Wednesday, February 18, 2009

backyard swagging

there’s just something about sleepin’ out, stars being the last thing you see at night. even makes insomnia damn wonderful. love, love, love it. last year we even camped out on our lawn for nearly a month. i want to mention that it was in the winter too, just to score some hardcore cred with anyone who cares.

so last night i had the swag all to myself with my lovely man away on night shift. swags are wonderful for sharing but even better to have that deluxe double swag all to yourself. time to indulge in some sleepin’ out starfish style. oh yeah.

the swag was too enticing to resist last night, just lying out there, airing on the paving after we used it last friday night for some urban camping. our wonderful friends dex and gen of hype and seek had a jam night down at queen street and so that we could indulge without worrying about schlepping it back to the hills we camped out in the swag, lulled to sleep by the gentle railway sounds of night-time croydon. our only wildlife encounter - a friend staggered in late, saw our swag zipped up with mozzie protection in place and assumed we couldn’t see him. antics ensued. he wondered why we weren’t freaking out. we wondered why the hell tommy b was grunting and poking us with a stick. we all drifted off to our respective sleeps thinking the other party strangely hilarious.

confession time. i wasn’t completely alone last night (and i don’t mean those mosquitoes who just can’t do harmonies). my little brown friend luka slept out with me and we both awoke this morning to find that furious, that small furry ball of unresolved anger, had left us a gift. see photo. not sure this won’t get me exiled from the blogdom. not yet well versed on what the policy is on photos of cute dead things.

so the swag will be back to its true calling on thursday. no backyard, no starless urban nightscape. real mccoy camping. the coorong, glenelg river, great ocean road (love that name - so evocative). only four days but no calls to the complaints department from this quarter. should have some photos (hopefully of living wildlife) to show you when we get back.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

cider and sweet nelly bean

the beginnings of cider

the apple season here is in full swing, much to the delight of the parrots and lorikeets. for the past couple of weeks the valley has been echoing with their full-bellied squawkings each dawn and dusk. they are quite equitable though and only eat the sweet, sun-ripened top half of each fruit, leaving the bottom half to fall to the ground and ensuring that the worms and insects have their share.

so before the birds help themselves to the whole harvest it was time to claim some for a brew of cider. last year andrew killed my juicer while making a traditional scrumpy. we had heard that true scrumpy must be made from stolen apples and not long after, very late on a summer night, we turned the last corner before home to find that an apple truck had spilled part of a load of granny smith apples as it barrelled down our twisted road to the market. we scooted home, loaded the car with bins and by moonlight furtively scooped up all of those fallen apples.

the next day i came home from market shopping to find a chagrined andrew and one smoking juicer. he had juiced an industrial load of granny smiths with the lifeblood of one small domestic juicer. it never recovered... r.i.p sweet juicer. however, her life was not sacrificed in vain. after a false start using beer-making yeast rather than champagne yeast (one works on the sugar from fermenting grains the other on the sugar from fruit, d'oh!) we had several dozen bottles of cider. the lessons didn't stop there though. we still had to learn patience. in our eagerness to taste our own cleverness we kept sampling and sampling to see if it was ready. it wasn't. by the time the cider should've been consumable by humans we had drunk it all. fortunately i went through a minor manic phase shortly after and found a lone survivor lurking at the back of the laundry cupboard. of course we couldn't contain ourselves and opened it then and there. deliciousness! apple champagne...mmm. so this year we have all the elements for success as long as we can control ourselves. stay tuned.

this morning we picked apples from all the different varieties on our land, including the scrumptious but now sadly rare rome beauty apples. rome beauties, which are small and sweet table apples, used to be widely available in my grandparents' day but are now considered an heirloom variety. the large supermarket chains demand the large standard (and boring) varities like granny smith, red and golden delicious so growers could no longer sell the apples that they had nurtured on their properties for generations. the old trees were ripped out and new standard ones planted in their place which has resulted in a dying out of all sorts of apple varities and a huge reduction in fruit tree diversity around the world. we are very lucky to have old remnant trees as neighbours and their rarity makes us treat them with great respect.

while up on the hill amongst the apples i visited our old dog nelly bean's resting place. it has a beautiful wide view of the valley and is surrounded by the young eucalypt trees we grew from locally indigenous seed to revegetate the hillside. the photo above is of the slender trunk of a south australian blue gum.

Monday, February 16, 2009

thought salad

hi there,

please bear with me... after several months of frustration i've only just got my laptop accepting the internet and in a moment of complete euphoria i've started a blog without any preparation whatsoever. over the past couple of weeks i've been churning over ideas for blog concepts and i've had trouble narrowing it down, distilling it to one single element that i want to follow. so this blog will undoubtedly become a bit of a thought salad - everything tumbled together hoping that the end product is tasty.

lately i've started taking photos of the tiny details that appear in life everyday which stop you in your tracks, make you pause and breathe them in. sometimes it's these tiny moments that give your life its shape. they can make the day memorable or even bearable. that they are so fleeting and unexpected yet can be so powerful makes these flashing instants fascinating to me so i'm going to have a go at recording some of them... but of course i don't have any downloaded yet!

so i'm just going to see where these moments and the thoughts (and photographs) they provoke lead and i hope you'll enjoy the journey with me.

rachael x