Last night I drove down to our holiday house for the Labor Day Long Weekend. We arrived in a rain storm that was relief from the warm humidity of the preceding day. The streets around our place had been flooded slightly with the downpour although the rain had eased as we approached our seaside neighbourhood. In the headlights of the car I saw little frogs leaping in tens across the road – tiny little frogs no more than 2-3cm in length. They were recognisable as little frogs because of the way they leapt. It was too late for me to slow down. I just prayed I hadn’t run any over.  I alerted Emma and Sally to the strange phenomenon. They were sitting in the car listening to music from their ipods. They pulled off their headphones and stared out of the window hoping to see what I had seen. They had missed the frog-crossing enmasse, but as we rounded another corner a solitary frog hopped into the beam of my headlights. Emma saw it and I slowed. Sally didn’t see it straight away but I slowed to stopping so we could point it out. She wanted to get out of the car for a closer look and I encouraged her to do so. She laughed as she tried to catch it and it hopped randomly to avoid her. Eventually she succeeded. She held it for a short time before releasing it to continue its journey. We spotted another solitary frog just before we crossed into our drive way. It seems that the rain had brought them all out. More frogs than I had ever seen were all out looking for a mate or a place to lay their eggs now that conditions were right. Today I drove back to where I’d seen them. I couldn’t see any signs of flattened frogs on the road and I breathed a sigh of relief.

It lives

November 29, 2009

Spring is magical time of year. Trees that have looked dead for months suddenly sprout life. Little green buds fill me with wonder. This spring in Melbourne has been our greenest for many years. Our drought has been momentarily eased by heavy rains, filling our water tanks and prompting our government to announce there won’t be a tightening of water restrictions. Along with the rain we have been excited by electrical storms. I opened our bifold doors on friday and was scared to stand too close to the opening. Counting the seconds between flashes of lightening and cracks of thunder, the closest delay was two seconds!

Last weekend our primary school twilight fair was washed out. Sally came home with a hat she’d won at one of the stalls. She really thought it was the ticket.

Yes, well… that’s what happens when you haven’t seen rain the likes of this for years. Every one gets excited and a little nutty.

Our garden, planted a year ago, is thriving. The buffalo grass is spongy and thick. Our fruit trees, although little, have had buds which are now small fruit. There are already ten little almonds snugly enfolded in fluffy green coats on the baby almond tree.

We lost our walnut tree last year when chlorinated water from the pool leaked from a faulty pipe and killed it. We planted another this winter, replacing spoilt soil before leaving a hole for the bare-rooted, tall stick it was. We have waited since the start of spring for it to come to life. It remained a lifeless stick. We gave up hope.

Then quite recently a miracle happened. Long after the other fruit trees had blossomed a little green bud appeared in one of the uppermost nodes. Our family gathered and stood silently in awe for a couple of seconds. The stick was alive! One day it will be a real walnut tree.

We need her

October 8, 2008

One of my friends, with whom I was closest to after the birth of my first two daughters, use to joke about our crazy lives. Plunging head first into motherhood for the first and the second times is probably the biggest challenge anyone could face. (Having more children is a pinch after that adjustment). Her favorite thing to say (and I remember the setting: it would often be when we were dressing children after having taken them for a swim at the local pool. The little children would be hungry, tired. You’d try to strap one into the pram with food before dressing the second one. You’d feel like you were in a worm canning factory) was,

“My life is a mess! My children are maniacs!”. She’d then laugh as she did an impersonation of a person nolonger able to speak. 

This morning when I read about Jane Goodall’s visit to Melbourne:Heed wake-up call for world: Jane Goodall has a simple label for the state of the Earth, a mess” my train of thought touched down upon my friend’s rant, “my life is a mess”.

Jane Goodall says the world is a mess! My life is a mess! (It is). 

That’s why I need Jane Goodall.

She has come to Melbourne, with a purpose. She visited our wonderful gorilla enclosure at the Melbourne Zoo to raise awareness that recycling mobile phones could save gorilla habitat in the Congo. A metal used in their construction is mined there. 

And that’s why we need Jane Goodall.

It seems simple. But it takes someone like Jane Goodall, who can think across economic, cultural and political divides, and the mess of daily life to make these connections. And suggest solutions. Little by little we might be able to unravel the mess.

Fruits of our labour

July 22, 2008

We have moved house. For eighteen months we have been building an environmentally friendly home. It has two twenty thousand litre water tanks buried underground (in Australia we are in drought). We have enough solar panels to be either electrically neutral or contribute to the grid. Our house design was audited by Going Solar before construction to ensure we had incorporated energy saving technology and know-how. We have LED down lights and other energy saving globes throughout and the house design is solar passive. In other words we have double glazed windows everywhere, and the house is orientated to the north with large eaves to allow winter sun in to warm our travertine-covered concrete slab but to block out the sun’s direct rays in summer.

But the thing I’m appreciating most is the new kitchen. My daughters love it too, all four of them. The most dramatic appreciation has been shown by Emma. She has developed an interest in cooking since we have moved. She has been riding her bike down to the shops to pick up packet cake mixes. She whips these up independently or with her friends. Twice she has made biscuits by herself from scratch (asking for help at strategic moments only). Its only a matter of time before she’ll be able to make family meals. I have a plan to teach her something simple (like tacos) to begin with. I think its worth harnessing this newly developed enjoyment of working in the kitchen. The best bit about it is: the kitchen is big enough for both of us to be working at the same time, with enough room for Sally to be doing her homework on the bench!