Possums and Owls

I’m not good with neighbours. I like space.

So when I downsized  it was imperative to live near some Open land. Which I found. My pocket handkerchief property borders a wildlife corridor, and more importantly due to their declining numbers, a Koala corridor. I have wallabies that visit, blue tongue lizards and water dragons, drongos, scrub turkeys, magpies and kookaburras that drop by for the fresh water that is left out for them.

Swamp Wallaby

I had lived only three kilometres away for over twenty years and it wasn’t until I went for a walk through my back gate that I discovered a nearby platypus sanctuary. I kid you not. Platypus. Long time locals are still unaware of its existence!

And then there are the possums. 

I have always had a soft spot for possums having grown up in a bush setting in a little Sydney suburb since destroyed by progress with its inclination for fountains with urinating cherubs and concrete lions by the front gate. Memories of my mother, who died when I was a kid, include feeding injured possums that escaped the bushfires by braving sharks and swimming across the river to safety. I’ve been putting out spare fruit, vegetables and sandwiches ever since.

It’s Springtime now and the possums are carrying their babies on their backs. I’m continuing to put out feed though not every night as they  mustn’t become dependant. 

But our weather is playing havoc and we are still suffering drought. Three hours away the country towns will be without water for Christmas. An hour west the creeks have turned to mud and people are busy trying to relocate turtles and eels to save their lives.

In my own piece of bushland there is little blossom on the trees thanks to the lack of rain. This means that there are more possums (and flying fox). My local council also carried out a huge chemical spray operation to avoid any legal entanglements once bushfire season started so we lost many of the scrub mammals and lizards that live amongst the undergrowth. (And no, I’m not a mad greenie though question why we are still using pesticides banned in other countries, but I digress……)

When I retired one of the first things I did was sign up to assist a study being undertaken by an academic from the local university into Powerful Owls. All these years and I’ve only ever seen one of these owls once. So why not? I’m surrounded by Bush and enjoy learning from our environment.

Powerful Owls ( minoxidil strenua) are listed on the Nature Conservation Act of Queensland as vulnerable. Ever seen one? They are massive with a three foot wing span and talons. And you know their favourite tucker? 

Possums.

The past few nights I’ve spotted half a dozen Powerful Owls sitting on the back fence awaiting the nightly arrival of possums. It’s their equivalent of a smorgasbord.

Second day of Spring and it’s expected to hit 33degrees Celsius tomorrow.

No need to panic. The neighbours are all out washing their cars on their driveways.

Losing The Plot

I woke up at 9:40 this morning. That’s five hours later than normal. Morning people don’t wake up when it’s nearly lunch time.

Do I feel better for all this extra sleep? Absolutely not! Let’s blame the heat and the Labrador. Mostly the dog. Four weeks of puppy sitting and I’m done.

Firstly, I find myself constantly having conversations with said dog. The weather, what we’ll have for tea, the Dow Jones Index. This would be a concern at the best of times, but Bentley is deaf. We even had a discussion about music from the 70’s recently.

Then this afternoon I found that I shampooed my hair with Organic Hemp Pet Wash from Byron Bay.

I’m now about to sit down with a chardy in front of my latest Netflix binge : Schitts Creek. I’ve made a platter for humans, and a platter for the Lab.

Does this mean it’s time for me to start checking for employment opportunities ?

It’s In The Cards

I was recently gifted a box of Dreamtime Oracle Cards by a friend which are based on the beliefs of our Indiginous people. Stop rolling your eyes – I know what you are thinking……

Oracle Cards have never been my thing though in my last working arena it was a tradition to read the Cards around the table at the annual Christmas luncheon. (Don’t even ask). No Work Christmas function this year so I thought I would continue with this ritual at home. Funny enough the cards have never been wrong. Didn’t I ask you not to roll your eyes?

My card this year was the Campfire Card which explains the importance of fire for both cooking and the sharing of knowledge amongst our ancient people when they gathered around the fire to eat. My own life very much resonates with this as I hail from folk who came together at day’s end and
dined with a glass of wine or a frothy, music playing quietly in the background, making time to share the days events as well as events of the past. They were storytellers and we grew up looking for the fairies at the bottom of the garden and the pot of gold under the rainbow.

I continued this ritual when I had my own family. No morning or evening television at meal times and always, ALWAYS, a clean tablecloth. Actually, no morning TV – EVER. No time nor inclination.

There was always space at the table to share with friends and enough food to go round, and my humanitarian daughter was regularly bringing home young men and women who needed a feed and maybe even some respite. “ Mo, some roast beef and Yorkshire pudding will sort them out”.

Food and Stories have been the constants of my life. The Depression parents instilled in me that it was “ better to pay the butcher than the Doctor”.

I am fortunate in this sphere to be connected to storytellers too, with tales of food, of camerarderie in hard times, of books, movies, gardens, of journeys and all sorts of adventuring. Some of you even share stories within stories for which I am grateful.

My Oracle Card said “ Everyone has something to share, some knowledge that you did not yet know. Knowledge can come from the most unlikely of people and places, so value the sharing of wisdom, whenever you get the chance.”

No resolutions, no goals for the New Year. Never bothered with that stuff. But I’m gonna embrace the advice of the Dreamtime Cards with a firm hand.

Christmas Rituals…..Are Meant To Be Broken

I have been responsible for the Christmas Day cooking since I was 16 years of age. Despite all the time and effort, ( and yes, stress), I’ve always enjoyed the process particularly coming up with a new recipe and something different to add to the menu of Cold Meat and Salads each and every year.

Except for last Christmas. Hottest December 25th on record and both my Smashed Brussel Sprouts With Parmesan and Cous Cous with Bok Choy were an epic fail. As in Epic Fail. I dined on left overs for days.

This year I have retired. Retired on so many levels. No cooking for this little black duck. I’m heading south for a stint in our prime wine producing region with Christmas lunch booked somewhere swish. I might even wear makeup, something I’ve not done for years. Makeup in Brisbane mid summer is redundant as it slides off your face…….

(LIFE LESSON 35. Wearing a white frock mid summer in Brisi and wearing makeup is just asking for trouble. Oh, and do not drink red wine when wearing white either).

Being retired doesn’t mean I’ve slowed down at all. Indeed, these little legs keep moving. It just means my priorities have changed. So much to do, so little time….

I’ve not been to a shopping centre this Festive Centre which has improved any blood pressure issues considerably. I’ve avoided car park rage, school kids on holidays, and curmudgeonly old men who don’t like queuing and aren’t afraid to tell you. Can I tell you how good this all feels ? Any carols that I hear are ones I have chosen to listen too – such as Aussie, Tim Minchin, who makes me smile – and I’ve made Xmas Gifts that are natural and chemical free, including a Make Your Own Lip Balm Kit for those who want Angelina Jolie lips without the collagen. And who doesn’t? Be honest…..

Let’s see what other habits we can break, shall we?

Personal Challenge Accepted.