Monday, October 29, 2007

Settling in

Last night we went for a walk in the flora reserve opposite our new house. It's a large tract of bush with a plethora of dainty petalled, wiry stemmed wildflowers. They remind me of Frederique, needing to be simultaneously protected in a safe environment and left alone to grow wild; resilient yet so fragile; unpredictably beautiful. Una is more like the kind of solid plant you can put in anywhere, in any kind of soil and it thrives, with year round flowers. We didn't see any kangaroos (the neighbours swear they do come into the garden) though we did meet a labrador called Sandy who freaked Una out by licking her nose (in the safe harbour of my arms Una told me she was 'a bit scared of the cow'. I guess a labrador is pretty big when you're 2). The track goes down into the bush then through a gully and though we didn't get very far we reminded Fred as we turned back that we had years to explore it. I wish I had photos to share with you but we still haven't unearthed the camera. But I remind myself there's years for photos too. Anyway, as we walked I had this sudden, sharp sensation that I was visiting the territory of Fred and Una's childhood, seeing into the future, as if we might bump into the older them coming the other way (the other time I've had this feeling so strongly is when we've been camping - I think it's easier to see it when you aren't surrounding by the ephemeral objects of the here and now). But I also felt we were walking through past childhoods too, with the high dome of trees overhead there was the feel of a cathedral, some of the quiet haunting of the bush is the everpresence of memories that are not our own but that we share from stepping the same track, the trace of our footsteps inside the trace of theirs, the coinciding of past and present, like ribbons threading from tree to tree.

I am currently at home alone with Una. She is picnicking on the veranda with Feral Baby 2 and Rosie (a large baby doll that often on outings gets mistaken for a real, mistreated baby, slung across the top of the pram). I am trying to piece together my thesis (I *think* I have something that resembles a kind of argument. If an argument can be said to be a wild opinion kind of verified by a certain handling of the facts). We are waiting for Fred and Martin to come home from one of Martin's last days of uni for the year so we can revisit the gully and scramble up one of the inviting hills that Fred wanted desperately to explore last night.

We still have boxes to unpack and a few surprise plumbing issues to sort out but astonishingly quickly we feel at home here. It's foreign and familiar all at once, and there's still so much to discover.


  1. Sounds beautiful Penn. Hey have you burnt any sandalwood yet? Out with the old in with the new and also may help with the catty smells!

    I'm so glad that you're feeling at 'home' so quickly, such a radical change but a successful one. Everything is falling into place. XX

  2. Maybe because in the city things change and get wiped away so quickly sometimes, but in the bush traces (of people, of things, of bits of memory) remain, so you are living in others' childhoods, and future people - future you - will live with your girls' childhood. It sounds like you're giving them such a wonderful life.

    On your thesis - sounds like you've just exactly described an argument!

  3. Anonymous1:04 PM

    Sounds like a lovely place...

  4. Anonymous10:22 PM

    Hurry up and unearth the camera! :P

  5. Anonymous11:19 PM

    oh st andrews! I've been dreaming about living there for ages but have contented myself with eventually building a mud-brick studio in my back yard! Happy housewarming!

  6. You'll have to change your profile from 'stone' to 'mud' :)

  7. Penn, you described how I used to feel as an older child - we would find ourselves down the back in the bush and come across evidence of some other children who played there long ago... it was eerie and comforting at the same time. Almost as if other little people there with us. I used to wonder what clothes they wore and the colour of their hair. What their ponies' names were.

    I'm longing for some photos xxx

  8. Anonymous6:14 PM

    We need a finger update! Is it all ok?

  9. Anonymous12:46 AM

    What a dreamy post, lovely!

  10. Anonymous11:26 PM

    Hey Pen - congratulations on the house, so glad you are all happy there and feel at home. A good sign, yes? So sorry to hear about Una's accident, poor wittle fing.

    When is your next Tassie trip? Would love you to meet Lillian, she's 1 month already. :)

    Love to you, M xx