Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This Time Last Year

Here are some photos from a year ago, of a dinner our friends Annie and Janet made for us on the bridge at Onemilebridge:

Last Thursday twelve months ago was our last day in our Tasmanian house. We spent the day cleaning as the movers hauled our numbered and catalogued boxes into their truck.

Farmdoc concentrated on the shed while inside the house I moved from room to room, cupboard to cupboard, scrubbing, wiping, dusting. A friend came by to collect one last load for the tip and a few cast offs to distribute. Late in the afternoon the new owners arrived for a last minute inspection and to ask a few questions. The real estate agent who'd brokered the sale came too, bearing a gift. I barely lifted my head from my cleaning.

I can still feel the current of tension that seethed through my body. I was determined to leave the house as clean as possible for its new occupants. I wanted this young couple to have an easy start in their new home.

I think I was also hiding in those cupboards and drawers from the magnitude of the change.

We were leaving a house, a dog, a property, a village and friends. A life we'd built up over a lot of years.

Our decade at Onemilebridge had been important to us in many ways. And now it was over.

That afternoon, after we'd left the house as clean as we could, we drove the long way around to our next-door neighbour's house. For years we'd walked and driven through our sycamore forest or across the paddock to her place, arriving for dinner on our ATV or in gumboots. Now those paddocks and that forest didn't belong to us any more so we arrived as all her visitors did, driving up her front driveway.

We slept that night at her house and spent our last day in Tasmania gazing across at our farm, knowing that those familiar paddocks belonged to someone else now; doing some last minute chores, and having lunch with another friend.

That evening I flew to Melbourne while Farmdoc took the ferry across. Unexpectedly, our friends James and Iris saw us off, so that their dear faces were our last sight of Tasmania.

The morning of the 17th of March, a year ago yesterday, Farmdoc and I drove up the driveway of Daylesford Organics, the farm belonging to our oldest daughter and her family, in time for a welcome breakfast of pancakes and coffee. It was the beginning of the next stage in our lives.

I can feel now all the emotions that belong to that period - sadness, anxiety, fear, excitement - but I couldn't feel them then. I was numb. I think I stayed numb for months while we sorted our belongings and set ourselves up in our rented cottage.

Then, as we began the process of building a new house and a new life in a new community, without my even noticing it I started to thaw out. But that's a story for another time.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vale Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger has died. He was 94, a great age in anyone's language, but I am so sad.

Today I am listening to that oh so familiar voice singing 'To everything there is a season...a time to be born and a time to die...' Of course I know that, but my foolish aching heart doesn't know it, so I listen and I cry into the lemon meringue icing I am making, and I think back to the first time I heard him sing.

I was thirteen and my aunt and uncle had taken me to see him perform at the Melbourne Town Hall. I fell in love immediately. With that voice, the tuneful alto soaring above the crowd as he cajoled a stuffy Melbourne audience, many of the men in suits and ties, to lose their inhibitions and to sing with him. With the sound of his 12-string guitar and banjo. With his genuineness. With his belief in the innate goodness of people, that we really could overcome.

I was hooked.

Every time I saved enough money for a record I'd tram into the city and think, 'this time I'll get something different'. But each time I'd put on the headphones in the booth and hear Pete's voice and succumb, adding another Pete Seeger LP to my collection.

But Pete returned the favour. He introduced me to other musicians: The Weavers of course, Woody Guthrie, and on and on down to the line, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen.

Pete Seeger kept me company through my awkward teen years. I'd shut myself up in my room, listen to his songs and feel less lonely, see that there were people out there who were good and decent and passionate about the planet and its inhabitants, that there was in fact a bigger world outside the confines of my suburban life.

There was even more to Pete than this, but I didn't know any of it then. That he built his own house, a log cabin, from instructions he found in the public library. His bravery in the face of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, preferring the risk of jail to naming names.

'A time to dance and a time to mourn.' For me now it's a time to mourn. And a time for giving thanks. Thank you so much, Pete. For everything.