Sunday, 15 April 2018

#4 gardening and hanging

This post is part of a series where I'm recording the appreciative thoughts and emotions associated with various spaces in our house. For context, read my post Thinking about houses.

I'm writing this on a beautifully wild autumn day. successive cold fronts batter the weather boards with rain and wind. But only last weekend we felt like we were in an endless summer. When you live in this part of the world, the seasons are overwhelmingly formative in our lifestyles. And for those of us lucky enough to have some outdoors around our homes, our little plots of ground provide a meaningful connection with the changing environment. 

Our little yard is fabulously regenerative. 


The north facing deck invites the sun for most of the day. Afternoon snoozes in the hammock are almost ritual. We bought the hammock from a camping store in Mount Beauty a long time before we moved in. The hammock in the backyard in Brunswick had been an iconic feature for our family and we knew we'd have to find a place for one in our new house, even before we had an idea of where it would go. It was one of those 'meant to be' moments after we moved in and found the hooks already there! The grape vine above it is perfect. Its bare branches in the winter maximise sun. I lay in it back in spring and felt deep happiness at the sight of budding leaves which amazingly quickly transform into a sun protecting canopy over summer. You can tell by the photo that the cycle continues as the leaves brown and wither for autumn.

In the corner of the deck is a bush stool. (splayed legs) Rachel has spent a lot of time at Mittagundi. This stool came back from there after their 2017 festival. It's rugged beauty is in contract to the other outdoor furniture in the yard by S2dio which we found in a local outdoor furniture store. The teak arm chairs offer a robust but comfortable sitting option looking out on the garden. A beverage in the late afternoon sun is sweet as. But the full setting comes into its own on a sunny lunchtime when we are drawn outside to feast on fresh bread, tomatoes and basil from the garden. Sometimes we roast capsicums and mix it with parsley and garlic or if we're lazy we grab a tub or two of dip from the fridge. Whatever, or whenever, I love this spot. 



I love and hate the regular ritual of oiling decks and outdoor furniture. It's not my favourite annual ritual, but I do like the resilience payback. Adjacent to the table is the mandatory bbq. It's kind of primal isn't it, cooking and eating outside? Without that capacity it wouldn't feel like a proper yard! Against the fence are pots of herbs. It is one of our regular joys to be pottering over dinner and saying: 'Hmm, maybe some thyme might be good', and wandering outside to grab some sprigs.




The portable outdoor fire pit was a recent birthday gift. The place we rented around the corner had a great little corner just made for it. Haven't lit it here yet, but its time will come! See the chopping block in front of the woodpile - I've had it for more than 25 years. When we moved into our house in Brunswick I took a trailer out to my friend Doug's place in Ringwood to get a load of firewood. There were a couple of decent size logs I left unsplit and used them as a chopping block over the years. This one is nearly unusable now and I will be sad when it finally succumbs to the pounding of the splitter axe. It has had a very long and useful innings.


The red wheel barrow is from my dad. When he downsized to his unit near where mum is in care, he offloaded most of his stuff. It has the marks of his handyman ways with a piece of ply wood strengthening the base. A wheelbarrow is one of those things that we don't use much, but when you need one its good have it. It reminds me of my dad and it seems to 'belong' leaning against the fence behind the garden. Eventually we'll have fruit trees and other greenery along the fence, but for now its a clear pallet for Maria's gardening imagination.


That this is a regenerative space doesn't mean it's all sitting, eating, and snoozing. The garden beds are life giving. Maria is an active member of the community garden. Apart from the friendships, she loves the therapy of digging around in the dirt and cultivating food. At home here we have some great little plots too. We converted a sandpit and a pebble garden into food producing gardens to add to the two main boxes that stretch across the yard. It feels both right and good to grow at least some of our own food.

There are five raspberry plants along the eastern fence. Zac, Heidi, Rachel, Johanna and planted one each for Maria's 50th birthday. Eating fruit is one of Maria's favourite individual and family things to do, so we anticipate many summers of raspberry picking and consuming in celebration of this wonderful person for whom this little courtyard is a special oasis. For a small space it has qualities that welcome slow living, a place where being is more valued than doing. 

Whether it is a hail ridden winter Saturday or a Friday sunny lunch, it is also the space that connects us with the world outside. It is a buffer to the movement on and across the road in the village park. I often find myself standing at the doors peering out: still but involuntarily reflective.






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