This is home.
Affectionately and somewhat ridiculously called "Widgetopia", it is our little slice of heaven. I have lived here longer than I have lived in any other place in my adult life and I honestly can't see myself moving again, possibly ever...
I remember not too long ago seeing a post on Instagram of somebody's travels with their little family, and how they wished that they could live in a tent, sleep under the stars each night and move as the wind blew them. All I could think was "how lovely, but not for me". Not anymore. I spent my twenties moving around: Wollongong-California-Wollongong-Central America-a brief (and desperately sad) four months in central London-Sydney-Canberra.... I'm exhausted even reading that list now, but goodness I had so. much. fun! And I would not change a moment of it.
But now? I want so badly to let my roots go deep deep deep into this ground and to wear this place like a second skin. I want to know this place. Really truly know it - know how the seasons work on our little part of the planet, know how they are different to my dear friend's place just on the other side of the village. I want to know the folklore and old wives' tales... how the first little red-breasted robin that hops excitedly from lawn to fence to tree in the backyard means that the first snow of the year is on the way (it's true!). How we shouldn't expect spring weather to arrive on our mountainside until the daffodils droop - if they are sunny and bright, keep your coat out. That you shouldn't plant any tomatoes out before Melbourne Cup Day unless you are a real risk taker (or have a greenhouse... one day!). I want to be able to teach my children all sorts of tiny bits of knowledge that will just become a part of who they are, and will be so specific to this place that they will notice the differences when they explore the world. I want to be the little old lady who comments on how the weather has changed over the past 50 years and reminisces about how things were when I was young!
Which leads me to the book that I have just finished reading - Foxeys Hangout by Cathy Gowdie (the lack of apostrophe reallllllly bothers me, but it is what it is).
It is an evocative book about a family who moved from Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula to make wine. They didn't do it on a whim, and they had experience in grape-growing and wine-making so it isn't a stock-standard tree-change story. It's a lovely read, is inspiring for anybody living rurally, and has some delicious recipes (one of which I am very tempted to try out on some friends this weekend... wine-braised leeks with pomegranate molasses anyone??). But more than that, it is about truly knowing a place, deeply and passionately...
"Here in the hills, each small farming property has its own characteristics. Each parcel of land has its own orientation to the sun and the prevailing winds and rain... In spring, every part of the district seems to have its own wildflower. In some areas it's a kind of wild freesia, creamy-coloured, short-stemmed and prolific. The gently scented flowers bunch together prettily in an old-fashioned milk jug. I pull over to pick these freesias by the roadside - they don't grow outside our house and have resisted my surreptitious efforts to harvest and transplant bulbs from the areas where they grow best. Their cousins around the north-eastern boundaries of our property have no discernible scent but are more colourful, their white petals shot with streaks of deep red that fade to pink. Only a few hundred metres to the west, the same flowers are tinted purple instead of red."
Okay, so perhaps it is the talk of freesias that enamours me with this paragraph. Or the covert bulb harvesting (I think almost any flower gardener has been know to sneak around taking cuttings, digging bulbs, pinching seeds!). But really I think what I take from this is how intimately she knows her home. To notice such little differences tells of living in a place and understanding it. You can't read about that in a book, you can't try to make a quick study of it. It requires of you to live in one place for years and years and to spend your time in that place. That is what I want.
So even though I threaten to move to New Zealand every time I hear words come out of our Prime Minister's mouth, I am staying put. I will buy myself a rocking chair from which to loudly and grumpily make my old-lady remarks about politics and the state of this country, but that chair shall rock on the balcony out the back of Widgetopia.