I was going to write something else…


“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,

All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

Australia Day, 2015

Image from abc.net.au

Image from abc.net.au

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt

“Our true nationality is mankind.”
~ H.G. Wells

 

I’d thought to write a rousing piece for Australia Day – my country’s national day of celebration.

Or perhaps something humorous.

A blog full of pictures of pavlova and koalas. Kangaroos, killer sharks and Ayers Rock.

Image from tnooz.com

Image from tnooz.com

Maybe a tasty recipe to share at that traditional Australia Day barbeque.

But when I came to the page this morning, I found my heart so swelled with melancholy, nostalgia, love and pain, that no words came.

I love this country. Her dust is in my veins. After my time in the Kimberley with my Aboriginal Aunties I truly understand what it means to belong to country. To feel the pulsing heart of this great land beating as one with your own.

Even as my heart soars with the beauty and mystery of this country, it is breaking too. Breaking as I watch the effects of global warming. Breaking as I watch whole tracts of land laid waste by mining.

Breaking as I watch our government turn people away from Australia’s shores, forgetting that we were all once boat people too.

And my broken heart is also swollen with love. Love for the people who work this land. Love for the artists and the dreamers. Love for the good and honest people who value mateship and a fair go. Love for the people who serve, defend and protect us. All of the people whose lives are measured by how they contribute to family, community, society. Most of them who’ll never know an honour, or a medal, or a parade.

I guess that to love is also to hurt. How can it be otherwise when you care so deeply?

I am grateful to be born Australian. To know freedom and sunshine and plenitude.

Today I’ll gather with my husband and friends and we’ll share a meal, some stories and some laughs, and I’ll count my blessings.

Happy Australia Day!

The Frog Choir

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“Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone’s very heart. There was no sense of performance or judgment, only that the music was breath and food.”
~ Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

 

It’s been a magical few days here at our little farm.

We had a relaxing and love-filled Christmas; a sunny day with ocean swims, followed by swims in the pool and lots of delicious food.

The good weather lasted another day and then rain came. Rather a lot of rain. In fact, it flooded us in, and we lost power for an afternoon and evening.

No matter, we read books, lit candles and went to sleep really early. After which we slept in really late! Oh, it was heavenly.

It’s still overcast this morning, with little scudding showers, although the creek over the causeway is back down again. All of the frogs have gone totally crazy with this constant rain, and the sudden drop in temperature. We have more green tree frogs than I’ve ever seen. They sing constantly, and the air is alive with their croaking. What’s more, they’ve spawned in every bucket, water trough, flooded pot-plant and even the swimming pool.

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It’s been a wonderful break – I disconnected from the internet, my phone, blog and emails for four glorious days. All I’ve done is rest, nap and sleep. (Yes – they are different activities!)  Just what the doctor ordered!

Stay tuned – over the next few days I’ll have some planning exercises and meditations to get your ready for an awesome 2015.

Are you ready for your best year yet? I know I surely am!

Lots of love, Nicole xx

frog

 

What Australia Day means to me

Candy Holding the Australian Flag - image from Sydney Zoo

Candy Holding the Australian Flag – image from WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

“I am compelled into this country.” 
~ Patrick White, Voss

“If you would know this country, you must know its stories.” 
~ Billy Marshall Stoneking

Australia Day for me has always been a celebration of what makes me feel Australian. It’s a combination of landscape, energy, history and connection with those souls who have walked this land before me. And a gratitude for having been born under these wide open skies, with space and freedom as my birthright.

As a child, on many an Australia Day long weekend, my dad would take us to his best friend’s house. Sometimes we’d even join their family and visit some of their relatives in the country. Evan, Dad’s mate, was a school teacher with an abiding love of the bush, and a strong social conscience. Looking back, these were formative times for me.

There was always a tribe of kids running round like lunatics, adults drinking beers and tossing steaks and snags (sausages) on a barbecue, lamingtons, fruit salad and pavlova, a game of cricket, and as the afternoon wore on, a recital of poetry and short stories from the likes of Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson, Judith Wright, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall.

At night, while the other kids would bunk down telling ghost stories or watching a video, I would quietly sneak in to where the adults were sitting. Thereafter would follow more poetry, philosophy and perhaps some Australian History. Evan would regale us with tales of convict life, early settlement, the waves of immigrants, wars in which we’d fought, and of that time before Australia was colonised. He’d talk about the great Bunya Nut feasts, and of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Evan had taught, and what they had taught him.

I would drink in these stories until my soul was full to bursting.

Inside me a tiny flame was sparked and fanned. My fascination with my country and its collective history was born from these gatherings.

This is my Australia. A land of poets and artists. A land of plenty and of hardship. A land of ancient wisdoms and new beginnings. A place of fantastic landscape, and a rich diversity of flora and fauna.

This is my Country:

wallabs

koala

NicoleCrab

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Regrowth after the 1976 Divide fire; Don Despain; July 1977

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Bert in ute

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“And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.” 
― A.B. Paterson, Clancy Of The Overflow

Possum Attack!

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“The fear of burglars is not only the fear of being robbed, but also the fear of a sudden and unexpected clutch out of the darkness.” ~ Elias Canetti

 

I had hoped to be bringing you a Guided Meditation this morning, but no…

Instead I’m blogging about possums, because it’s their fault I’m not.

I’m staying in my city house right now, doing some psychic appointments and catching up with family. It’s just me and Bert the dog, and Bert has suddenly morphed into the most protective of hounds, especially at night.

Every little noise is worthy of investigation, which means we’ve had slightly interrupted sleep. Until last night, when the possums attacked. Then we got no sleep at all. 🙁

possum

Possums use the power lines along our street as a form of rapid transit system. Which means they scurry past, right outside my bedroom window, from early evening until dawn.

And Bert’s had enough. He’s just not coping with them leaping into the trees outside the bedroom. What if they kept going and crashed through the window?

He’s not happy about them thumping along the roof, sounding more like huge burglars  than small marsupials.

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Every time a possum comes close Bert takes it upon himself to leap on top of me as I try to sleep, hackles raised as he protects me from possible attack. When it seems I am safe he leaps off again and runs around the house to check the perimeter. Bert has declared war on possums!

Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep last night.

But dawn is breaking and the last possum has made it home to bed, and that’s where I’m going now – to try and grab a little more shut-eye before my work day starts. I promise that tomorrow there will be a guided meditation. I might make a soothing one for Bert too! It’s very hard being the super-responsible senior dog of the family…

And tonight I shall shut all the windows, crank up the air-conditioning to drown out the noise of those pesky possums, and tuck myself under the covers, one arm reassuringly around big brave Bert.

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Outback Australia – A Snapshot

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“We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.” ~ Shirley Abbott

I picked up a stone yesterday and put it in my pocket. I walked on a little further, stopped and picked up another. One stone for me and one for my sister. When I get home I’ll let her choose one, and we can hold them and be anchored to Longreach – the place our grandfather was born.

I’m feeling my heritage with every breath, every footstep. I can feel the stories of my ancestors stirring within me.

Here are some images of the past few days, so you can get a sense of where I am right now. It’s vast, wild and majestic.

Sending you much love from the Outback, Nicole xx

emu

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Nurse Bert

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“A nurse will always give us hope,
an angel with a stethoscope.”
~Terri Guillemets

 

Nurse Bert is very busy right now.  As well as looking after me as I travel through extensive and arduous Lyme disease treatment, he is now caring for young Harry as well.

Harry had surgery for his bottom jaw yesterday.  If you’re not caught up with my blog you can read about Harry’s problems here:

Will you still love me broken?

Here’s brave young Harry at the University of Queensland Vet Clinic, about to embark on his operation.

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Bert has always been a caring dog by nature.  He picks up the slack as my Business Assistant whenever the work is getting on top of me…

PA Bert

and he has been the Protector of his younger brother since Harry was a tiny pup.

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We’re so lucky that Bert found his way to us.  His own story is quite remarkable as well:

Treasure in a Cardboard Box

Well, Nurse Bert has my cup of tea and morning meds ready, so I must go. Wishing you all a fabulous weekend, filled with self-care, lots of rest, and a little bit of magic.  Bless ♥ xx

Rain is better than drought…

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I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

~ From ‘My Country by Dorothea Mackellar

We endured eight hard years of drought at our old farm –  a cattle property in the Lockyer Valley. Slowly the grass turned brittle as straw and the dams dried up as we looked to the empty skies for rain. The cattle ate the grass down to nubs and we trucked in feed, and sold down stock.

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Water was rationed so carefully. A bucket of water for a shower, a quarter of a mug to clean your teeth. The grass powdered away to dust, and then the trees began to die.  The wildlife disappeared, and there were no insects left to bite us, no birds to wake us with their morning call.  Everything was drab, barren, baked brown and devoid of life.

All we talked about was the possibility or lack of rain, the cost of feed and who might still have some, and our great worry for neighbours and friends we knew who were doing it tough – financially or emotionally.  Anxiety, depression, suicide – they became regular visitors in our part of the world. Families broke apart, or walked off land held by generations before them.

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Big kangaroos moved in towards the coast from out west and ended up at our place, competing for what little food was left, and feral pigs rooted up our paddocks looking for roots and moisture.

It was miserable, and it nearly broke us.

dam

So we moved to Possum Creek in the Byron Bay hinterland; a farm tiny by comparison, but so much more fertile.

The locals call it a drought here if we go a month without rain. Right now, rain seems to be all we have.  We’ve been flooded in three times in the past few months, lost power, lost fences and one cow, and had multiple trees and branches down.  Many of my vegetables have rotted in the ground. We’ll be lucky to get a crop from the organic citrus orchard this year.

Luckily our old farm house was built nestled into the side of a hill, so the buildings won’t flood – we just have to put up with a little damp and mold.

Still, I’ll take rain over drought any day. My water tanks are overflowing, and I can enjoy long hot soaks in the bath every day.

When I walk out my door there is an abundance of fresh blooms for my table. Everything seems to be flowering. Green is a colour that is lush and easy on the eye.  There is no hardship in looking out over emerald fields.

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The cattle might have wet feet, and they huddle under trees as the rain belts down, but their bellies are full, and there is water enough for them to drink out of seasonal streams as well as the dams, creeks and river.

ducks on the dam

Everywhere I look there is something to appreciate. Glossy leaves, flowers, new life.

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The local wildlife are soggy, but well fed. During breaks in the rain they pop out to forage, hoping for a small patch of sun to dry themselves out. Then they scoot back under cover as the rain pours down again.

pademelonThe waterways are washed clean, silt is deposited on the flats to renew the soil, and replenishment is everywhere.

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This morning I’m sitting with a mug of tea cradled in my hands, listening to torrential rain on the roof and the mad croak of frogs, and watching the blur of micro-bats gobbling up all the mosquitoes on the side veranda. I’m wondering if it’s nearly time to go.

Lyme and my meds are giving me a twitchy right eye and a stabby, burny left eye, headaches, joint pain and my big fat heart is twinging a little too much for my liking. Not a great look for getting trapped on the wrong side of a wall of water.  The weather radar shows rain, rain and more rain today, and predicts the same for the rest of the week. At sun up Ben will go check the causeway and sad as it will make me, it looks like we’ll be heading back to the city.

Maybe I’ll go buy some new gumboots while I’m there.  When Bert was a puppy his needle-like teeth put pinholes all through my left gumboot.  It would be nice to have two warm dry feet instead of one warm dry foot and one cold soggy one!

gumboots

This gorgeous gumboot image by Julia Wright

Home, after Rain

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“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”~ Jane Austen

I’m home. I slept last night in my own bed. After so long in the city it was good beyond measure to be here at my little farm, surrounded by a thick blanket of peace and the sounds of night; cattle lowing, croaking frogs, the grunts of the koalas and the cries of the owl.

I woke just before 4am, as is my wont, to meditate for a dear friend and her 99-year-old father who  is in his final days. The air was fresh and cool against my skin, and so quiet you could almost hear the earth breathing in and out. My wise owl sat just above me in the Jacaranda, and we communed together a while.

Now the sun is up, and there are the first stirrings of the day.  The world is waking to the sound of the Magpies, Black Cockatoos and Kookaburras, who seem especially joyful this morning.

There is heavy mist, and the air is moist and humid. All around me is lush greenery, and everything is bursting forth buds and new growth.

There’s more rain coming. The creeks and rivers are already turgid and brown.  It won’t take much for them to burst their banks. We’re keeping one eye on the weather, and our bags will stay packed, ready to leave so that we won’t be flooded in again.

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The cows and their calves are fat as butter from the flush of fresh feed, and Mama Possum and her baby banged around on the roof last night to let us know they were here so that I would leave fruit out for them this morning.

I was worried everything would have rotted in the vegetable garden, but I found a handful of heritage French Breakfast radishes to add to my morning juice, and my parsley, mint, passionfruit, citrus and guavas are all going mad.  Hooray!

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I can’t stop smiling, and neither can the dogs. We’re home. Free to ramble through the paddocks, to breathe in the good, clean country air, to say hello to all our friends and neighbours, and to just be.

There is something so comforting about being home.  I’m glad you got to share some of this good energy with me.

Sending you much love, Nicole. Bless ♥ xx

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Safe Haven

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And now for another update via my magical iphone…

It has been cyclonic here at the farm the past few days. Trees down everywhere, extensive flooding, wild winds…

There is still no power, but this morning the wind has died down and the sun is out although big black clouds are building up behind us.

All I can hear is the drone of insects and the whine of chainsaws as Ben and our neighbours tackle the downed trees, blocked roads and smashed or washed away fences. So much work to do.

Of course I am not out there helping. Instead I am resting on the veranda with our latest houseguests.

Microbats!

The poor things have been buffeted and bewildered by the maelstrom so they have taken up a cosy position above the bathroom until things get back to normal. I have counted 22 so far.

Our carpet snakes are sunning themselves on a dry bit of
concrete near the back door. The wallabies are feasting in my waterlogged vegetable garden.

Quite the guesthouse we have here. But don’t bother visiting yet. Unless you have a canoe or a helicopter…

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