Thursday, January 9, 2014

Farewell Goanna Downs

Sadly, my trial run of country living is about to end for a spell after this week. The owners of Goanna Downs are returning from their holiday and our house sitting gig will be over when they get home.  We will be back in town by Saturday night.

I did not know what to expect when we moved to this temporary home.  I had never spent this much time in a rural setting in my life and it seemed the perfect opportunity to test myself since the place we will eventually be living is only 2.2 kms up the road. We don't have quite the spread - 5 acres vs 270, but the surrounds are very similar and the road to town is the same one we have been driving these past three weeks. We are surrounded by neighbouring sugar cane fields and bush in the same way. The same King Parrots and kangaroos and wallabies and goannas and other wildlife will be present as will the starry nights and balmy evening breezes.

I will likely even still hear the distant moans of cows and the early morning wake-up call of the kookaburras, so although the plot of land we will inhabit is smaller, it is just as serene and peaceful as this larger piece of paradise we have had the good fortune to enjoy here.  As the gardens and land around the house were not mine to tend as we stayed here, I had to resist the urge to get my hands dirty the way I would were it mine. I have missed gardening these last few years since I left my house and I am eager to create a new garden and home in this vastly different climate and landscape.

See ya Decomama :(

Goanna Downs has given me a chance to observe the conditions and the type of trees and plantings I can expect here.  The owners here have had 25 years or more turning this block of land into their much cherished home and their personality and experience shines through in every aspect of this warm and inviting landscape. Being here just long enough to start to get a feel for this area and the daily patterns of light and weather and the comings and goings of the local farmers has given me a taste of things to come.

Today we went into town for the Thursday market and I found myself closely observing the various stalls and the people running them. Many of them are farmers and rural dwellers themselves and it got me thinking of the various small cottage industries I might eventually develop myself.  There are so many things I could turn into a modest income even with our small (in comparison) plot of land.  Organic gardening will top my list and I did notice an absence of that at the market.  I could do year round herbs and then add other veggies as the season dictates.  I could do a specialty "Canadian" offering...Maple Syrup flavoured goodies and butter tarts perhaps? There is only one other woman there with baked sweet goods and one with breads so the competition is not too severe.  

The possibilities really do seem endless and the interesting thing to me about it all is that with the drive to make oodles of money no longer part of the equation, it can just be more about offering something for sale that is unique and different that would allow me to become a part of this small community and get to know the locals.  I found myself stopping to chat with some of the vendors today as I have started to get to know some of them and it was such a lovely feeling asking them about their wares and listening while they explained the features and benefits of their products.

  One such vendor was the owner of Essentially Avocado who makes her own skin creams and lotions from her own avocado orchard, pressing her own avocado oil and only uses other natural ingredients in the mix.  She rubbed some on the back of my hand with her weathered fingers and as I spoke to her and sensed her passion for her creations and looked at the sincerity in her eyes, I loved how she was clearly passionate about what she was offering. She was a simple woman, hard working, her skin care products an off shoot of her avocado and mango farm. She was also selling mangoes (which I sampled and cannot get enough of these days) and she told me that the avocados would be ready for picking at the end of February, early March - something else I am really looking forward to with great anticipation.

After living in a large city for so long, it is easy to forget that there are so many people out in the world just eking out a living in these ways.  They may not be getting rich from their sales each week at the local markets, but the trade off of country living seems to be enough. 

I am fairly convinced it will be enough for me too.

(Oh, and by the way ladies...that cream she rubbed on the back of my hand 4 hours ago is still leaving my skin supple...she may be on to something with her avocado oil!) 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Green Demons in the Dark of Night

Remember when you were a kid and you used to think there were monsters under your bed? Maybe you still do even as an adult. I have also considered toilets a possible source for monster habitats and over the years have always made sure I took a good look in toilet bowls all over the world before use. We have all heard crazy stories about snakes and other creatures making their way into these little porcelain ponds, so, in my mind, it is better to err on the side of caution, especially if you are faced with using an out house or port-a-potty. 

So, now that I have enlightened you with my private behaviour upon entering the water closets of the world, allow me to share my story...a true story...a recent story...less than 12 hours ago in fact. Sit back, relax, and allow me to regale you with my 3 AM tale of TERROR!

Yes, that's right...TERROR!  For those of you with weak hearts or sensitive tummies, you may want to stop reading now. OK, OK, it's not that frightening...but that is all relative of course and depends on your level of tolerance of all things creepy and crawly.

It was a hot and muggy night at Goanna Downs. The ceiling fan, the only comfort as I lay naked atop the cool cotton sheets. Half asleep, a bit tossy and turny, I felt the familiar call from my bladder in the middle of the night. The one that just won't go away no matter how much you try to ignore it...the call that does not exist when you are young and your bladder behaves like a camel. Nowadays it just cannot make it through the night. I know if I do not get up, it will nag and nag until I do, so finally, I give in. 

If there is enough filtered moonlight, I will forgo turning on lights so as to try and maintain as little awakening as possible, but last night, the clouds were shadowing whatever light was emitting from the January new moon and I had to flick the switch on. I took my customary glance into the vitreous China bowl and saw nothing too unfamiliar. I did note a wee bit of debris that might have gotten left behind from the previous is fairly standard out here in the bush with the low water pressure and septic system. I did hesitate and wonder if I should take a closer look, but it seemed innocuous and hence, proceeded to sit on the throne to pee.

Just as I began to release my pent up urine, the HORROR began! Something touched the back of my thigh, just where it meets my tiny bottom (OK, not so tiny), and that's when the SHREAKING began! OMG! OMG! AAAAAAAAHHHHH! There is something in the toilet! I jumped off the seat faster than my Kiegel reflex's ability to stop the flow and now not only did I have to deal with a monster in the toilet, I had to deal with the slippery puddle on the polished slate flooring as I fled to the safety of my bedroom screaming to be rescued from the demon of the dark night. What? What? What is it darlin? Now the fear had really kicked in and my voice is all shaky and crackly and I tell him there is something in the toilet and now I think I am going to start crying like a 4 year old and he, being the brave hero he is, jumps out of bed to slay the dragon in the toilet with all the bravado and machismo I have come to expect of him.

I am now busy mopping up my mess and he is calling me to come and I peek around the corner and lo and behold, the creature that was just moments earlier sliding his slippery body against mine is sitting on the edge of the seat, clearly now claiming the throne as his own. All that was missing from this scene was the crown upon his bright green head and buggy eyes. You little bastard I thought. How dare you invade my private spaces. Get RID of him I am shouting now. Catch him! Catch him! He was a slippery devil and he slid out of my dragon slayer's  hand once, but not twice and was delivered out the back door into the night post haste.

I calmed down and hit the shower for obvious reasons and once I dried off, I came back to bed and knew that this 3 am wake-up call was going to keep me from re-entering the Land of Nod for a good while. We both laid awake now, and as the entire event was replayed in my mind and our play by play description of what had just happened started to settle in, my trauma turned to hilarity. How could an Australian Green Tree Frog scare me half to death? It even occurred to me that I may have scared him half to death as I may have actually given him a bit of a he will never forget either!

And so, another adventure in my new life as Lisa Douglas comes to an end.