you want to do something you’ve got to do it he says.

all the toys of  doing  are here from  the super sized boat under a tarp to  the dinghy  a couple of  utes and a trail bike .

Alpine X Fire Nymph  made in Hastings New Zealand

wow a kiwi

Glenda deserves brownie points for this

she sure does agrees John.

the trailer is manoeurved  up close to the southern verandah

and we cover our fire nymph with  a blue tarp

waiting now  for muscles  and installation.

Friday

the phone does not ring

early morning holds bird song clear skies yoga and porridge.

the swallows have added another layer of wet mud  to the wall of their nest

how high can they go before they will no longer fit between nest and roof ??

talk about friendly

a superb blue wren sits on my knee today

a small swampy camps on the verandah looks at me thru the glass when I enter  the bedroom

blinks an eye watches me leave.

baking lime biscuits and the Aunt Daisy canadian orange cake

you know the one where you put the whole orange skin and all thru the  mincer with raisins and walnuts .

I used sultanas instead.

I am at the sink and hear a familiar scrabbling sound  tinkle clink in the bowls dept

hello  Jumping Mouse.

I know it is a jumper  because I chased it from  pantry to kitchen  and back again.

no one has ever called me sane.

it  faddled around the bench the dishes behind the tiles and shot off up  the curtain

aahaa…. I opened the window and  pushed the curtain out   gently flapping it   with the metal soup ladle.

plop it fell  banged the window shut tore  outside but  couldn’t see it  anywhere

well that skedaddled  quick .

good job well done a pat on the back and wash my hands.

back to greasing the trays

checking the oven temperature  of Stanley.

beating the eggs singing a song.

a movement  a tink a   a tail disappears into the porridge pot.

how on earth  ??

maybe it scuttled off the curtain and I imagined it went out.

the game continues

I want to place something over it and hover with  sieve then  bowl    but it flounces away.

oh so cute just like a cat it it lies on its side on the floor reaching out  with an  arm  into the gap to gather crumbs

not at all fussed by my baking activities

we are a team in this kitchen of life  together.

it dashes  up the blue dining room curtain

very  carefully I sneak round the table  climb up on a chair and ease  the  window  open.

again I  push the curtain out and race  outside.

it is  scampering around in free fall clinging onto a sail in the wind wheeeeeeee

its eyes meet mine briefly.

I  give   the curtain  a shake  or two  and it drops  to the ground and sits quietly among the leaf litter behind the rotary hoe.

this time I am certain it is out and congratulate myself .

wow what a story to tell John when he comes in from work

from acting as grocer at Sweet Home Cobargo

make the icing using lime juice paint it on the biscuits.

you are kidding

it is back romping around  under the sink sprinting with that skippity  jump in  the air to  hide  under  the blue cupboard.

did I say oh so cute.

nothing burning

cake rising

I wipe my hands and set a mouse trap on the bench

I don’t see it again

but as the sun is setting I hear the trap slam and going into the dark kitchen with my one bat torch

I witness  a final wave of the tail .

Jumping Mouse is flying now.

gently I place it near the lavender calling owl  calling frogmouth

here is a gift for thee.

*****************************

and today I remembered  scotch thistle

it was the fluff of the scotch thistle that I got the kids to collect

inside that seed  head is the softest fluff

absolutely perfect for teeny weeny fairy pillows.

no one should have to walk like that

 

 

Wednesday

The phone rings

earlish in the morning.

Another warm spring day with the ultimate in blue sky.

A soft breeze after the buffeting of high-rise gusts .

I had just launched my self onto the bed where John was enjoying a cuppa and a read.

We discuss my frame of mind my anxiety racket that I suckled from my mother’s breast and the difficulty of changing.

Hello

Is that sandy ? a tiny voice asks

Not many still the claim the sandy connection.

Yes

Is that sandy?

Yes

And simultaneously as  the sobbing breaks over the line like a wave launching itself upon a cliff  I recognise Carole’ s voice.

Me instant panic  WHAT  I shout back to her.

John emerges from the bedroom stops and waits to know who is disturbed ….   a daughter a son a sister a father a friend.

I mouth Carole at him and he continues on to the kitchen.

Oh lovey what is it, my voice softening  and I reach out to take the pain away to heal to fix to make better.

This is what I want to do when faced with breakdown.

They are coming to cut the trees down along the road. Them council fellas.

it is that that man up the back stirring up trouble.

They can’t do it Sandy and her voice rises and shrieks and words tumble haphazardly into my ear while I murmur soothing sounds.

They  can’t take the pittosporum away my banks will collapse.

he says he is going to take them all out

I would rather die than let them do it.

the environment protection mob said the banks had to be  left alone. this country is prone to erosion.

They’ re coming at 11. I need support .I don’t know what to do I’ve been sick and couldn’t get out of bed and now this. I can’t take it anymore Sandy.

And a fresh wave rises from deep within and crashes over the phone and spills onto the floor at my feet.

I am on my way to Bega Carole can you ring the council and talk to them?

explain it , quote what the EPA  says.

You cant talk to them she says they don’t listen.

What about Keith?

Poor Keith our only green’ s councilor.

The only councilor that stood up for our beautiful gum trees in the park in Bega

And today in council he was trying a motion to ask for the last one the last magnificent tree to be left alone.

What about Ray ? I ask, the neighbour that bought Banyo and Cheryl’s place. Ray is standing as an independent so he can have his say about forests and rivers and solar power and respect.

good on you Ray who is  funding  himself at a $1000 plus just so he can have a say for the earth on behalf of all of us.

He’s in Wollongong working.

What about the EPA  ? Make some calls and I will get  back to you.

Ok she says.

I take it to John in front of Stanley who listens in to all our conversations.

how many times have  we heard this?  John says

you cant fix it .  I know but..

Just have your day it ‘ll be alright.  look after yourself.

I nod agreement get dressed and ring Carole. no answer .

The car is farting round not wanting to idle being sluggy.

maybe not the day to drive, maybe it is telling me to stay home.

I decide to  go a bit further and see if it comes right . ( it doesn’t)

Despite my assurance that I am not going to Caroles the car heads  up link road  and turns right onto Yowrie road past santa claus ‘s place on the corner and the new tin house where all the pine trees were cut down past Phillipe and his forge at the graceful Galba homestread past Leilas and Hughs  who is now in Malawi and round the corner into Illawambra creek road.

No answer at the house so I drive on  up the hill. Beside  the dog skulls on the fence is the council machine ready to begin. I get out he gets out.

We meet in the middle of the road.

Have you seen Carole?

She’s up there and further along the track is a figure all in black shuffling  very slowly .

She rang me very upset.

yes he says I have talked to her , she is alright now.

This roadside vegetation is very important to her.

somehow he looks different to other drivers I have met, a smile a willingness  open   a compassion for Carole perhaps.

Driving on I stop beside Carole  and hop out holding my arms  open

she collapses into me sobbing.

All the smells of the farm are there the lanolin the sheep manure the hay feed clinging to her tights

Her hair a lavish burgundy colour her fingernails  luminous  blue.  her toes  shaped like  claws clutch the earth thru her thongs, the nails also  blue.  from the knees her legs splay way out to the sides.

no one should have to walk like that.

How does she manage to keep up this farmiong business   we wonder time and time again???

This is why I am here to embrace this beautiful being to hold her close to my heart and cherish her.

What about going back home as I relinquish her weight out of my arms .

He’s alright  he is not going to do anything silly that other fellow didn’t come this is a new one.

You can train him I say, she laughs and hops in the car.

he will be a while she says so we’ll go look at the road. Two days they spent up there she harumphs.

All because of the man up the back  he wants a super highway well why doesnt he go live somewhere else.

Like the water we follow   stories bubble and meander thru now and then.

At the crossing we meet the chatty Illawambra creek and it is here  we used to pick our buckets of blackberries from hedges  that towered over our heads .  For years Carole protected them, no sprays ever came near them but eventually the machine took them out as her ability to stride  up the valley faltered.

Now it is all  piles of pushed over dirt  lying in  wait for the next flood to slide the remaining couple of metres into the creek.

the giant river she-oaks softly whisper and wave,  a young black wallaby watches us then darts across the road.

Once we used to stay in this valley when Banyo Chez Bree and Johnny lived here back before they sold to  Ray. We explored the hills the gullies ancient fig trees hidden in clefts orchids and clematis draped over quartz  rocks . We visitied the middle of the valley where the old pioneer slab hut is to say hello to the hundreds of grey kangaroos that call this place home.

Once the children splashed and jumped in joy with this creek .

Once they collected the fluff out of that prickle bush whose name totally eludes me so I could make them tiny fairy pillows.

And  up above us  the dumpling with its bald rock on which we would sit and dream.

and all  the  times we had sleep outs  up there  under full moon watching sunsets and sunrises.

I turn around on the flat where once we grew pumpkins  .

We return to watch the machine that is extending its long long arm to  clip the tips of shrubs and trees.

he gets out and comes over to us.

there is a cherry tree up further you won’t touch that will you? Carole is stronger  now  .

not if you don’t want me to, he says

and the culvert don’t push anything in there

no and if any gets in I will spoon it out, he is smiling.

got a spoon on that thing  have you ?

and he cups his hands together to show her.

she laughs  he laughs.

I take Carole back to the house.

it is going to be alright this time.

 

 

 

….wake up girl…

 

I woke up this morning

merging from the dream into the bed

into the opaque early morning birds twittering and cussing about

the wind that had been blowing its head off all night and still roaring.

twice in the night I had got up to close the door to the verandah after it had blown open.

the second time I said oh fuck very loudly and climbed back into bed disgruntled with the wind and the effort of getting up.

I slid back into bed into the dream …

somehow yesterday morning I got out of the wrong side of the bed and fretted fussed and cried over spilt milk of whatever grabbed my gall

refugees   our local council   stupid stupid politicians

anything everything I spat chips.

hey says John you’ re angry

sorry love and I snuggled down onto his chest breathing deeply and sanely back into connection with me myself  I and the rest of it all

but it didn’t last that long.

I got most of the way thru my yoga practice gave up on the meditation my head too full and busy with bullshit.

after porridge I went to Bermagui to visit the doctor

not an everyday occurrence for me, more in the hardly ever realm.

under duress I went advised by my case manager to compile a body of evidence to show why I cannot be expected to work.

Oh dear the truth is out

I am a hopeless case an all time bludger  a no good layabout

a want it all for nothing sort of person.

where is your work ethic girl?

looking at thirty years of  chopping wood, carrying water, digging and shoveling ,cooking and cleaning, making and creating home  family  garden  community …

of time always available for life and death

time for soup for the sick, meals for the poor, chats with the depressed, cuppas and creative plans and celebrations with the river and the forest and the flowers and the birds and the air and the rainbow and the mountain.

of time for circles of healing and ceremonies of planetary business

of time to be .

so there I am this morning merging into wakefulness my head still pressed into the pillow my face turned towards the windows and my body warm and soft and I say …oh fuck …

again

that’s twice

and then I heard myself and I have been feeling guilty all day.

what a way to wake up girl.

how rude how sad how out of it????

ok my head was hurting and I am so sick of that state but really no excuse I say to myself sweeping the floor no excuse I say to the self doing yoga the self bringing in kindling the self dreaming in the spring garden.

pushing my back hard against the mud brick wall I mutter sorry sorry so sorry

this life this most precious gift and my response on waking this morning was oh fuck.

the sky so magnificently blue not a cloud to mar the perfect clarity

the spotted turtle dove lands on the tank for a drink and I sing

“two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree”

the new hollands are making out in the daphne bush or were they arguing, hard to tell sometimes with birds the love act itself is so quick and covers much jostling and chasing that well…

the swallows are completing work on the interior of the nest

the wongas continue their stately walk around the yard and wallabies take shortcuts across the verandah.

and whom is it I apologise to?

to you goddess to you my friends to you my self divine

wake up get a grip as they say.

sitting in the surgery waiting my turn watching a foreign language movie unravel between receptionist and patients and nurse and doctor and ins and outs and tick tock tick tock tick tock…

an hour late he appears and welcomes me into his office.

here I am in the heartland of the white coats as Carole calls them

don’t tell her I am here she will give me a right telling off

do I want any help he asks or am I happy left alone?

there are preventive measures he wants to suggest but decides not to push it and leaves chat of  pap smears, mammograms and heart stress tests for another time.

That’s what happens when you take your family into the room with you

all of a sudden you become a repository of all that has previously gone wrong.

how would you feel about a blood test? he asks this nice young man dressed so casually in jeans with his sparkling eyes and dark curly hair.

I might be able to do that I reply .

previously when I had blood to give I gave it month by month to the Mother to the garden to the renewal of life itself.

that gave him a form to fill out which complimented his function and I left  one visit down in my evidence kit.

 

 

perhaps camo is more an attitude than a dress code

 

the frenchman rings the other night a rare enough event and tells me that our mutual neighbour Patrick the new kid on the block is clearing his bush and is there a law against it.?? he figured I would know because and here he blustered a bit unwilling to say out loud about   my propensity for  activism perhaps.

‘ he has a bob cat the biggest there is and  is taking out everything up to 5 inches  round.  the noise is driving me crazy ,he goes in clears a patch then comes out and goes in another bit. what is he doing? ‘

I don’t know  I reply but if you want to talk about noise and neighbours let me tell you about warren and the hippie mover that sounds like a boeing aircraft engine or worse . we think it is a machine that mashes up ???? feed for his cows . called feedlot farming very progressive is warren.  sorry John  I got carried away there what were you saying ?

‘ he started 2 weeks ago then something broke and he had to get a part from america and then does it again this week it is no good ‘  the Frenchman continues   ‘I thought I would finish my life here in peace and quiet but now he do this I don’t  like it if he doesn’t stop maybe I sell.’ Like us John has been here 30 years  and  is  as gnarly and twisted as an angophora.

we had been hearing it too and for the first few days for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the sound was. And then my John not french John said it sounds like  one of those mulching machines .

the frenchman wants me to do something . And then  Christa rings and talks to John with a similar vent against patrick and what he is doing. “he is opening up the canopy and then it starts drying out and becomes a fire hazard and  he is a bully you know.  Christa has already had a run in with patrick over the road and  the frenchman had a run in  over the sale of some timber.  So far we have been doing alright keeping out of the way.

I looked up the Vegetation ACT 2003  and  found that it is illegal to clear your  forest or the under shrubbery either but exactly who takes any notice of that? .  while there is a law and while a person could report the misdoings of their neighbour and while the environment and heritage office could investigate and have the  power to administer a fine it would all  be too late.

of course the libs in NSW are changing the law anyway to make it easier for farmers to clear their  bushy bits  coming into effect in 2014 not that patrick is a farmer unless he is intending some sort of cash crop.

lets go for a walk I say to John. Camo he asks. Of course .

so after porridge on a sunny warm verandah which is still a work site cluttered with nails and timber hammer  trestles ladders and wire all part of further rat proofing techniques  we suit up and head out ,. I chose to go with green  jeans hat and checkered shirt. John adopted blue bottoms khaki shirt and brown hat. Perhaps camo is more an attitude than a dress code.

we wandered along our track and out  the gate cutting thru Christas paddock to the gateway into patricks and the frenchmans. Both of them hold 100 acres here that buts up against our two 40 acre blocks. all of it forest . and behind that forest all the way to the next valley.

we walk the fenceline seeing nothing of any clearing , in places there is no fence as trees have smashed down across human boundaries and lie rotting given enough time back into the earth. We climb over trunks tangle up in vines and cutty grass skirt around thorny bushes slither down gullies and creep along tiny little would be creeks . everywhere  bandicoots diggings wombat diggings and burrows  scats of wallaby and kangaroo. beneath the tall stringybarks grey box silver topped ash  past the Casuarina and  wild cherries past the unnamed rainforest opportunists past the lichen and ferns and wild violets.

30 years ago Bill McVeity put up this fence red gum fence posts and 5 strands of barb.  today it looks like madness but John tells me it was madness back then too and he should know because he helped Bill do it.   We came across one huge tree that Bill  cut it down because it was on the fenceline. As I say madness. And yet it still continues.

30 years of living here and I think one starts to think like a forest like a tree and the world of human doings can look even stranger and weirder than ever before.

Bec rings and John tells her  we have a refugee problem .  yesterday evening before the curtains needed closing but the sun had left the forest John points out the window .four of the red wallabies  near  Kingston’s swing set nibbling grass dreaming one looking directly at us thru the glass had a pouch full .

It is unusual to see them around the house these days . once they were common place  but at some point they traded  places with the shy black swamp wallabies who  even now claim the verandah as their territory.

I had a theory that the swampies are harder  on the garden than the red ones were but hey they are all here now .

it’s all ok i am not going to try to garden anymore bugger it the lavender and sage were the last last last straw. When you look out and see so many wallabies that you run out of fingers to count on it is time to say goodbye to gardening.

probably kidding there because the daffs and jonquils are flowering  the air is perfumed with daphne and the swallows have added onto their nest .  the yellow robins are with me in a flash when I chop up no. twos for stanley gathering the tidbits that fall out of the logs . wattle birds and honeyeaters are swanning and clamoring around the callistemon outside the bedroom and  the male blue wrens have put their luminous blue coats on.

I would like to have an answer for the frenchman but I don’t.   Perhaps it is enough that after 30 years he is  now able to reach out and ring us .

it is sunday and out there in paddock land the guns are shooting .

perhaps it is not enough anymore  to hold the space of generosity and compassion to keep the light burning as a beacon of kindness to those that are persecuted  perhaps it is time to say refugees are welcome here.