Story telling from Australia
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.
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.
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.