Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Outside, Looking In

The internet is disconnected and a gentle rain falls outside my office window, the type of kindly rain that soaks into the ground and reaches the roots of thirsty plants. There’s no computer screen blinking light in my face, the phone is silent and Maggie is curled up outside the office on a heated blanket (our domesticated dingo likes her creature comforts).

I slide open a window and watch the rain dripping from the leaves of the lemon tree. A spider’s web stretched between two leaves takes a direct hit from a fat droplet; the web wobbles, holds firm then settles. The spider is nowhere to be seen. It’s probably sheltering under a leaf somewhere, taking advantage of the leaf curl I failed to treat last summer. The damage may look unsightly but garden experts claim it won’t harm the fruit…and it gives a small spider somewhere safe to live.

SONY DSC

From here in my studio I can see that the David Austin rose has reached the top of the kitchen window. In months to come its intended path along the top will mean a glimpse of pale pink roses while I’m doing the washing up. I’ll crack the window to smell the fragrance, breathe in the remembrance of gardens in Broken Hill and England.

But that’s in the future, months away yet. Even further ahead is the prospect of leaving Sydney and finding a place in the country to plant vegetables and grow fruit trees. For now, I sit watching the rain.

Looking back on the photograph I took of the lemon tree, I realise my attention was focussed on that tiny spider’s web, and I failed to notice the light shining through the kitchen doorway. How warm and inviting it looks from my voluntary exile in the studio. I could walk across the rain-soaked patio, open the door and feel the warmth coming from the oven, where the long, slow cooking of osso bucco is underway. As a vegetarian I wouldn’t know osso bucco from a t-bone steak but the slab of meat was on offer for $3, so I bought it, little realising it would need three hours of cooking. No matter, the internet is down; there’s time and space to enjoy the process.

SONY DSC

I sit here feeling alarmed at the prospect of a three-storey house being built next to my studio, upset by the idea of excavators carving out an underground car park from the sandstone bedrock, but that’s Sydney for you. What little sunlight the citrus tree already struggles to find will no doubt be further compromised as a new house rises out of the rubble.

There I go again, fast-forwarding into the future when council hasn’t even approved the plans, when there’s osso bucco slowly cooking in the oven and rain dripping from the leaves of the lemon tree.

Here I sit on the outside, looking in.

It’s a feeling I remember well from years of not belonging, of failing to find a partner or start a family. The most I ever managed was a garden. It’s far too late for children now but I still occasionally fill with wonder and bewilderment at the blessing I received when I found a partner, an unexpected gift when I’d given up looking.

Now, when I’m on the outside looking in I can open the door and walk through it, to be enveloped by warmth and a sense of welcome.

A blessing indeed.

 

 

 

15 comments on “Outside, Looking In

  1. monsoonwendy
    July 25, 2014

    May your day be full of such blessings Deb. Reading this post was a blessing for me. This morning I thought of you on my run. I ran to the sculptures (bugger of a hill!) and reached the top as the sun was rising. I sat leaning back against Bajo El Sol Jaguare (the one with the hole in it) and felt blessed by the sun as it rose over our plains. A gentle light. And there must have been at least 30 euros and kangaroos. Magical.

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      July 26, 2014

      When I read this wonderful description I was right there with you Wendy. Thank you for such a vivid reminder of Broken Hill.

      Like

  2. bkpyett
    July 25, 2014

    Your gentle story left me feeling warm and cosy. It is good to count one’s blessings! I didn’t find my partner until I’d given up trying too, and it’s such a delight now to be able to share his company. I do hope the dwelling next door doesn’t take away all of your light.

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      July 26, 2014

      Lovely to hear from you Barbara, especially when I read how similar our experiences have been. And you’re right, there is a true delight to be had in sharing someone’s company.

      Like

  3. Jane @ Shady Baker
    July 25, 2014

    Beautiful words Deb. I hope someone enjoyed that osso bucco, assuming you didn’t eat it? Have a lovely weekend.

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      July 26, 2014

      Thank you Jane. The osso bucco was a hit and I savoured a slice of bread dipped in the sauce. The sky didn’t fall in but I know that would be heresy to some vegetarians! You have a lovely weekend too.

      Like

  4. The Novice Gardener
    July 25, 2014

    Sounds like you had a nice day to reflect on and count your blessings. I should do the same. It’s good to stop and smell the roses every now and then. I hope that building next door doesn’t get approved, or at least if it does, it won’t shade your citrus tree completely. XO

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      July 26, 2014

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, I’m plotting and planning what to do when the building finally goes ahead, and in the meantime enjoying what I’ve got 🙂

      Like

  5. candidkay
    July 25, 2014

    Beautifully put. I think so many creative types feel this way. Have you read Quiet? A really good treatise on what it’s like to need to refill your tanks as an introvert . . .

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      July 26, 2014

      Thanks Kay, I took enormous (and quiet) pleasure in Susan Cain’s book, a wonderful validation for anyone who feels the world of extroverts is too noisy for them!

      Like

  6. redhairedgal
    July 25, 2014

    It seems we have very similar lives; like you, I found my partner later in life and despite not having any kids of our own, we do cherish our far-away nieces & nephews as well as our own two cats (born to a feral mom under our front porch). We’ve been looking for just the right house and yard, and all the while, I’m constantly wondering what I’ll do if the neighbors build up and block my light & breeze … so we keep looking for the biggest parcel we can possibly afford. I need room to dig in the dirt, grow a garden and live in peace & quiet. It’s a tall order and I’ve been a bit discouraged lately, but your post has reminded me that I’m not alone and I need to be patient and thankful. Take care and thank you for such a beautiful essay.

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      July 26, 2014

      Hello Red Haired Gal and how similar our lives have been. I had two cats for many years, and I have distant nieces and nephews who are precious to me. Like you I dream of a block of land somewhere, and when I worry I’ll be too old when I find it I’m inspired by memories of my friend Jane, who created paradise from an empty plot of land in France when she was in her late sixties and severely disabled from polio. She used to tie herself into her wheelchair to dig the ground. So take heart, hold fast to your dreams and you will make them happen one day.

      Like

  7. nantubre
    July 25, 2014

    Beautifully said. You know, growing a garden, or in some cases TRYING to grow a garden, is a learning experience almost as much as raising a family. And, depending on who you ask, perhaps much more rewarding! Ok, yes, maybe I’m joking. but think about it. Life growing from ashes. It’s a beautiful thing.

    Like

    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      July 26, 2014

      Hello Nan and thank you for those wise (and funny!) words. Life is indeed a beautiful gift 🙂

      Like

  8. sevenroses
    February 19, 2016

    enchanted

    Like

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This entry was posted on July 25, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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