You don't have to understand the world. You just have to find your own way around in it. - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

of the Faerie Guardian Tree

Upon considering my previous post, I felt that the special tree right in front of my home deserved a bit more of an introduction. I've lived so close to her for so long that she has really become a part of the household in her own right. She does protect me directly from the sun and the rain, and beyond that, I feel she has a spiritual guardianship role to this little spot. And yet I still don't know her name. I don't know the proper names of a lot of the plants up here, as they are different to the ones I know from the southern states. As for her personal name, as kind as she is to me, she hasn't chosen to share that with me yet. So she's just the Tree, with a capital letter to distinguish her from all the other trees.

When I first arrived, you couldn't exactly tell there was a tree there, so much as infer its existence by the presence of branches poking out of the top of an enormous tangle of weeds. An afternoon's work and a five-foot pile of compost later, I discovered the tree, and her family of bromeliads and bird's-nest fern that grow around the trunk. Not to mention the mysterious holes. I love holes in the trunks of trees.

So, here is my lovely Tree's graceful canopy.

And these are her delicate flowers.
 This is her shapely trunk, that is home to an entire ecosystem of living things in itself.
 And this is what I mean about the mysterious holes.
 Her space was loosely marked by a rough ring of stones around her base, but at some point a few months ago I got inspired. I started to go on regular rock-hunting trips along the edges of the waterways. I played around with them and this is what I ended up with.
 It's the first rock wall I have ever built, and I am so proud of it. I must have done a decent job of it, because it hasn't fallen down yet. I've filled it in with forest litter and cow manure and started a herb garden of those particular herbs that are known to be unpalatable to cows.
 So far I have thyme, rosemary, mint and lavender. They get morning and afternoon sun and seem to be thriving happily. Apparently, cows will not eat these herbs until they get really hungry, and the cows that come up here look so amazingly sleek and healthy and well-nourished that I don't think there's much danger of that happening.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

of the Cow Cage and the Drunken Lettuce Babies

This is the view from the door of my new home, looking out.

Yes, I know. How can I still call it my new home when I've been here more than a year and half now? But something strange is happening to my sense of time as I get older. It was when one year had passed that I got the feeling of really having arrived, of my body knowing that it doesn't live in the city any more. I feel like I'm just starting to get properly set up and organised now. It seems to me now that you have to spend a full year, a full cycle of the seasons, in a place to really know it. Maybe when I get to the second year, this won't be my 'new' home any more.

The beautiful tree provides shade in the space immediately in front of the hut, a godsend on hot, sunny days. It's a real faerie tree with lots of deep, mysterious holes in its trunk wherein the otherwordly may dwell - not to mention an astonishing variety of plant and fungal life forms. And just beyond that, you'll see the fenced space for the vegetable garden.

When I first arrived, I assumed that the fence was to keep the possums out. I'm used to people having to fence their gardens against possums. But it turns out that even though there are some possums around here - I can hear them at night - they seem to stay in the depths of the bush and not come near the dwellings. No, it turns out that this fence was built because of the cows. They will wander right up to the hut and munch anything that takes their fancy. And so I call it the cow cage - not for keeping cows in, but for keeping them out.

The metal walls for raised beds were in place when I got here - and that's about it. There wasn't much dirt in them, and no plants except for the weeds which would cover the whole surface of the ground inside the cow cage every time you turned your back on them. It's taken me all year to build up the beds and start some plants, and the garden bed is still operating at barely half of its full potential. I've still got a long way to go. The cows are doing their bit to help - I go down to the cow paddock and collect the manure to fill up the garden beds. Then the worms come back, and we start to get new soil. Maybe by next summer it will be the bursting bed of greenery I see in my mind's eye.

Earlier this year I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It's an amazing book that should be read by everyone who eats any food that they haven't grown themselves. I was inspired to do my little bit by finding an heirloom seed company to order seeds from, rather than supporting a multi-national company that is using its profits to patent and interfere with genetic material. I found The Lost Seed company online, and ordered an exciting array of seeds with such exotic monikers as Early Blood Turnip beetroots, Violet Sicilian cauliflowers and Drunken Woman lettuces.

I planted the Drunken Woman seeds while under the influence of a bottle of sparkling wine that was a birthday gift, and throughout the early spring we enjoyed the partly-maroon leaves of genunine Drunken Woman lettuces, planted by a genuine Drunken Woman. When they started to go to seed, I let them go, just to watch what would happen, even though I had no particular ambitions of seed-saving. After many years of growing various lettuces, I finally got to see what lettuce flowers look like. Not very impressive, is the answer.

But oh, what a wonderful garden-type surprise I got when I looked a little closer one day.

And over here- more babies! This is my first experience with self-seeded lettuce. I was so excited, I jumped up and down. Maybe you have to be a gardener to get that.

When I showed Majikfaerie, she said something along the lines of that was typical of the drunken sluts to just breed all over the place. I defended their anthropomorphic honour and pointed out that they are clearly good mothers, because the babies are healthy and well-nourished. It just goes to show, drunken women can be good mothers too.

And if all that wasn't exciting enough, this is the view just in front of the cow cage.