The Fragment of Dreams is currently undergoing the final grooming and dress fitting for its debut on May 1, (International Workers day, for all my socialist readers,) and I have a new writing work in progress. But itâ€™s a stop start affair at the moment because of another claim on my time â€“ that of keeping Nature at bay where I live. It is this constant claim that Iâ€™d like to thank for turning me to writing. As the saying goes … in life, doors shut and other ones open. I slammed the door on natureâ€™s capricious ways and found something else to do â€“ write.
I live on a very large block of rocky, west facing land immediately adjoining scrubby bushland. We share the land with a large hairy dog and some chooks as well as koalas, possums, lizards, snakes, redbacks, whitetails, scorpions, daddy longlegs galore, foxes, kookaburras, rosellas, magpies, tawny frogmouths and a bunch of dumbass wood pigeons.
And rats. The rats are native and rather sweet looking. What the folks â€˜round here call â€˜fruit ratsâ€™ as opposed to your mega-city, strung- out, wired -up junk food rat. These fruit rats used to live in the roof of our house and at night would twitter and brawl and carry on like a bunch of demented aliens in the vents of a spacecraft. Theyâ€™ve chewed through electrical wires, insulation and wood panelling but a major building project a few years ago saw them migrate to the next door neighbourâ€™s house. Now they are back, but thatâ€™s okay because theyâ€™ve set up house in some shrubby undergrowth. But, if they cross the DMZ and come into the house it wonâ€™t be okay, but why would they? Hey, donâ€™t they have access to some of the finest chook food money can buy, dog bones and all the unripened fruit we never get to see?
The snakes eat the rats, and the occasional fox will eat them as well, but if everyone has their niche and stays put, we can all co-exist here â€“ foxes in the bush, snakes over by the woodshed, rats in the shrubs, chooks in the run and the dog on a frantic and constant patrol against the lot of them.
Itâ€™s more the daily struggle with vegetation that messes with my mind. Weâ€™ve given up on growing fruit and vegetables after ten turbulent, heart- breaking years. The soilâ€™s no good. Gave up watering too when the water restrictions came in, (quavering harmonica music here). If itâ€™s in my yard and it dies then it doesnâ€™t deserve to live here. Thatâ€™s the way I see it anyhow.
All of it, the constant dead leaves from the eucalyptusâ€™ summer shedding, the overwhelming spring growth of weeds brought on by good winter rains â€“ now dried out and a huge fire hazard – the continual assaults from all the feral plants such as olive trees, broom, soursob, wild peas, all of it, I am heartily sick to death of all of it.
Iâ€™d like to thank Nature for turning me to writing in order to get away from the Sisyphean tasks waiting outside and into the soothing quiet of my study where the challenges and torment of writing a novel feel like a pleasant day lolling under a shady tree, sipping cider and having my feet rubbed with gardenia – scented unguents.
And maybe, years of muscle wrenching toil and endless, futile battles with bugs, birds, caterpillars, rats, downy mildew, aphids, rust, ants, puppies, escaped rabbits and children who want to pick flowers for Mummy, have toughened me up for wrestling with povâ€™s, weasel words, character voices, semi colons, disillusion, self doubt and an American spell checker.
I know how it works. I know, as my friend Dan Holloway said in reference to writing, â€˜that every successful person has worked hard, but hard work does not always lead to success.â€™ He could be referring to gardening as well.
- Love Apples
- In the Back Room of the Past