Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Before Christmas

It's hard to believe that we could have a whole weekend free before Christmas, but as it turned out, we did. Which is a blessing because our girls are tired. The end of year madness is wearing them out and Una has reverted to sleeping in the afternoons, either crashing out in the car or secretly nodding off on the couch in front of the television. The days she doesn't sleep we try and give her a mid afternoon bath, which is the happiest place in the world to Una and we've had enough rain that the tank allows for some non-essential washery.

Yesterday we drove up to Kinglake, the next town down the road. It's a hairy drive, a narrow country road with lots of deathwish bicyclists and motorbikes carrying what an old friend in Adelaide used to refer to as temporary citizens. In fact the day we took ownsership of this house we drove up there and very nearly got wiped out by an errant log truck (they're supposedly banned from using the road). Anyway, it's worth it, partly for the exhilaration of survival but mostly because Kinglake is beautiful with some awesome views of the city and a real sense of being out out out of the city. Anyway, yesterday we had a destination in mind - a raspberry farm where you can do all your own picking because in Australia Christmas isn't Christmas without fresh berries. The PYO rasberries are $15 a kilo, which still isn't especially cheap compared to the raspberry prices in Tasmania but is good for Victoria where punnets remain well over the $5 mark for most of the season (cherries are cheap and delicious though this year, Christmas isn't Christmas without cherries either).

The girls are great pickers. Una ate all the 'broken' ones and Fred, I think, ate every single one she picked, while Martin and I filled up our buckets. I sampled a few too. They are delicious.

We stopped at a nursery on the way home with a real country cafe - I had a cold meatloaf sandwich and a caramel slice, Martin had a ploughman's lunch with thick slices of cold corned beef, tomatoes, apple, various cheeses. The girls had herb scones with cheese - at one stage I remarked that I felt like we'd stumbled into an Enid Blyton novel. And then we had desserts too - caramel slice and lemon tarts and jelly and icecream for the girls. We bought some pink flowers and pineapple sage for my little flower patch near the fairy door (this photo makes me realise just how far the garden has come), and then spent the rest of the day outside. Martin massacared the last of the agapanthus - we rejoice in its demise - Fred played with the next-doors and Una cried intermittently till we put her in the bath. I walked down to the barrow on the main road and bought a few more plants for $1 each, dropping my coins into the honesty box.
For dinner fresh pesto, made with basil from the garden and olive oil from the olive grove down the road. Which Martin and I ate outside, driven out by Fred's bewildering new love for Spongebob Squarepants (yeah yeah, sometimes our kids eat dinner in front of the TV).

I have been meaning to blog for a while about our lives out here, more than one year on after the move from the inner city (and a life we loved) to the fringes of Melbourne, in the bush. I knew that life out here would offer something we couldn't get in the city, but largely I saw the benefits as being for the children - that they would be able to live with a freedom and wildness they wouldn't get in a small terrace house in the inner suburbs. The simple fact is - we're all happier than we ever thought we would be. I am often overwhelmed by love for this place, and though I miss the city, and though going into North Fitzroy (which broke up with us years ago) makes my heart crack all over again, every time I drive home, once I can see mountains and horses and paddocks and large tract of bush, my heart starts to sing again. I love it here, I really really do. Which Martin and I talked about as we ate our spaghetti last night, outside, under the gentle summer evening sky, overlooking our hard work - the clothesline Martin made (above), the rumpled dirt under the paperbark tree where agapanthus used to be, the veggie garden, the bank we shored up where the succulents are taking hold and sending out new green shoots, and before we went inside, we visited the fairy garden and admired the pink and silver and green.

By the way, the pesto was the best I've ever had. And for dessert? Raspberries of course.