Friday, August 31, 2018

on wednesday

On Wednesday we woke up a little bit earlier than usual to drive the girls to school for an early class. The morning was the coldest and frostiest of the year so far and driving across the mountains and through the forest the views were spectacular. Paddocks covered in blankets of shimmering white crystals, lazy plumes of smoke traveling up from chimneys and then across the road for us to drive under, baby animals cuddled up close to their mothers, and trees full of golden yellow wattle positively glowing in the brilliant winter sunshine.

On the way there Indi played us 40 minutes of Taylor Swift songs taking us all the way back to when our girls were little through to her latest stuff now. We sang along to almost every word.

When I got home my farmer boy was busy fixing a series of taps that had cracked in the frost. We walked together to the top of our hill to check our header tank and to collect some kindling for the fire. Small pockets of sunshine were just reaching through the trees and I lay down on the ground in one. It felt so good to feel the forest floor below me and the sunshine and warmth on my skin from above. After a little while Bren came over and lay down beside me. We held hands as the sunshine bathed our faces and filled our hearts with a little tingly taste of springtime.

We came back down the hill to Pepper and her two friends, full of plans for ways to spend their day off from school. Lately they've been learning about the Australian gold rush era and they were pretty keen to explore some of the sites near our farm.

They began by making a picnic lunch and packing it into their backpacks. Toasted cheese roll ups, carrots from the garden, crackers with feta, a thermos of chai tea and some sweet biscuits.

While they waited for us to get ready Pepper showed them an old campsite complete with bits of old glass and china and a site covered with daffodils that we think might once have housed a dwelling.

We met them outside and headed up over the hill to visit and admire Indi's latest paste up on the water tank and then we stepped over the fence and were on our way. And as we walked they told stories, sang snippets of songs, made footprints in mud, wondered about other tracks and swapped backpacks often. We tried to walk behind them to let them have their own adventures but they were often slow or stopping to investigate something, and we always caught up.

It amazed me that Pepper recognised the place where you have to leave the track and shimmy down a steep hill on your bum even though she hadn't been there for years and it was completely overgrown. We made our way down, grabbing hold of vines and roots for security and eventually made it to the bottom.

Even though we've been visiting this culvert for years, it never ceases to amaze us that it was built in the 1880's just at the back of our farm. The three of them went through squealing with delight and in fright and then Bren and then me. I sang my little heart out and made a mental note to bring the big girls back to try out the great acoustics.

By the time we got to the other side the picnic was well underway. We joined them for a while and then left them to their panning for gold and exploring and went and sat in a sunnier spot on a log nearby. I knitted and Bren carved a stick as we listened to the laughter from up the creek, the birds, Jo-jo the dog frolicking in the long grass and the other sounds of the forest.

Later, on our way home, we discovered some mine shafts that were so deep we had to hold onto the backs of their clothes while they lay on their stomachs to look down. Thrown stones took seconds to hit the bottom. In other areas we founds old bits of cars and discussed why and when they would have been abandoned.

It was probably at about this stage that we decided it was time to head back up the steep hill for home. We wanted to end on a high while this was still an adventure and before they got tired. But they had other plans that took us in the opposite direction following the train line that opened in 1887 and drove from Daylesford to North Creswick and then joined the Ballarat line. Apparently that part of the line cost 97,000 pounds to build and the first train that traveled it came off the tracks. (Thanks researcher Bren x).

When we first moved here there was a bridge that crossed the railway line which we drove over a few times just for fun. That bridge was burnt in the Muskvale bushfire in February 2009, just before I started writing this blog.

To get back to our farm from where we were we had to walk all the way back around or we could shimmy down the steep bank of the train cutting and somehow get ourselves back up the other side. Of course the vote was the steep down and up so we each found a spot where we thought the vegetation was thinnest and the least prickly and slid down. Pepper tore a big hole in her leggings but other than that we reached the bottom safely and happily. For a while we walked along the overgrown cutting looking for a place to climb the other side but were eventually caught up in the moment and the beauty of what felt like fairy land. Eventually we found the remains of the burnt out bridge but still no cleared bank. So we had to make do and each scrambled to the top whichever way we could.

Once we were on the other side we could hear Tom our Maremma dog barking so we knew we had to be close to home. After a quick visit to the back paddock to feed him and the chooks and to collect the eggs, we headed for home. 'I just love living on a farm in the forest' we heard Pepper telling her friends and we had to agree and put all those winter doubts we've been sharing to the backs of our minds.

As we got closer to home their steps became slower, they started telling us how tired they were and discussing their newly discovered injuries - a blister, a bite, a scratch. Inside they collapsed to watch a movie while Bren drove off to pick up the big girls and I lit the fire, hung out the laundry and left for the gym in the golden rosy sunset.

I've been struggling with so much in my head lately, so much negativity and doubt, Wednesday felt like a balm for my soul. It was so good to feel immersed in the forest, to escape the chores and be swept along in the moment. It was great to be led by the children, their pace, their decisions, their direction. It was amazing to be bathed in winter sunshine, to be warm enough and bright enough. It was great to spend the day holding hands with my love without distraction or direction. And it felt wonderful to be a completely present parent with nowhere else to be but on their adventure with them.

The other day my mum told me she wondered if I was having such a challenging time lately because I'm on the cusp of change. It reminded me of when our girls were babies and we grew to learn that most growth spurts, physical and developmental, were preceded by some sort of difficult time. Mostly by crying and sickness and tantrums. Often they'd suddenly sit up, or grow a tooth, or say a few words, and we'd reflect on the past few hard days and understand.

These past few weeks have been really difficult for me physically and emotionally. I've often wondered if it was caused by the state of the world, by middle age, by my sleeping issues, by our very emotional three girls, by a still empty studio, by a terribly sore elbow or by a long, cold winter. It never occurred to me that I might just be growing into something new.

Fingers crossed that mum knows best because I'm more than ready to leave this stage behind and fly on to the next. With the first day of spring tomorrow the timing feels perfect.

Enough about me, how have you been anyway?
What did you get up to last Wednesday?
What do you have planned for the weekend?
I hope it's lovely!

See you this time, next week.

Be kind to yourselves and each other.

Love, Kate x


  1. Oh Kate, how delightfully magical those photos look and the words sound.
    I wonder how early you have to leave home for the early class? I love frosty mornings, no matter how cold they are you just know they spell the promise of a truly glorious day. Is there anything better than the first days of spring (or late winter) sunshine to lift the spirits and warm the heart?

    I really hope you are at the turning point and some wonderful change comes for you. Mums know best so I'm sure she is right.
    cheers kate

    1. Thank you so much Kate. That morning we left the house at 7.45 to get to a bus at 8.30 that would get them to school by 9. Much earlier than my usual 9am departure but I was home by 9.15 which gave me so much more time that day. And I love those crisp frosty mornings that are followed by brilliantly sunny days too. Anything but grey and miserable actually. The next week's forecast isn't looking too spring-like but hopefully after that. I hope you are doing well and have a lovely weekend ahead of you honey. xx

  2. Wednesday, babysitting , we survived and so did the grandchildren so i am calling that a win.
    Best wishes for brighter days

  3. What a beautiful adventure surrounded by Nature and the healing forest of trees...what you did by lying down and grounded in a sunbeam was incredibly Therapeutic. May it be continuing Balm for the soul . I always love following your day or week. ...long may you continue to share ❤️
    A quiet day in the garden tomorrow hopefully and then preparing for some incredibly busy few weeks.
    Just now looking out through a dark night sky square of the Kitchen window watching a far away lit up plane passing from somewhere to somewhere else.

  4. Last Wednesday I was not at my best. It had been 4 days since my 18 year old, who is on a gap year volunteering at a camp in Canada, had assured me he would call..... And he hadn't. He has now and of course he's fine and will be home in 2 months. And he will return from late autumn and it will be late spring here in Wellington. And when he left it was the reverse xxxx

  5. Oh Kate, Iv'e been wondering how you are, if it's all been easing. Do you know I think your mum could be right, they can be wise our mums ;-)
    Taking the day off to just be in the bush, following children can be the best decision. We recently did that, played in the bush, in the treehouse, the dry creek, took loads of photos. So glad I did cause 4 days later the lot was wiped out in a fire. Such a precious memory now. It's been a high time of drama and evacuation. but other than most of our property burnt, we and the house are good.
    Hope you're feeling better soon xxx

  6. Just read your blog for the first time. Just lovely to hear from a real voice going through similar things. And have to say I love your instagram filming ... am hooked. From the other side of the world. Facinating you having winter when autumn is creeping in up here

  7. Hi Kat your beautiful day sounds idyllic ... was a treat to meet you at the Words in Winter session at Daylesford. Stay happy :-)

  8. loved reading about your adventure! Made me want to go out and embark on an adventure of my own! :)

  9. Im blaming it on winter, iv had about enough of living in canberra where its freezing in winter and scorching in summer...Adventures through the bush are great though. My dad always knows the best convict bridges and old camp sites to show us.


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Kate XX

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