One fine spring day

Firstly, many apologies for being so long away. Keeping the house of cards from crumbling while all the kids and hubby were learning and working from home took a lot of attention, organisation and routine. I also had no private space for my pursuits. I have always sought privacy and quiet to think and certainly to put those thoughts into words. You don’t get a lot of that in a busy household! Every woman needs her nest.

But I have been busy, providing you don’t ask me doing what because then I will be hard-pressed to think of what has occupied my days, aside from the usual cooking, laundry, shopping, gardening etc. But if I focus on just one day, I can recount the things that fill my life and absorb my attention.

I have always been a list person. I list my goals, dreams, wants, needs, interests, short term to-do lists, long term to-do lists…the list goes on (forgive me!). Each morning I sit with a coffee, enjoying the quiet morning start and write a list of what I hope to achieve that day. I often overestimate how much time and energy I have, so the list is often highly ambitious and inevitably ends with one or two entries uncrossed and left for the morrow. But some days, I nail it, which gives me such a deep sense of satisfaction to tick off that list. Friday was such a day.

After a rainy spring week, the lawn had exploded in growth and was in desperate need of mowing and edging. Our lawnmower, however, is desperately in need of replacement and was seriously not up to the task. I think attempting any task with faulty equipment is an exercise in futility and creative cursing! But after many stops and starts and adjustments, we tamed the jungle. Truthfully, if it were our property, I would be happy to turn over a lot of lawn to garden space. I agree that kids and the dog all need some lawned area to run and play games. But gardens are more valuable in their ability to retain moisture, providing a level of climate control and a haven and a source of food for native wildlife and us humans. I would willingly turn over much of the lawn to an orchard, vegetable garden, and native and cottage gardens. That is what I hope to create in our own home one day.

But spring weather also means throwing off the heavy quilts and covers and giving them a much-needed wash and bask in the sun. The days are too short in winter to permit outside drying of such heavy items. So I look forward to our first long, sunny and not too windy day to get all our bedding washed and on the line. The sun does its magic of brightening and freshening fabric, while I find it very therapeutic watching the linen waving on the line. And I am sorry to bore you with tales of washing laundry but, one of my most treasured memories is of seeing my babes’ terry-towelling square nappies hanging on the line on a bright sunny day. There is so much care and honesty in the simple act of laundering and if you manage to derive some joy from the act then all the better.

We also visited our sheep that we have agisted on a friend’s property, giving them a treat of seaweed meal and a handful of lucerne. We have recently had the sheep shorn and are trying to find a local manufacturer to process the wool into yarn. There is nothing cost-effective about this process. It is certainly not the most economical way to purchase yarn, but the pleasure of knitting a garment in yarn made from the wool of our own sheep will be a reward in itself. But the responsibility of owning livestock, even if they number only four, is not lost on me. I take the responsibility very seriously and hope that I am doing my very best for these animals. Having been raised from poddies, they are very friendly and affectionate animals. Their antics and playful characters provide a lot of joy.

A visit to see the sheep also provided an excellent excuse for my daughter to practice her driving. Over one hundred hours of driving is a big ask, especially when many of us are still under stay-at-home orders. There are just not so many excuses to leave the house. But driving is an essential skill to have in Australia, and the roads are unforgiving places. Building confidence in a young driver can be a tricky thing. Although, I would much rather deal with a lack of driving confidence than too much!

I have been progressively working on planting up the vegetable garden. I forget what an expansive area it is and just how many plants are needed to fill it. I tend to overplant and crowd my plantings, but I would rather have slightly less yield if it keeps the weeds at bay. I have three main beds, two round raised beds for potatoes, and the peripheries where I have planted gooseberries, rhubarb, red and black currants, and some bird attracting shrubs, as well as a corner where I can encourage the pumpkin to sprawl. Each main garden bed is 12m by 2m. They are a bit wide to plant and harvest without trampling the soil, but it does allow for a massive amount of growth. That is when the slugs and birds have not blighted my tender young seedlings.

I have devoted one bed to summer vegetables along with a long trellis for climbing beans. I have established another for all the green veggies, beetroot, turnips and radishes, and a trellis for climbing peas. The third bed has been half planted with garlic and several rows of sunflowers (at least what’s left after the cockatoos visited this morning, I say with a wry smile!). There will be space yet for carrots, and I may put a crop of onions in towards the end of the season. The garden is an active space that I love working in every day, especially now as the days are warmer but not so hot to be unbearable.

Most days see myself busy in the kitchen. Friday was no exception. A batch of sprinkle biscuits that appeared in the latest Taproot magazine issue to arrive in my mailbox, Fable, was made. They were fun and a pinch to make. I also made pastry for a pie and pasta to make spinach and ricotta tortelli. But the long and physical day left me with very little time and energy to roll and fill pasta. Instead, I boiled up some dried pasta from the pantry and served it with a simple tomato sauce. It was a perfect end to a busy day. Later in the week, the pasta will accompany a bolognese sauce as pappardelle. The spinach and ricotta mixture was used to fill puff pastry triangles and packed away for simple lunches throughout the week.

Today I had intended to make lemon curd and bake a pumpkin pie, but I am tired and all too often, I try to fill my weekend from rising to bed with activity. I need to be more mindful of taking moments to rest and enjoy stillness instead of making every minute count. But I am glad I made the time to connect in this space again. I hope you have been keeping well and enjoying the start of spring or fall, wherever you may be.

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