An Afternoon in the Country

At Easter, in recent years, it was difficult to contemplate spending time with family (or friends) due to overwhelming pain or fatigue (or both), so it was with undeniable pleasure that I looked forward to this Easter, 2010.

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Easter Friday started earlier than the usual days of jobless bliss, with the alarm clock beeping shrilly in my ear.

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But I was actually half awake.

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I didnt want to oversleep, having gone to bed much too late on Thursday night, so I set the alarm for only the second time in the last 6 weeks. My younger brothers partner (& much loved dear friend), came to pick me up late morning, to take me up to their country property for lunch & a lazy afternoon soaking up the country air.

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We chatted continuously & contendedly on the car journey (which took only a little over an hour on the freeway) & suddenly we were traveling down the dusty gravel road spewing clouds of fine dust into the air, which led along the high side of their property. Not a large property at 10 acres, but large enough to be titled a hobby farm.

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The early morning clouds in the city, which had hinted at a possible rain shower, had parted during the journey. This disappearance of the soft cloud cover, revealed a day of golden sunshine, with a cool breeze brushing across the hills to make it one of those perfect early Autumn days that prolong the warmth of summer, & herald the cool breezes of the coming winter.

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Before I could make a move (as the passenger normally delegated for gate opening chores), the wire gate was flung open, & we rolled down the gentle slope to the carport at the back of the house. The house is actually shaped like a barn with large glass double sliding doors at the front, opening onto, what will eventually be a large veranda to surround the house on three sides (not yet built, but definitely on the future agenda with a large bundle of wood tossed haphazardly in the hole below the front door). Today, it was back door entrance only.

The house looks over the horse paddock & several rolling fields dipping into a hollow at the far end on the property, where a scattering of closely huddled gum trees form a natural property line.

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The spindly wisps of dry knee high grass had grown since the paddocks were cut for hay at the end of the summer, with the excess bales of hay being sold on to a more needy farm. I had not been up there for a year or maybe more, & was surprised at the changes (or had my memory faded with the long months of wariness & pain when working full time).

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The large kitchen was filled with the aroma of heavenly, exotic Indian spices from home made pumpkin soup. This exotic soup was made far more differently to that which I make down in my city flat. The raw pumpkin had started out its life in the large vegetable patch next to the house, not in the crowded fresh food market a bus ride from my city flat. And whereas I spice my pumpkin soup with a hint of freshly ground nutmeg, my Brothers partner uses an array of Indian spices & ginger to flavour her thick pureed pumpkin soup.

Then an enormous platter of organic salad leaves, rocket & baby spinach surrounded by roasted pumpkin & potatoes chunks (cooked by my Brother while we were driving up from the city) was firmly planted in the centre of the round table.

The salad was tossed with large chunks of smoked organic salmon (smoked in the local area), wonderful plugs of soft creamy goats cheese, hard boiled eggs from the hen house 20 feet from the back door, blanched young green asparagus & whole green beans & goodness knows what other organic vegetables, which I cant now recall. All this was tossed with a wonderful home made oil dressing & served with locally made olive bread & nutty, seeded bread for contrast.

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Warm homemade banana bread & rich sweet balls of crushed pistachio nuts, cream cheese & other unknown ingredients rolled in coconut in walnut sized balls finished off our lunch & while the Girls cleared the table, my younger Brother and I, fresh mugs of coffee in hand, strolled around the property inspecting all the latest additions & sharing descriptions of future changes to the immediate area surrounding the house.

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The hen house had been moved & made larger. The top had a half rolled back piece of netting to stop the eagles or birds of prey swooping down upon the hens or young chicks. My brother walked into the coop & then produced the daintiest, brownest egg I had ever seen, like some magician waving his wand over a top hat & producing a rabbit from thin air.

<o:p>My Parents had brought me eggs from the farm before, but this perfectly formed, tiny, nutty brown coloured egg, really was special. My Father (now in his mid eighties) had fashioned a greenhouse for my 12 year old niece recently, in which she could nurture seedlings for her summer veggie garden this was new since I had last visited.</o:p>
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<o:p>We stepped carefully over the uneven ground which warranted slow watchful steps in order not to trip on a couple of channels made into the soil to take excess rainwater away from the house.</o:p>
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And then as we stood in the sun looking down over the fields, I could hear a faint patter, like seeds in a barrel rattling around.

It turned out to be the upper leaves of the 3O-40 year old pear tree rustling in the wind.

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I looked around & asked where was the veggie garden, surely not in that waist high grass jungle encased in rabbit proof fence? But that was it. Wild grass had grown to a forest between the last dying stalks of corn. We waded through to check out the last solitary, pumpkin hidden under the sea of leaves.

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Spindly summer broccoli had gone to seed.

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Old cabbage plants with no heads of cabbage left, were still sprouting large outer leaves like upturned sun hats sprinkled with little holes where the cabbage moth caterpillars had visited recently.

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I was tempted to ask if I could package & send all MY cabbage moth caterpillars which had been eating my potted herbs, up to the country for a no return ticket visit, but decided to keep my mouth shut. Ruby, red, silver beet had self seeded at various breaks in the wild grass. And there right in the middle, one delicate flower had self seeded from goodness knows what distant garden. Was it a petunia or what? Who knows. But it was holding its head up like some proud princess amongst her courtiers & peasant farmers, not in the least bit cowed by the surrounding wild grass taking over her territory.

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Penny, the mare was ambling near a second fenced area which my brother said housed the last of the potatoes, but this too was over run with a forest of waist high grass, waving in the breeze.

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So what was on the agenda for winter veggies? Nothing, said my brother, we wont be planting any more until next Spring. In the meantime, the tractor will plough its way through the forest of grass & turn the soil over for the coming winter. With a busy job that involved interstate & overseas travel, my brother was keen to finish work on a new tool shed & plan the new veranda before planning veggies for the Spring later in the year.

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We then strolled down through the field, to check out the enlargement of the old tractor & tool shed encased in old corrugated iron sheets, making slow progress each time my Father & Brother got together to share the work.

A quick glance at the cluster of gums at the bottom of the property revealed no kangaroos where they normally rest & doze through the warm afternoon, then a stroll across to the 40-50 different fruit trees of the orchard & 3 lines of grape vines which had been stripped bare by the kangaroos one weekend.

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Further up to the top of the property, we strolled past the remnants of the old veggie garden which my Mother had started many years ago when she was more mobile. Dozens of potted shrubs & fruit trees had burst from their temporary plastic pots & sent large roots into the ground & grown tall & eventually fruit bearing, before my brother could decide what fruit tree, to plant where. Their haphazard growth had turned into a closely knit, baby orchard.

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Overshadowing this cluster of fruit trees were enormous European birch, cypress, fragrant pine & an enormous elm tree which had left a scattering of acorns over the hard packed soil below. What possessed the original owners to plant such large growing trees so close together, will forever remain a mystery.

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But standing in the middle of the property looking over the distant valley listening to the silence was magical, & far more peaceful & healing than any drug Ive ever tried. I cannot begin to describe the sheer pleasure & joy, revealed in that fragment of time, standing together quietly admiring the view & sharing the afternoon.

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And the silence of the day only broken as the wind whispered through the grass & the faint cry of magpies sounded in the distance.

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Later, sitting in the family area at the front of the house, looking out over the valley as the afternoon drew to a close, a magpie & 2 multi coloured Rosellas swooped across from the gums in the neighboring property, & landed on the gate to the horse paddock just in front of the house. Then they jumped down onto the ground to forage for seeds & other delights scattered from the horse feed boxes by the 2 horses.

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If only I had a camera to catch that moment & bring it home to my city flat to remind me of that afternoon in the country.

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But alas, as I sit at my computer late Friday night (well, actually closer to 1.00am Saturday morning as I glance at my watch), all I have is a picture frozen in my memory to be thawed & viewed each time I want to revisit Easter Friday, 2010 and a beautiful day at the start of the long Easter weekend.

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How wonderful it is to be well enough to experience this day. I have so much to be thankful for in recent weeks & wish that other forum members might one day have the opportunity to experience a day such as this also.</o:p>
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Comments

beautifully written, could feel the sun on my face. thank you for sharing Vicki :)
 
Thank you for sharing your wonderful day... very enjoyable to be brought into the atmosphere of the Australian countryside. I was confused at first about Easter being in Autumn, but then it made sense in light of the kangaroos. I think a lot of us really learn to appreciate simple moments of peace and companionship.
 
Beautiful Vicki. I am now so hungry! That banana bread sounds great! As usual, your writings take me along with you. It sounds really wonderful.
 
Well, it sounds to me as if you embodied that experience, so you did bring it home with you, didn't you? And gave us a little piece, too.
 
Sunday;bt1567 said:
Well, it sounds to me as if you embodied that experience, so you did bring it home with you, didn't you? And gave us a little piece, too.
Sunday,
that was my purpose in writing about my day in the country.
To share something with those who are housebound or bedbound & can't get out.
No doubt, there would be many members not interested in my day, but some ill people might like to know there's a real world outside their door & that someone (me) is lucky enough to experience it.

After yesterday with my other brother & family, & eating too much wrong food & 2 glasses of champagne yesterday, I am feeling really lethargic & fatigued today. Even a little sick - serves me right, I guess. i'm not supposed to drink alcohol at all (with my meds).

Might take me a few days to get over Easter & all that chocolate I ate last week.

It's only mid afternoon here & I'm feeling ready for a nap & rest. :sofa:

Still, at least I don't have to go to work tomorrow - now THAT would have been difficult in previous years. i could never have gone out over Easter if I was working full time - I would have been too exhausted. (And as I sat on a hard chair too long yesterday, my lumbar back pain is flaring today).

There's no socialising for me without some form of consequence.
 
Just beautiful Victoria - I think I very well could have ended up in a place like that if not for you know what. It was nice getting out of the city for a while :)
 

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