“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” ~ Maya Angelou
Our beautiful young red cattle dog, Rufous, has found a new calling.
He’s certainly at home on our farm doing his chores and rounding up the cows. But he’s also discovered a wonderful hidden talent – he’s become a hit at the aged care facility where one of our family members lives. The home is for women with moderate to advanced dementia, and it has become his favourite destination.
Rufous is a gentle boy. He’s only just turned two, so you think he’d still have a puppy-brain (and if you watched him run around like a demented pixie with his dog brother Harry here at our farm you’d KNOW he is still just a pup) but when he is in the presence of these frail elderly women he suddenly becomes attentive, caring, responsible and wise.
He seems to know when someone needs extra love and attention. In his presence, the women smile and laugh. Some of them talk to him when they are silent for everyone else. He stands so still for them to pat him or hug him clumsily, and always seeks out the shy ones who stand back and would otherwise not get a turn to say hello.
This little rescue dog has paid the favour forwards.
“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.” ~ Bill Watterson
Down in our part of the world we’ve been in drought all Summer. The land has been so dry that the pasture has become crunchy and brown beneath our feet. Great cracks have opened up in the land. Our dam is down to a few bucketfuls of water, a little mud and a last few waterlilies grimly hanging on. So many plants have died. And all the moss, the lichens, and the soft native grasses.
I haven’t planted out my usual Summer vegetable garden. Too hot. Too dry. Too hard.
The staghorns and elkhorns are dying and falling from the trees from lack of water. The ground is covered in leaves as if it were Autumn aa the trees have struggled to survive.
Slow and steady, gentle, easing rain.
My cheeks are wet too. Thought not from the sky. From gratitude.
Is there a more beautiful fragrance that rain upon parched earth?
In celebration I’m going to have a Flash Sale tomorrow. My way of giving thanks. One day of deep discounts and bundled bargains. Stay tuned!
“Pleasure is wild and sweet. She likes purple flowers. She loves the sun and the wind and the night sky. She carries a silver bowl full of liquid moonlight. She has a cat named Midnight with stars on his paws. Many people mistrust Pleasure, and even more misunderstand her. For a long time I could barely stand to be in …the same room with her…” ~ J. Ruth Gendler
I couldn’t sleep last night.
It was hot, and I was feverish. I tossed and turned for a while and then left my bed and crept outside to the back verandah.
The house was silent, and the night was deep. There was barely a hint of cool, and not a lick of moisture to be had. But that night air was sweet with the smell of summer grasses and the calm exhalations of the forest and mountain behind us.
A high overcast blanketed the stars so all there was was the darkness, me and the quiet shrill and hum of the night creatures. Eventually, even they fell silent and then the night belonged to me.
I breathed the earth in until my body grew so still and peaceful that nothing mattered anymore. I was cradled by the night, and by the earth, and by the silence.
And then I returned to bed and slept deeply until first light.
This morning I will walk along the beach with my feet in the water and my shoulders in the sun before the heat of the day scorches everything with her hot breath.
It doesn’t matter. I still have the night and her sweet comfort in every cell of my body and I am still at peace.
Wishing for you some time in nature this weekend too,
“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” ~ Laura Gilpin
There’s a heatwave moving slowly across Australia this week.
That means you’ll find us near the water. River, ocean, swimming pool. Any and all of them.
All our birdbaths are full, and we’ve added extra saucers and bowls of water on the ground for all of the critters who will be affected too.
If you’re in affected part of Australia please remember to stay hydrated, to keep your pets cool and hydrated, and to check on elderly family members. Heat waves kill more people that storms and floods, and they do it silently.
“Good stories are like those noble wild animals that make their home in hidden spots, and you must often settle down at the entrance of the caves and woods and lie in wait for them a long time.” ~ Hermann Hesse
This morning started as it always did. I meditated at 4am, and then rose with the first rays of streaky dawn to come sit and my desk and write a blog post.
But as I sat here at my desk with its view of the distant front paddock, our little home cradled by a circle of old trees whose leaves hang in fringes around every window, I became lost in the story of the morning.
Up in an ancient tree sat a powerful owl. He spotted me at my desk and nodded sleepily, before blinking his eyes shut again.
Over the parched grass under the teak tree Cedric the massive carpet python who usually lives in our roof came home from his nightly hunt. He wound himself up the teak and into the branchest closest to the house, which dipped and swayed under his weight. Then he slid across the frangipani and I watched as he disappeared from sight. A few minutes later I heard the rustle and thump as he settled in the roof above me.
Zebidee, the little water dragon, came and settled himself on the edge of the large ceramic pot we use as a bird bath. Can you see him here in one of our other pots, hiding among the leaves?
Bruce the baby Scrub Turkey ran dementedly in circles in the far corner of the yard before running into the tangle of leaves and long grass under the Bunya Pines. I was grateful to see him and know he was still alive. He’s starting to get wing feathers now. We’ve also seen one of his siblings recently too.
The Lewin’s Honeyeaters have been bathing in the water bowl I keep for them on the front verandah and have almost splashed it dry. So now I will go make a mug of tea and grab the garden hose and stroll around the garden, refilling the bird baths and watering my potted herbs and flowers before the heat of the day comes.
So, I intended to write something else, but I got lost in the world outside my window.
I hope you find some ordinary wonders and some time for yourself today too,
“There is more to life than making a living. Do not work more than you live.” ~ Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Right now we have a friend and her little girls vacationing with us here at the farm. Each day the girls have farm chores to do – watering the gardens and fruit trees (it is very dry here right now), feeding the goldfish in the big ceramic pot that sits by the front door, and feeding some hay to the cows and all the new little calves. It’s a late calving season this year, and we’ve had three new calves in the past week and another few will probably arrive soon too!
Amidst all the farm work there has also been time for breakfasts at our favourite Byron Bay cafe, swims in the pool, outings to the bookshop, cooking lessons in my little farmhouse kitchen, time for reading and for colouring in our January Mandalas.
I’ve still been working, sneaking off into my office to write blogs, work on our retreats and courses and to do readings for clients. But work has that relaxed holiday feel to it, and it has been a pleasure to sit down at my desk every day to write and craft our projects for the year ahead.
Yesterday was particularly exciting. We decided that dinner would be a cocktail party on the verandah. No special reason – just because we could.
It was compulsory to wear a flower in our hair, and we all put on some party clothes. Ben chose a great selection of music, and then we sat outside and snacked and talked and laughed the night away. We also had a great box of cards that we took turns choosing, that prompted us to share something we were proud of, grateful for, favourite songs, achievements. That part was probably the highlight of my day!
I made non-alcoholic mango cocktails for the girls, and we adults shared glasses of Prosecco with preserved hibiscus flowers in the bottom of each glass for a fancy party effect.
Our food included fresh local oysters and prawns (shrimp), and a selection of cheeses and dips, crackers, olives, cold meats, fruits and snacks. Delicious. And of course a few morsels seemed to slip off those platters and into our dogs’ tummies. Although I can’t see how that happened!
What can be better in life than creating new shared memories with friends?
Today? More Planner time for me, a little writing time and cooking lessons: foundation biscuit mixture and variations, and later we’ll make tacos for dinner.
I’m wishing you a year of balance, connection, fun and meaningful work too.
“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” ~ Charles de Lint
The other morning, as the house slumbered on, I quietly closed the kitchen door behind me and walked up to the pool which sits in the big open back paddock behind our farmhouse.
My plan was to go for a sunrise swim and enjoy some quiet time on my own after my morning meditation.
I thought I’d be alone. But when I entered the pool enclosure I found a small wet bird miserably balanced on the floating hose of our creepy crawly pool cleaner. He was shaking and looked barely conscious. I eased myself into the water so that no ripples would knock him off his precarious perch and made my way to him. He gave no protest as I scooped him up. The little bird was just a fledgling, a ball of downy fluff and wings not yet formed.
I took him back to the house and warmed him against my body, and then placed him in a covered cardboard box that was dark and warm. Then I called WIRES – the Australian wildlife rescue network – and we worked together to make sure that this little bird would survive and be safe.
Our little visitor is an Australian Brush Turkey fledgling. They are also known as Bush Turkeys or Scrub Turkeys, and they grow to quite a size. Mum and Dad turkey build a huge mound of leaves as a nest and spend much time incubating and protecting the eggs. But once they hatch the tiny birds are on their own. And this little fella had experienced a very rough night and was exhausted from his ordeal.
After a little care he perked right up by day’s end, so I released him back close to where I found him.
I wondered what would become of him, and if he would be okay.
The very next afternoon he ran straight through the kitchen door and then eluded capture for the next twenty minutes. After sipping water from the dog bowl he ran back outside again.
We named him Bruce.
Bruce came back twice more that day and we found him asleep – burrowed into some old teatowels in the laundry basket on the back verandah at day’s end.
He’s now become a regular sight, darting about our yard or in and out of the house as he sees fit. Our dogs watch him with curiosity but ignore him. He’s just passing traffic to them, like the many lizards, birds, possums, bandicoots, wallabies, koalas, cows and occasional peacocks that visit our space.
And one day he’ll grow big and look like this! (See pic below)
Bruce could not have known I would show up that morning to rescue him. If I’d been five minutes later the automatic timer on the creepy crawly would have kicked in and Bruce would have drowned.
Life’s like that sometimes. Help comes right at the last moment.
So the next time you feel like Bruce and there’s nothing more you can do to save yourself, hang on. Life often has a funny way of lending a hand when you least expect it.
Much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx
PS – here’s a cool little 3-minute documentary to show you what Bruce will look like as he grows up!
“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” ~ L.M. Montgomery
After far too long in the city I’m heading home this morning.
Home to our farm in the Byron Hills.
Home to greenery and fresh air and quiet nights and mornings filled with birdsong.
Home to music and writing and journalling and playing with my new YOM 2019 Planner.
Home to baking and swimming and digging in the garden and walking on the beach.
Home to farmers markets and my favourite cafes.
I can’t honestly tell you how that makes me feel. There isn’t an adequate word for what home feels like. It’s happiness and a giant hug and freedom and comfort all rolled into one.
I hope you can find a little of that feeling for yourself today or sometime soon,
“The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.” ~ Haruki Murakami
After a short holiday we arrived back at our little farm in the Byron Hills yesterday. It was so good to be home, so good to be in our own space, to find our dogs happy and content, to see our friend who housesat for us tanned and relaxed and well.
I’d thought I would tumble into bed early, but as all the lights turned out and night wrapped itself around us I found that I was wide awake. Leaving everyone sleeping I snuck outside and sat on the steps, looking up at the dark bowl of the sky above my head.
The air was alive with the call of frogs and crickets, the chitter of bats, the grunts of koalas, the flap of owl-wing. The soft night was tinged with chill, and fragrant with spring blossoms and that honest smell of cows and damp earth. The sky was bright with stars.
The trees breathed in rhythm with me. The world turned. And gently, gently something within me clicked back into place again. I was home!
I finally put my weary body back to bed, sliding between the cool clean sheets in the darkened room. I woke this morning not remembering having fallen asleep, but having slept deeply and well.
There is such comfort to be had in embracing the fullness of my life.
Today I’m wishing that heart-fulness for you too.
All my love, Nicole ❤xoxo
“Even though the bee is small, there she is on the flower, doing something of value. And the value she creates there contributes to a larger ecosystem of value, in that mountain meadow, in that range of mountains, in the world and even the universe. And can’t you just feel how happy she is?” ~ Jay Ebben
A few years ago, during a channelling session at one of my Pop-Up Shop events my fairy friend Sokli spoke about the importance of bees – and how we could help to support them by planting blue, white, purple and yellow flowers. She also asked us to let our lawns go a bit wild, because clover and other flowering legumes and herbs supported so many bees, moths and insects, which in turn supported the lizards and frogs and birds, and so on in the web of life.
My husband Ben was there that night recording the session for me. A few days later, home at the farm, I watched him drive the ride-on mower erratically around the house garden. Why? He was doing what Sokli asked and avoiding all the clover patches.
I’m happy to report that we have a thriving bee population now, of many species. And lawns filled with buzzy clover patches.
Please spare a thought for our bee friends and avoid using chemicals on your lawns and gardens. It would be terrific if you could plant some bee-friendly plants in pots or in your garden beds, and help to create some small habitats that can support a healthier happier planet. Plus you’ll get the bonus of nature’s beauty!
And if you’d like to come to my next Pop-Up Shop Channelling event in November you can find out more about that here.