Number Our Days

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The exciting thing about travelling and living in unfamiliar environments is the tendency it has to challenge your thinking and perception of ways of ‘being in the world’. Having to adapt to different ways of doing things, respond to different experiences creates new neural pathways, new ideas, and for me, the building of greater resilience. Being out of my comfort zone impels me to examine what’s really important in my life.

Being aware of the ‘measure of our days’ means we can appreciate every one of them.

Last week I wrote about  my ‘soil sister’ Donna, who lives in the Bega Valley, in south eastern New South Wales, Australia. Her lifestyle is very different from mine largely because of our contrasting environments. Her home is rural while mine is urban. Her garden is vast, while mine is tiny. Maintaining her garden is definitely more physically demanding than my tiny courtyard could ever be.

So visiting her requires an adaptation on my part. Each morning at her place I would awake to a different dawn chorus, different weather patterns, wider horizons. At night the bush can be deafening with the cacophony of insects and frogs and other nocturnal creatures, the night sky a vast star-studded dome unseen in urban areas.

Aching from heavy digging and barrowing the day before, I had to draw on a deep well of resolve to rise up again each new day and get the job done. The spirit was willing but the body less so. I was far more embedded in Nature than is possible at home. Nature was even more embedded in me – beneath my fingernails, on my feet and in my hair!

I delighted in the proximity of Nature. A thrush was raising babies in a pot-stand on the veranda, unconcerned by the human comings and goings.

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The mother thrush on her nest in the pot-stand.

And there were dogs of every shape and size.They’re a vital part of life here. Some are working dogs and some are fond companions.

Snakes go about their business unremarked upon. Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas and various other wild life are evident but not always seen. I won’t even mention the spiders other than to say they were commendably discreet.

Once, I shared a shower with a large tree frog quite unconcerned by my presence, or I by hers. Horses and domestic livestock added to the sounds and smells of farm life and the fecundity of the soil. Then of course, there were the ubiquitous chooks who, along with the vegetable garden, provided my bountiful breakfast each morning.

But living in the country is not all hard work. Every day we shared hilarious moments. One day we created a ‘fertility goddess’ for the vegetable garden. Inspired by her overstuffed shirt we decided she was pregnant rather than overweight and her rather droll, un-scarecrow-like appearance would not serve to frighten anything, especially the cheeky choughs who scratched up the mulch and our newly planted seedlings.

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The fertility goddess

 

I found the experience of sharing a different lifestyle to my own, similar to a framed camera lens effect: firstly for focusing on the numerous ways there are to make a meaningful life; and secondly, for bringing into sharp relief the many things we have to be grateful for.

And I am grateful.

What are you grateful for?

The title of this post, ‘Number Our Days’ is inspired by Barbara Myerhoff’s text of the same name and the significant contribution she made to Social Anthropology by ‘seeing the world through a framed narrow perspective [which] deeply moved her to begin to think about the significance of isolating, attending to, and framing a piece of life.’

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Above left: Millie the poodle having a bath in the river. Above right: My sister working  one of her horses. Below: The rose garden and one of the water tanks so essential in this normally dry area

 

 

 

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24 responses to “Number Our Days

    • Thanks Karolyn. I’m glad those feelings came through. It was a wonderful way to share something special with my sister. Our relationship has come full circle in this phase of our lives when we can just hang out together doing something for which we share a passion.

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  1. Robyn, I have enjoyed your thought provoking blogs and experiencing Donna’s life and garden through your photos. It must have been wonderful to not be rushed and able to immerse yourself in Donna’s rural home. Hope you have come home not too sore from barrowing!

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  2. Amazing that the thrush didn’t mind you going near her nest. I’ve had a series (or dynasty?) of semi-tame blackbirds in my garden, and one year they built a nest in my rosebush. I dutifully avoided looking at it until one day I figured out that the youngster(s) must be about ready to leave so went there with my camera. I got a couple of lovely photos of the youngster, but the next day the nest was empty. Mum and Dad had obviously encouraged her to leave, and she was now lurking in the ivy on the back fence. I felt guilty.

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  3. It looks like a lot of hard work, but fun work. It’s glad that you and your sister were making a reasonable effort, but I have to say that if there were birds scratching up your seedlings, then that scarecrow must have been a bit of a slacker.

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  4. That must have been an enjoyable experience. Gardening puts one so close to the natural cycles, and in the Australian rural environment that must be wonder. And to top it up:a sister and a garden goddess to share it all with. You have a wonderful way of reflecting on what you experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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