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Back from the Crisis

Covid-19 was one crisis. Then I was placed on a work project which saw me working fifteen hour days for four weeks. Meanwhile a nasty dispute related to a supermarket development next door in Uralla keeps bobbing to the surface needing our attention.

I am not sure if I have my head above water yet, but things are certainly better than they were ten days ago (for now at least).

Since my last post back before my world began spinning out of control, I’ve had three attempts to grow broccoli – once from seed in trays that in my enthusiasm I planted too early and their delicate little stems dead by the time the Brisbane afternoon sun hit, once by planting out seed in situ in protected hothouse style structures I fashioned from the fruit delivery boxes and plastic bags, and finally hitting the jackpot with some ‘hothoused’ seedtray plants ignored for a couple of weeks and only planted when the heat had come off the days and they were large enough to survive.

Having faced multiple failures, I call Grandma. All of my woes amass in the tale of my numerous flailing broccoli experiments.

“I love broccoli,” Grandma tells me, “but I never grow it.”

And that says it all. If Grandma, who can grow anything, won’t grow it, it can’t be worth the effort and the space. But the crop is semi-established now and so I will persist.

Grandma, who turned 99 on Friday, is now in an aged home since mid-last year. She is virtually blind, but happy to be in lockdown. I decide that she’ll get lots of calls for her birthday, so I call her in the days leading “while she is still young.” She listens intently to the tales of my beans, my big tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes that are growing out of a rock against the fence, and it’s as though she can almost smell the dirt.

On Friday, we dash to Uralla for meetings about the supermarket. We meet separately and at a safe distance with two elderly retired architects, incredible for their knowledge, their passion and their ability to interpret a plan. We catch up with the other historic bank owners who show us their new wall and tell us about their visit by the water diviner. A retired sea captain takes us through his new renovation and we are in awe of the craftsmanship and detail by his own hand. We talk the pros and cons of recycled water with his wife, a recently retired CSIRO scientist, but I resist the urine and compost conversation. We admire their cardoons (a Scottish vegetable something between a thistle and an artichoke).

Back at the bank, we hug the beautiful pines and the redwood in the garden, taking the measurement of the girth of these 50 year old trees, we know that at least five a seriously at risk.

In Brisbane, I take a few deep breaths. I enjoy the third picking of beans, my first decent sized tomato and a handful of mulberries that the possums have not found.

Things are tough right now. But we take things slowly. We listen to wisdom, and now and then there is a small success which keeps us on track.

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