Sunday, 8 June 2008

Changing patterns

by M in JaM
We gave up trying to grow veggies some years ago when critters kept eating everything just before it was ready to harvest. This year a volunteer tomato plant in the abandoned garden provided a dozen tomatoes with real flavour. After some time the possum also acquired a taste for them and ate the last two ripening on the vine. Now we have risked planting a few tomato seedlings protected by a chicken wire cage. So far, so good.

A half dozen hanging baskets near a sunny north wall of our house contain three varieties of lettuce, secure from rabbits and roos. Insects prefer one variety. From the others we harvest a few leaves at a time and add them to our daily salad.

Little by little, I've been tidying up the old garden, rescuing old pots buried under weeds. I work cautiously, aware of the possibility of snakes and spiders. I raked away some dead grass and leaves and uncovered the end of a small sheet of canvacon (sturdy plastic). Using the rake to lift a corner, I disturbed a giant centipede. (They get up to 13 cm or 6 inches long.) I decided to call it quits for the day. No one wants to find a new home in the middle of winter. Not even a centipede. And I certainly don't want a disturbed centipede moving into my nearby laundry.
I shall leave the garden as is, except for tending tomatoes and burying compost. I shall move on to the yearly task of mowing and raking a fire break, little by little, with my husband's help. Age requires adjustments in patterns of personal energy use. Pain reminds me when I over-do. I'm still learning how things can get accomplished, little by little. Fire Season lies ahead.

Yes, we're into the Dry Season. The billabong in Moon Creek dried up this week. It doesn't flow year round. During the Wet Season, it provides a home to various batches of tadpoles and crabs. Once we squatted down to look for crabs and got surprised by a snake lifting its head out of the water. Snake ducked back underwater and we jumped back from billabong.

We disturbed eight red-tailed black cockatoos during our afternoon walk yesterday. These magnificent birds mate for life and can live up to 100 years. We don't see them year round. Usually they herald the beginning of the storms and the Wet Season. This morning they were feeding in the back paddock. On two separate days we saw them eating seeds from a specific kind of small tree/large shrub (sorry, I don't know the name of the little tree). We've never seen them eat those seeds and we've never seen black cockatoos perch so near the ground. Usually they sit high in bloodwood gums and eat eucalypt seeds. But it's too late in the year for the bloodwood seed harvest. Does this change in behaviour signify something?

photos by J in JaM

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