It is good to be home, although my psyche is adjusting somewhat. I'm not sleeping well - awaking to dogs barking down the road and the banging of workers on the trainline (why do they do works at night?) and other noises that normally don't wake me. It's like I'm waking wih a shock, wondering where I am.
The birds remind me where I am. On the first morning out, standing on the kerbside in Footscray waiting for my son to pick us up, I heard a maggie warble at the dawn. It felt like a homesong and I cried with that emotional part of myself that feels things so keenly. It would be better to be detached, but I've always found that difficult. The New England honey eaters nuzzle into the banksia, yellow candles of light in the winter. Unlike England, there is much colour in this southern part of Australia. The yellow flashes of their wings are cheery. I've missed them, and the magpies that hang playfully off the gums, fooling around.
The banksia I planted last year - the orange one below - only showed one flower the first season, but this season there's about six spectacular cones - enough to bring one or two inside for cut flowers. And the smaller varieties, the groundcover banksia (a variety called Birthday Candles) is cheerfully out too. How I've missed the strange beauty of Australian natives.
It's been very frosty the last few mornings. Our house lacks double glazing, so it's very cold inside as well as out. I get up anyway, leaving the warmth of the bed, to walk around like a fool in the frost, in the magical wonderland of white. The calendula that greeted me so sunnily don't fail in the frost at all - they simply look more magical. They won't ever die, it seems - only in the heat of summer. I'm drinking a lot of calendula and lemon verbena tea, constantly harvesting and drying them. I got home just in time to harvest the lemon verbena before it lost it's leaves.
Although the horseradish didn't survive the housesitters or the bugs, the white sage is thriving. I'm thrilled to have this magical cousin of the garden variety gracing the garden with silvery beauty. It nestles in between the lavender, which is in full flower too.
Everything bows under the frost, even the heavy artichoke leaves. Again, they'll bounce back in the sunshine by lunchtime - anything truly frost intolerant has died off or been snipped at the base for the compost - tomatoes, eggplants and pumpkins are long gone, as are the zucchini. Sadly the housesitters didn't plant the things I would have planted a month ago - lettuce, kale, cabbage - but they'll grow soon enough.
The broad beans have self seeded this year and I let them go for the crop but also to keep the soil fed. I pull the ones from the garlic patch. Left untended, I'm not sure I'll have the big crop I usually get, but since my garlic is spread out with friends all over the shire, I'm sure I can get more seed crop for next year's planting.
A friend flies over with his plane and gets a shot of my house from above. It's nice to get the confirmation of what I see on the ground - the once bare block is becoming a bush block.
I've weeded and weeded and weeded, putting the weeds in the vegetable patch under a sheet of black plastic to rot down and stay local. I've sourced some horse manure to add to the compost, trying to get as much created now so come mid Spring I can be laying it down where I need it. I've collected all the fennel seeds from the self seeded fennel and the garlic chives, and cooed over the bounty of lemon and limes that are doing so well. Fresh lime and lemon in winter is a blessing.
There's so much to do here, and I'm glad I'm home at this time of the year. So many projects are best done at this time of the year, when the weather is cool, ready for the Spring. I'm debating the worth of a polytunnel, and wondering whether I shouldn't just wait for a cheap second hand greenhouse to come up on online marketplaces or word of mouth. I'm listening to podcasts about regeneration of land, mycellium in the soils, stacking functions. My nails are constantly dirty again, the soil biome mixing with my own.
Yes, I'm glad I'm home.