A Small But Positive Sign In The Shape Of A Snail

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” 
~  Oprah Winfrey

When we holidayed with a friend and her family early this year, her small children asked me what I had done to earn pocket money when I was little.

We didn’t get pocket money when we were growing up, but sometimes we would get paid for chores, and the one chore both my mother and grandmother would pay for was snail collection. Both of them were avid gardeners, and there were always so many snails threatening their annuals, vegetables and flowers. I would wake early each morning to silvery trails along all the paths, and of course all of the soft plants and flowers would have been nibbled voraciously. I’d be sent out with an empty ice-cream bucket (the family size!) to gather snails so they could be disposed of. I’d easily fill that bucket with perhaps half an hour’s work. They were everywhere, especially if you knew where to look.

Fast forward to today, and I have barely seen a single snail in years, except for the giant rainforest snails that we sometimes see around the farm. I’ve grieved and ached for that loss, and for my role in contributing to the demise of so many creatures. Our modern garden is so different to the gardens of my childhood. Where have all the snails gone? The bees? The insects? As a child I would amuse myself for hours catching small green grasshoppers or odd-looking beetles. There was an abundance of wildlife in my own back yard. Birds, dragonflies, stick insects, praying mantis, butterflies, Christmas beetles by the battalion, moths, all kinds of grubs and crawly things. And so many bees, especially when the summer lawn was full of clover.

Forty or so years later the skies and gardens seem empty. And I hadn’t seen a snail in my garden for a decade.

Until today. A tiny snail on one of my roses. Ben pointed it out to me. ‘Look, honey’, he said. ‘A snail is eating your rose.’ ‘Good!’ I responded. ‘I’ll grow more!’ If that little snail likes roses I will make sure she has an endless supply.

I can’t tell you how happy this one little snail has made me. I am hoping to soon see more.

A garden snail – courtesy of the Breathe Easy Project

Here in our little corner of the world, at our farm and at our neighbours, we don’t use chemicals or bug spray or any kind of pesticide. I favour companion planting. If bugs destroy a certain plant I make a note of it and either don’t grow it again or I grow lots of it so we can share it with the bugs, or so they can eat it and spare the rest of my garden.

Birds like to eat snails and bugs. So do lots of other critters. They are all part of the cycle of life, and I want for that biodiversity to continue. To that end we’ve planted lots of native flowering trees that are food for birds and butterflies and possums. We’ve placed birdbaths strategically around the garden. We’ve replanted species around the denuded areas of our farm to encourage biodiversity and restorative ecology. We farm organically. We use worm farms to enrich our soil and to compost all our food scraps. We do what we can to make our home a home for all.

Perhaps that little snail is a sign that we are doing something right.

Today I’m intending for you some small positive sign that you’re moving in the right direction too. Much love, Nicole   xx

 

 

My Favourite Morning Job

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.” 
~  Hermann Hesse

 

Here on the farm my favourite morning job is checking our water points. I slip on my gumboots (still usually dressed in my pyjamas!) and then go for a little walk to check the cattle troughs. They all fill by themselves with float valves except one up in the orchard, that we only need if the cattle are there.

If the cattle are grazing in the orchard I will take the heavy farm hose and top up the trough for them before the heat of the day comes. While it fills I talk to the cows and watch the birds doing their early morning circuits. Our skies are always busy just after dawn.

 

I’ll flick the hose around the vegetable gardens and note anything that needs picking. And yes, a few stray strawberries or sweet little tomatoes usually find their way into my mouth.

Back down at the house again my last stop is the birdbaths. I fill them up, and the one on our front deck has new flowers placed in it from whatever I have gathered from my morning walk.

It’s a peaceful start to my day that never fails to put me in a good mood.

I’m wishing you a peaceful day and happiness too, much love, Nicole  xx

 

Eagles and Cups of Tea

“Farewell,” they cried, “Wherever you fare till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!” That is the polite thing to say among eagles.
“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,” answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.” 
~  J.R.R. Tolkien

We are always up early, here at the farm. Right now we have weaners (calves that are being weaned from their mums) locked up in the yards being fed hay and taught yard manners while their mums’ milk dries up so we start our day down at the yards feeding out and checking water.

At the back of our farm we have a wedgetail eagle nest – a giant platform of sticks large enough for us all to sit in (if we could climb that high!). This year the eagles have hatched and reared three fledglings, and while we worked this morning they all took flight, riding the thermals about our farm.

It made my heart swell to watch them all; the majestic father with a feather missing in the leading edge of his right wing, the slightly smaller mother and then these three tentative and still clumsy juniors. When they landed in a Sydney Blue Gum at the back of our orchard it looked like 2 large men and their dogs sitting in the branches, so big are these birds.

They were still resting there when we finished our morning chores so we sat out in the backyard with our mugs of tea watching them. We only came in again when they took flight and soared off over the ridge and out of sight. (I added a photo below of the golden glow that surrounded us this morning!)

I hope you get a little outdoor time or time for a quiet cuppa today too.

Take care of yourself and each other, all my love, Nicole ❤ xx

The Best Blog Was The One I Didn’t Write!

“Have you ever seen the dawn? Not a dawn groggy with lack of sleep or hectic with mindless obligations and you about to rush off on an early adventure or business, but full of deep silence and absolute clarity of perception? A dawning which you truly observe, degree by degree. It is the most amazing moment of birth. And more than anything it can spur you to action. Have a burning day.” 
Vera Nazarian

 

I had a rough day yesterday, and then a rough night. In this week’s intensely intuitive energies some of my clients and students are struggling with the realisation that their lives that are far from alignment with their inner selves, or they have become overwhelmed with the weight of humanity’s problems. And there has been an influx of suicidal feelings for some, or for members of their family. So this week my phone has rung off the hook, my inboxes are jammed and the calls just keep coming. Since my fiftieth birthday in September I now feel every single emotion other people are holding within them as viscerally as if those emotions were mine. As you might imagine I went to bed totally drained, and woke the same, despite my regular meditation.

I had intended to blog, but nothing would come. So I walked.

In the murky twilight I threw a warm jacket over my pyjamas and put my feet into gumboots and I walked outside and into the paddocks.

The tawny frogmouth owls were singing to their chicks while feeding them an early breakfast. A powerful owl sat in the teak tree, feasting on the remains of a possum. Koalas grunted to each other in the trees, and the boughs above our house shook and danced as a group of possums jumped down and then ran across the roof of our tiny cottage, moving towards our shed where they will sleep throughout the day.

The air was alive with the sound of insects and birdsong as the sun slowly rose behind the hills, ready to illuminate the day.

As I walked further I saw one of our older cows lying down in the field. She was in an unnatural position, so I hurried over to check on her welfare, just as she finished pushing out a newborn calf. I stood quietly by while she broke open the sac and cleaned off the tiny animal, licking it until it began to push up on its brand new twiggy legs. Soon it was standing for the first time.

The cow and I both stood quietly together, catching our breath, and the newborn calf wobbled over to mum, found a teat and began to drink. Suddenly my world was calm and beautiful and milk-sweet.

Some ‘alone time’ in nature is always good medicine for me, and if you’re feeling things intensely this week I suggest it will be good medicine for you as well. Then perhaps some journalling and the pulling of a few cards so that you can explore your feelings and find pathways that give you choices, understanding and a way forward. Of course I also recommend a good cup of tea with that too!

Sending so much love your way, Nicole  xoxo

 

Magical And Surprising – Spring At The Farm!

“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.” 
~  John Galsworthy

It was a beautiful day at the farm here yesterday – all sunshine and rain and greenery and discovery and cups of tea and long rangey walks out into nature.

The gardenias are blooming, scenting the air with their rich perfume, and beyond the swimming pool Mr Grunty, our big male resident koala, looked down on us from his perch amidst the gumleaves and grunted his appreciation for the goodness of life and a break in the rain.

The vegetable gardens are groaning with produce, and I harvested a basket of kale for our dinner, under the watchful eye of Randal the garden gnome, whom we will give a coat of fresh paint on Sunday in honour of the change in seasons.

The coriander has all bolted while I was visiting the city, and so have my broccolini and lettuce.

I’ll let them go to seed and in no time at all there will be new baby shoots sprouting up by themselves. Perfect.

My beetroot has gone gangbusters too. After the unseasonally dry winter it has loved the sudden rain. This will soon be juiced or roasted.

As we walked down to the river paddock I thought I saw a coil of rope hanging off the gate post. But no, it was a green tree snake, entwined in the chain that usually latches the gate to the house paddock. We left her undisturbed. She was rather large, and oh so pretty!

All in all it was a wonderfully relaxing day, that has left me recharged and rested, ready for a big weekend of writing, planning and a little work.

Sending my love to you, and my wishes that you too get some recharge time over the next few days,

Nicole  xoxo

Road Trip Treasures!

“You can either be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It all depends on how you view your life.” 
~  Paulo Coelho

 

Late last week Ben and I slipped away from the farm for a few days.

We took a simple road trip into country New South Wales. Just to be together. Just to be on our own.

It’s been a very full year. This time twelve months ago I was preparing for major surgery. And since then there have been family health dramas, constant concern and worry for Ben’s aging mum, and then my latest near-death experience, back in May.

We were more than ready for some processing time, and a little distance between us and our problems.

We were gone for two and a half days. Not long at all. But it felt like weeks.

Here’s the secret of how we stretched time:

  1. We put our phones away and didn’t check our emails, social media or other distractions except to have a quick glance after breakfast and before dinner in case there was an emergency.
  2. We allowed ourselves early nights and plenty of rest.
  3. We kept our days simple and chose easy over ambitious.
  4. We stayed in the moment, engaged with each other and our surroundings.
  5. We held hands, we talked and deeply listened, and we held eye contact with each other and anyone we spoke to.

Those simple choices gave us the gift of replenishment. And if they worked for us I know they’ll work for you.

It was a super trip. Here’s a few of my highlights:

This is Beth, standing in front of the beautiful silk and merino wool shawls and scarves that she makes. Beth reinvented herself as an artist when she turned fifty, after attending a TAFE course in felting. She totally inspired me, and she gives awesome hugs too. (And yes, Ben bought me a gorgeous pink and coral shawl for my birthday!)

 

 

On our first night away we went for dinner at a local bowling club that does an all-you-can-eat $16 Chinese buffet on Thursday nights. It was packed with locals, all soaking up the ambiance that only plastic tablecloths, gold-painted honour boards, decorations from last Christmas and a gigantic empty dance floor can give. The food was delicious!

Book stores. You know the ones that are filled to the rafters with rare and old editions, as well as the latest reads? I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t come home with anything. I’ve now got some excellent reference books to research my next project. And I may have come away with one or two eclectic ancient cookbooks as well…

Op shops, second-hand shops, and those lucky dip kind of places where you walk through the door into a glorious clutter of wares old and new. I found some beautifully made old tablecloth and napkin sets at totally bargain prices, as well as a few little plates and bowls for serving tasty treats in. Oh, and some cake forks and a set of Japanese made 1950’s cocktail forks. And a cake tin. All of which will be put to good use here at the farm.

This glorious sewing, quilting and fabric shop fired up my imagination, and we managed to buy a packet of needles. Just the thing for me to dig all the splinters out of Ben’s hands from when he was off chainsawing and hauling timber earlier in the week.

We also enjoyed a quiet pub meal for two, sitting in an ancient dining room beside a roaring log fire on a frosty night. The table was set with real linen and a candle, and as we ate our delicious food we realised that it was the first time we’d had a romantic dinner date in Australia for over ten years!!! (My fault – my health has been crap, and I’m always in bed so early that we usually favour a breakfast outing or an early cafe meal.)

Ben’s already planning our next adventure.

How about you? Do you have a road trip planned or can you recommend one? I’d love to hear about it.

Much love from your rested and refreshed friend, Nicole xoxo

After Rest Comes Rejuvenation

“In a cool solitude of trees
Where leaves and birds a music spin,
Mind that was weary is at ease,
New rhythms in the soul begin.” 
~ William Kean Seymour

 

Are you taking some time for yourself this week?

As part of my be-gentle-with-myself healing process I spent the late afternoon in the garden yesterday, watching my dogs frolic, watering my vegetables and fruit trees, and inhaling the delectable fragrance of newly mown lawn.

Of course I couldn’t go anywhere without young Rufous following me. That dog is curious about everything!!!

When the air cooled and the sun began to dip behind the mountain we came inside, cooked dinner and curled up on the couch by the fire before an early night.

All that outside time made for a deep sleep!

Here are a few snaps of my soul medicine session.
Much love, Nicole xx