Story telling from Australia
We were in Broken Hill last weekend to launch Love in the Outback (I promise to upload pictures soon). It was a final, emotional goodbye to the town I called home and the friends I cherished for almost four years. If I felt sad, imagine how CC felt? He’d lived there for thirty-nine years.
CC’s been back a few times since we left last October, but he’s no gardener.
The vegetable patch was a disheartening sight. I’d clearly missed a few seed heads in clearing up the cheap mulch I’d spread (if anyone sees that man from Menindee give him a kick from me) and a flourishing crop of something – oats? barley? wheat? – was choking what remained of the strawberry patch. The broccoli must have gone to seed months ago and there was no sign of any eggplant.
A neglected vegetable patch looks wretched I think, far worse than any bare patch of scrub. It’s stark evidence of a failed attempt at productivity – food left to wither and die. I’d rather see nature take over completely than be forced to look at the sad remains of what might have been.
But down on my hands and knees I found a small charentais melon. Parting the weeds I discovered capsicum and then, the greatest surprise of all, strawberries; fat, ripe, luscious berries, sweetened by a cold snap and nestled under the weeds.
I looked again. There were grapefruit ripening, lemons clustered so thickly they bent the branches of the tree and the roses were still blooming. Yes, with winter fast approaching they need pruning, and so do the stone fruits and the grape vine should be cut hard back too…but it’s all still there.
Someone with energy and enthusiasm could uncover the thyme, the sage and rosemary; they could clip back the vines, prune the trees and enjoy the kind of bumper harvest we once enjoyed.
The simple discovery of a handful of sweet strawberries, on a day when temperatures in Broken Hill struggled to reach double digits, gave me hope. We ate them as we drove out of town.
Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll be back.
I hope so.