Gardening for another world

My cousin is one of those people that fall into the category of being beautiful inside and out. She’s like a movie star, looks-wise, like Hollywood old and new; her looks transcend eras. They say physical beauty doesn’t last but when it transcends eras, like Joan’s, that’s quite a long time.

Here is a short description of what she looks like because amazingly, the snap we took of her on the day is terrible.

Joan has thick, raven hair with a few streaks of grey in it now, although no-one is counting. And she has vivid blue-green eyes like her Dad’s, offset by olive skin. I got my my mothers skin, which is Scottish and my grandmother’s hair, which is red. I have blue-grey eyes, like a Viking; they look green if I am lying on the grass. I so don’t look like my cousin. We are both tall though.

And this may sound a bit closeup but my cousin’s bone structure is also flawless, I mean, you can look but I’ve not found any flaws, perfect symmetry. I nearly wrote symphony then and that still would have been right.

Out of the thirty cousins of us, she has taken all the looks. Well, she was given them, it wasn’t her fault.

She also has a beautiful heart. She was given that too.

If I was her, I think I’d be some kind of monster, all those looks. But she’s not interested, I don’t think she even knows. Instead, she’s busy planting jonquils in her uncle’s grave (my father’s) because she passes it on her way to see her father. Her father resides in the same resting place as mine. I say resides but I mean the “residing” mortal coil of yore. Those quotes are mine. They don’t really mean anything.

It’s a big resting place.

Anyway, I think she felt sorry for Dad because his grave looked like a wasteland. There has been so much going on, nobody has been able to do anything about a headstone. So she planted some jonquils. She popped them in the wasteland.

That started the whole thing off.

“Would it be okay to plant some bulbs for your Dad? We did it for my Dad and it looks lovely!” she wrote. “Here are some photos” but all I could see were a few rocks and some gravel.

“Oh my goodness, Dad’s grave …” I thought because we had done nothing. Because at unexpected times, I feel him very close therefore I’m pretty sure he’s not in the ground; I don’t know where he really is, it is not possible to know but what I mean is, when you think you’re sure he’s not in the ground, you can tend to forget that he actually is. By “he” I mean, his “residing mortal coil of yore.” Those quotes again, just ignore them.

You don’t really forget but you also don’t rush. Which meant my Dad had been in an unmarked grave for a while now. Well, ever since he first went. I don’t think he’d mind. I heard it’s normal. But it sounds horrible in print.

Here’s a sort of mitigation list because of the horrible sound of the print above. I am writing it purely out of compulsion.

Firstly, there are things to sort out when someone slips away. I’ve had nothing to do with any of them but other members of my family have.

Including this: on the boardwalk of a beach near my father’s house is a new courtesy chair with a plaque on it dedicated to my Dad. It appeared few weeks ago. It’s the beach where we all grew up, where we all learnt to swim. I even went to school there, at the beach. I don’t know what I did to get so lucky. The view was such a relief in economics lessons.

Also, last month, an obituary to my father appeared in the big newspaper, a full page tribute. Full page apart from a column at the top with “the things that happened on this day” in history, column.

That took our breath away. So did the chair. My Dad would have been so surprised although I don’t know if people in the other world know about things ahead of time. I’m positive he would be very grateful though.

There, that’s the list. It’s a partial one but better than nothing, even though I’m not in it at all.

Through all that, it meant my father was still in a wasteland.

So Pete and I acted, gathering together two buckets of homemade worm compost, two bags of shop bought soil, a car boot full of gardening equipment, lots and lots of Spring bulbs and seeds and my lovely cousin Joan who met us at the resting place. Some of the equipment was useless but we took it anyway, Pete insisted.

And now there is a beautiful Spring garden, all for my father.

There is not that much to see. The bulbs and other flowers are still asleep and will come out in Spring which is pretty close. We just have to get through Autumn first, then winter. Actually, we have to get through summer first and foremost. It’s still right here, hot and sunny, as if it was December. Last week we had about three cool days which turned out to be a trick. But it had everyone pulling woollies out of storage and packing up shorts and t-shirts to throw them to the back of the wardrobe.

Now we are all pulling the t-shirts and shorts out again, feeling like a ship of fools.

Anyway, whenever Spring comes and it could come at any time, it could even be next, my father’s grave will billow forth in a palate of sky blue, cloud white and sun yellow. That is the colour scheme: sky, cumulous cloud, sun.

We packed them in: daffodils, jonquils, hyacinths, ranunculus, anemones, star flowers. In total over seventy flower beginnings. Plus Joan’s original four jonquils.

At some stage in the year’s cycle, it will look glorious. It might even look like heaven on earth.

The only exception to the colour wheel are a few of the hyacinths which are crimson red. Sometimes when you put an extra colour in, a colour not in the colour chart for example, just a flash of it, it can make the other colours look even more so: so more blue, more white, more yellow. Well, that’s the theory. Don’t go by it though, it’s just my theory.

If there are no flowers yet to see there is something to read. Sweeping across the top of the garden is the word “love” written in big, cursive lettering. I wrote it in white gravel I took from our driveway. It’s written large because I always fill the page in my artwork, that’s been the one, consistent comment.

Reading between the lines, it says: someone precious is here, even though there is no headstone yet.

Sheilagh wrote straight away.“Well, we certainly won’t do any tomb-stoning until Spring has sprung!” she said. But I had to look up the word “tombstone” to see if it was awful, I mean gloomy. It’s not, it’s just another word for headstone.

The morning we went down, Pete had bought some passionfruit from the market. He said they were for my Dad.

“How are you going to give them to him?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I just thought he’d like them” said Pete.

“Maybe you can offer them energetically” I said, and held out my arms and hands with nothing in them to demonstrate. “Like this …” It wasn’t very spiritual.

“Maybe.”

I totally forgot about them until we came home. Most of them were still lying in the fruit bowl, waiting for Pete to eat them. He’s a bit like my Dad, he loves passionfruit.

“I gave one to your Dad” he said, splitting another one open to slurp.

“You did?”

“Yes. I put it in the soil.”

“When? When you were planting the bulbs?”

“Yes” he said.

Sometimes you think you know how lovely someone is. Then they go and plant jonquils for someone or do something equally lovely that has nothing to do with you and you just learn about it. Like pass a passionfruit to another world.

Beautiful illustration, Pinterest 

Sleepy

Anna Silivonchik Autumn leaves horse

He is getting sleepy. I wish I didn’t write that.

Maybe he is not too sleepy, maybe he is just sleepy this month, this week.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong” my sister-in-law says. “I think he is just getting tired.”

“Oh” I say because I am kind of not expecting it.

I am not expecting it.

I see him on Sunday at the family gathering. He looks well although his throat is a little sore which is worrying when someone is frail. But he looks the same.

We have been called together for a family portrait, a clan photograph. I am not sure why we are doing it. It has been arranged suddenly and in my mind I am wary.

Everyone is supposed to dress in earthy or neutral colours without patterns because the photographer has said it will look better in the final photo. She sends us some sample photographs to help guide us as well as lots of tips.

“It sounds a bit American” she writes “but it works.”

Later, when I hear her voice, she is American. Probably that’s where she gets the hot tips from.

I study the sample photographs and fall in love with a family dressed entirely in tones of cream, denim and tan. They look very American. “That is the family I want to be” I decide.

I send out emails to try to rouse people into choosing between one and three colours because that is the hot tip. But no-one responds. It is going to be hard to look like the American family.

As much as I admire them – and if they asked me, I would run away with them as long as I could bring Pete (although I don’t know what his act would be) – my fear is that we will end up looking like the cast of Cirque du Soleil.

Actually, I don’t know what my act would be either. I suppose it would either be dancing or singing. Or both.

I send out another email at the last minute and title it “Final time and clothing encouragements for Sunday.” This time I am simply stating what the encouragements are: 12.45 for 1.00 o’clock. Any earthy or neutral colours, including black and white, if you must. Layers, sleeves, dresses to the knees. It comes out like a poem.

That night I have a nightmare that everyone is wearing grey and navy and we look like convicts.

The photographer has counselled us not to stress too much because “families will be families” she writes.

“Yes” I want to write back. “Don’t you hate that?”

My father has excelled the brief and looks lovely dressed in emerald coloured shirt and oatmeal trousers. He has not dressed himself. I realise this because when I arrive, Sheilagh, his wife, is half way through dressing him. He doesn’t dress himself anymore, I realise.

Sheilagh has also excelled the brief and looks glamorous in tones of charcoal, layered with a vintage cream, lace bolero.

I like to think I have also excelled the brief although I try not to compare. But I don’t try hard enough because it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that I am one of the best. I am layers of cream and don’t even mind if I look like a cake. I like this new, American look.

Then my niece arrives (in shorts) (tailored ones) (she looks a million dollars but I can definitely see her knees) and her boyfriend seems to have dropped straight out of an Armani catalogue, immaculate in perfect, neutral tones. He also looks like he shaved five seconds ago. They are Hollywood in Sydney.

Nearly everyone is wearing grey and navy. Oh well; it is hard not to. Along with black, they are the go-to colours (without patterns) of our age. All the outfits look great but we are missing more beige.

Some of us are wearing vague patterns, so vague it doesn’t matter. People mutter about wanting to feel like themselves, wanting to dress like themselves. Fine, I think, I would rather dress in a new nationality.

We look handsome, a little motley at the edges maybe, but like ourselves.

“I brought you some flowers from our garden” I say to Sheilagh. “Shall I put them in the bedroom?”

“That’s a good idea” she says and I take them in to my father who is sitting on the edge of the bed.

“These are from our garden” I say because he came up to see it in the winter but it was too cold to go outside so we mostly saw it from the window.

“Is that your protea tree?” he had asked, pointing to the giant, mass of pink lightbulb blossoms. It looks like a UFO but friendly.

“Yes!” I say.

The pink lights have faded so today we have brought him roses, honeysuckle and star jasmine.

“Oh!” he says, as I push them into his face to smell. “They’re lovely!”

A few days earlier, on the telephone, I check: “Sheilagh says you’re a bit weaker than when I saw you.”

“A bit weaker, where? In the head?” he asks.

“Yes, of course” I answer and he laughs loudly.

“You need more energy, that’s all.”

The photoshoot over and the next day there are some loose wires, the normal amount.

My sister-in-law and I are debriefing on the telephone. It is amazing how the technology has not gone out of fashion although I would say that.

After the big photo, there were mini groupings and mini portraits that not everyone understood.

“I hope you know you are one of the sisters” I say – or I try to. I wish I had now – it is what I meant. But she gets what I mean and tells me she wasn’t hurt by anything, in this case by being last invited for the sisters photo. It sounds so awful in print. It was worse in person. And it is why I have called her.

“We were just trying to make sure my older sister felt included because she had been left out of the redheads photo and she was photo-bombing it like crazy.”

“That’s okay” says Rose. “I saw that. I thought the redheads photo was cute.”

“So did I” I say but don’t offer the real reason I invented it. It’s so complicated. It always is. But that is how families are. We may look American (on a good day) but underneath, we are chaos and affection, dodging slings and arrows, sending forth others, their heads poisoned with love. It’s a dart game only the very brave or foolish would play, except we all play it, mostly, because mostly we all have families. That is, if we are lucky.

“But he’s not ready to go” I tell Rose because we have got onto the topic. And because I know he is not. Because I checked with Sheilagh. And because his face tells me.

“Yes, I’m sure he will be okay” says Rose because that’s the other thing, she’s very good at saying motherly things.

We hang up and am glad it is the last thing she has said. I go over it a few times, pull every piece of strength from it. It is extra generous of her because she lost her father last year.

I know he is tired. But I will make him a nice bed so he can sleep. So he can rest and be comfortable. So he can conserve his energy.

And please stay with us.

Beautiful illustration by Anna Silivonchik

Lessons in how to fly

Now, when I open the door I am hit by flying popcorn. It happens in the morning, each morning and it is getting worse.

I wish so many things for them but most of all I wish they could fly. I wish they could fly better. I suppose they are trying.

Bizz bizz bi … bizz …

Bizz bizz …

They’re hopeless.

“Fly!” I want to yell at them. But you can’t yell at the hopeless. It only makes things worse.

“Fly, please.”

They pay no attention. I am wasting myself.

Bizz … bizz … bop!

“Hey!”

I am hit in the face again.

If I could fly, if I could fly even just a little bit, I would certainly teach them although I think they would be poor students which could reflect badly on me.

Nevertheless I would give it a go.

Bizz bizz … bi …

I feel like giving it a go anyway. It’s tempting. They are so pathetic. It’s almost impossible to stand by and not try (to teach them how to fly.)

Outside, I roll one over so that it is upright. That’s the other thing; they fall over and then they just lie there on their backs.

“Get up!” I want to command.

But it could sound harsh so usually I just roll them back over, up onto their legs.

“Come on” I say.

Bizz bizz.

Cicadas in chant.

When we were children, meaning all of us, there was a sort of prize in catching one and keeping it. Even girls. You would take it to school and just sort of walk around with it. Later you would let it go.

If you found a Black Prince it didn’t even matter if it was dead. It was still amazing.

“Look!” and you would empty out your pocket. “A Black Prince! It’s dead.”

“Oh!!!”

Then you would put it back in your pocket. Maybe later it would turn up in the laundry.

Even the green ones were worth something – but not usually dead. A Green Emperor still alive was roughly equivalent to a dead Black Prince.

Bizz … bizz.

I don’t know what these ones would fetch; they can’t fly. Or they take a very long time to learn.

They bounce and fall on their backs. When they take flight it is with eyes closed and they bump into walls, trees, you, like popcorn.

Bizz bizz … bop! …

… right in the face.

They are everywhere now, each day more and more. Legion in number, that’s one thing I can say for them. Although their numbers would be higher if they would get off the driveway. I am the angel of death and their flight instructor. It’s a complicated world.

Yet these ones are not green or black.

“They must be either Black Princes or Green Emperors” says Pete because ocassionally, although he is intelligent, his mind is inflexible. There can be no give for new information. Today, for example. Cicadas must be either Green Emperors or Black Princes even if they are brown.

“I think they are Brown Kings” I say. It is a name I invent.

“Oh, yes.”

Bop! Pete gets it in the face.

“Bizzzzzzz … zorry …”

“That’s okay.”

Nothing else is new here except for everything, still. The wardrobe and other socks are either finished or still in the making. It’s exhausting but it makes for a day job. This is my night one even though it is morning.

Or lunchtime. I better get up and start breakfast.

No excuses: I could say that we are still adjusting to the new time zone (after six months) except it is only me. Pete adjusted.

So I could say that I am still adjusting to the new time zone but the time zone is the least of my adjustments.

I am adjusting to the new day job. It’s very physical which is different to siting up in bed all morning writing.

In between bouts of physical labour and socks there is also the garden which is very physical labour although you should see it. It’s kind of magnificent. It keeps throwing up new buds, new blossoms. Every day it does this.

Yesterday, for example, I noticed that one of the bushes down the back, the small one next to the washing line, has turned purple with flower. It happened overnight.

We have run out of names for plants we thought we knew. We go as far as: “rhododendron, camilla, wattle, iris, magnolia, something, something something something, white, red something, greviiliia, green, something like lavender.”

“Warratah!”

“Brown Kings!”

“Yes!”

“Flightless cicada!”

It must be my day off because I am still here – but I had better get up. I can hear the popcorn. They will need rolling over.

And some lessons in how to fly.

News update: Having lived as pupae underground for seven years, the cicadas have birthed themselves but are afflicted with weakness it seems on mass, our neighbour tells us. “Gosh” I say. “Yes” he affirms. “But why and what to do about it?” No one knows and we all just shrug. “I think we have to ask the Ministry of Cicadas” he says (really.)

Finding roses

I am grateful for the wealth of luck in our world. Some people say there is not enough but imagine if there were none. No one would get out of bed. It would be bad luck. Everything would be.

It is almost impossible to imagine such a world. Just the thought would be enough to drive you back to bed which is where I am.

It is a beautiful morning. Most people are probably up; the sun is up and you are probably up. Whereas I am still here.

I am still here because if I get up the garden will see me and I am supposed to be having a day off. It will be the same as last time.

It’s funny – in a way that doesn’t make me laugh – because it is supposed to be a low maintenance garden. That is what the real estate brochure said:

Low maintenance garden

But we were too smitten with it’s beauty. However I did notice there was no lawn.

“There’s no lawn … it must be very low maintenance. Oh look! It says so here …”

Yet our low maintenance garden is killing us. I am only here now because I have run away from it. If it was any more low maintenance we would not survive I think. But it is low, just above death threshold.

“I am not going to do any gardening today” I thought to myself last time “I am just going to lie here and rest, like I used to …”

But it was a beautiful day, one of those days that is all things to all people. A sunny day, that sums it up perfectly.

“I better take the washing out” I thought to myself. “The washing will love this beautiful day.”

And that is what I did. In my pyjamas because I would need them later for lying down, for when the washing was hung in rows parallel to the earth and goddesses were smiling at my housekeeping.

But unfortunately the washing line is in the garden and the garden decided to kidnap me. Just for an hour – an hour was kind.

I started to peg, it was only a start, when my eye was drawn to the fence behind the washing line, the fence at the back. Actually the fence is at the side but as I was side on it to it, it was at the back.

There was a rose bush I had missed. I trimmed twenty of them on the weekend. But there was one I missed and the garden was kindly pointing it out, drawing my eye to it. I swear I didn’t look – my eye was drawn.

There >>>

“Oh God … a rose bush …”

But the garden has no time for complainers and I was set to work straight away there in my pyjamas, there in our low maintenance garden. I hadn’t even had my tea. I never have my tea anymore.

This is the situation I am trying to describe to you. I am at a loss.

I feel like going into the real estate agent office and complaining. I don’t know what I would say though … What could I say?

“I haven’t had my tea yet!”?

Should I go in my pyjamas? To bring home the point?

What is the point? I don’t think I know anymore.

I am falling in love this stupid garden, the one that steals all my time. The love is creeping up on me in big doses. I believe I am loving it as a consequence of pain and being chained to it.

That is why I am staying here in bed. Because of the stupid garden. It may be the only way to stop the process of love even though it is course of action that has never worked for anyone. Not for any place, nor any thing. Nothing, no-one. It has never stopped anyone falling for Mr wrong or Miss Wrong. No-one, never. It’s never worked.

But I’m going to give it a try. Because I really resent it.

Here’s how it went with the roses:

After I trimmed them (all but one) I had to try to put them in the bin, these bladed spears. But It is almost impossible. Rose branches don’t like to conform – they are non-conformist.

I borrowed another bin so we had two bins of them, twins.

It was no good.

“Pete, when you come back, just be careful around the side there because the #***^{}#{*** roses won’t fit in the bin. They’re sticking out like knives. Please take care.”

“Oh really? Okay” he answered. It sounded like he was humming. He’s very low maintenance.

Our garden is also low maintenance – in a manner I don’t recognise; it hasn’t any lawn. That is where my recognition ends.

Yet there are things growing where lawn might have been. Lots of things: exotic things, native things. Where there is space there are paths that curve and spiral, wander and twist. You could get lost. You could lose your train of thought.

It’s so beautiful.

It is winter and we have flowers, winter flowers.

There is a little plant I am trying to save … but if I tell you about it I will lose my train of thought.

There is so much to love. All the little things.

Australian_washing.JPG

Beautiful images courtesy of Australia.

House call

Two weeks after we arrive I email my friend. “We’ve looked and looked and there isn’t anything!”

Later I call my mother with the same news. “We’ve looked and looked and there isn’t anything!”

“Don’t you think you need to give it more time?” she asks. “It’s a house.”

“No.”

A week later there is an update.

“We’ve found it!”

“Golly! That was quick!” writes my friend.

“Golly! That was quick!” says my mother.

“Really?” I ask.

When you have nothing to do, nothing else to do, it can happen like that.

Having nothing else to do, or only one thing to do if you are reading the other way, is focusing. Although it has its detractors and is unpopular because most people are busy, if at all possible I highly recommend it; three weeks with only one thing to do is like five years of normal time.

In this case, not having found a house after two weeks felt like twenty years; extra years added for regular boredom. That is the only part of the formula that is random. If you use the formula at home you may get a different result depending on your ability to do things like wait.

When we did find something after days and days, after many days,

nearly twenty –

it felt like the earth had changed its axis and ice was melting after 40,000 years. It was like turning a page on a calendar and arriving in the next millennium.

At last!!!! After all this time!!!! I thought.

To others I explained: “No, it was a whole three weeks.”

Unfortunately my description of it is longer than expected. Out of the whole experience I would say that is the only down side.

Clock strikes nine.

“Oh look at the time …”

Looks.

“Shall we go to bed?”

“Okay.”

Pete is usually first to get under the covers. I know because I always find him there. I did again this night.

I start the climb in; the bed we have erected is huge and seems to have no end. It is a double bed with a single bed on one side and they are pushed together, squeezed, inside a room just small enough. We are making do and this thing is part of it.

“Pete?”

“Yes?”

“I’ve looked and looked and there isn’t anything. I’ve looked everywhere. But I can’t find it. I can’t find our house.”

Pete is patient and believes that if we find our house in the next twelve months we will be doing well. But he loves me and trusts me so he makes it easy.

The days are flying by. “I think we need to ask our house to call us.”

“Okay” he says.

Silence; faint sound of question floating upward, hovering over hill and valley, toward a path blazed by an old star.

The next morning our agent calls. She has made herself ours. Our agent is all things to us: aunt, mother, grandmother. Friend, bestie, bff. Forever companion, always correspondent, constant gardener.

“I’m just calling to see whether you’ve found anything ….” She sounds desperate. She often does. It’s why we can’t hang up on her.

“No, nothing since you called yesterday” but she can’t hear me very well nor I her because there is an electrician in the fuse box of our temporary home who is fixing the wiring and teaching me electronics.

She continues: “… because if you could just go up a little bit more (she means in budget) there’s something …”

Yet the line is so bad and there are too many things happening that we say goodbye with no new understanding of anything except that she will call again in a week which means tomorrow.

But I still have only one thing to do so after the electronics I am back on this looking at everything on her books. Anything that could fit the description she never gave me.

” … if you could just go up a little …”

I see one house I have noticed before but not considered. Now all I notice is a garden.

I schedule a drive by for that moment. With only one thing to do I am always ready.

It looks gorgeous from the street. But I am very bad at decisions so I just stare at it from the car and decide against it.

Luckily the next day I make an appointment.

It is lovely. After a few days Pete sees it too so it is just the three of us. Our agent is nearly always close.

It is so lovely I can only pick faults and decide firmly against it.

But for the next few days I can think of nothing else – even when I am not, I am thinking: the house, the house, like I am under a spell.

I view other properties but it is like walking through mud. My heart is gone. I am like ghost walking through mud viewing other properties.

One day, absolutely sure about not being sure, I go back and stand in the garden.

The sun is bright and peeping out in flashes from behind clouds but it lights the garden like a pro. I walk to the back and stop. In front of me dozens of bees are lazily swarming rosemary hedges the owners have kindly planted.

I sit on a bench the owners have kindly placed under a tree.

A little while later I make a call.

“I’m standing in the garden of our new house” I say and Pete laughs. He always laughs.

“Where are you?” he asks and I tell him.

“I will camp in the back garden. It’s’ beautiful here.”

Later I ask our agent if this was the house she was referring to when she called that day.

“No” she says.

In a language we are not to understand only to respond to, we took a call one morning, bright and early, while the sun was out, a morning after a single question took an old star trail. It went something like this:

Get here before the bees have supped, before the pollen has been spilt, before the flowers have been impregnated to reproduce before your eyes come the spring!

One day I will show you the flowers.

Beautiful image: Spring garden house beautiful wallpaper

Where there is rain, there is love

It is so wet here in Britain. As if there weren’t enough reasons for leaving.

It is raining nearly everywhere. Everywhere that I know of which constitutes infinity.

When it rains in Britain it is considered miserable. This is not an opinion; it is official. Ask any Brit. Choose one of our wet days and then ask someone from here: “What is the weather like in Britain today?”

“Miserable.” This is the answer you will get.

When it rains and rains and rains in Britain and as well as that it is cold and to top it all off it is summer … people don’t know what to say. There is silence. When speech comes there is a distinct droll pitch to it. It is the kind of weather that brings out the irony of the nation.

“This is Britain “ they say. “Nobody comes here for the weather.”

No but this weather … …  is for ducks.

I do not want to fall in love with this country again now that we are leaving. This weather helps.

But on Saturday afternoon the sun shone so we took our chances and went for a walk. I was only hoping that it would stay dry for the journey. I was unprepared.

It is such a fertile place this island. Being wet is part of it. Mostly it is not this wet but now that it is  … you should see how the earth has responded …

There are dandelions that seem a hundred feet tall. Okay, maybe that is too poetic. If I subtract the poetry there are dandelion-like flowers that are nearly as tall as me. They are on stilts. There are some across the road at the base of the castle rock and they are a metre and a half tall and still growing.

A mile from here at the giant outcrop of volcanic rock that is Arthurs Seat and in the meadows beneath as well as sewn into every neighbouring hill like cross-stitch tapestry is a sea of pastel; a palate of wildflowers in chalky artist colours, sketched marks on the landscape in crayons I have not seen before.

It is a scene that has been coloured in by a child; it is sprinkled and scribbled with colour, accounting for the abundance of tapestry. Grass gives way to little floral heads stemming high above it from ground that has become garden. In other places the grass is metres high but the flower heads rise just as furiously beating their companions by an inch, taming them and saying: “We can share.”

Other flower heads sit upright on melon-like, thick stems – some with spikes, like pointy jungle rope – climbing higher and higher to catch the sun and steal the warmth before this afternoon closes in and the night is drowned by a peculiar British monsoon that will stay for days and weeks.

High up where altitude has made the grass bowling green flat, the flora diminishes and becomes teensy-weensy. You have to be careful, treading here and there in your big giants boots; this is wee world. It’s creatures are diminutive, barely visible like confetti of tiny folk.

Oh yes. I am glad of this rain. Otherwise all of this … this scene flocked with blossoms, a place where bees and ladybirds, dragonflies, beetles and butterflies sup together during long, hummy evenings (because the sun will not set until eleven) … this gentle scene that steals beats from my heart would break it on leaving.

I will not fall in love with this again. No I will not.

When it rains in summer in Australia everything comes alive. There are crickets and frogs and crocodiles to lap it all up. I have only ever known the first two. You have to live in a swamp in far north Queensland or the Northern Territory to see the latter.

We did live in a swamp. But it was pretty tame, not far north enough for crocodiles.

Our swamp was Byron Bay which sits on the far right hand side of the map when you are looking at Australia.

The creatures of our swamp were hippies, cafe lovers and groove meisters. There were artists and backpackers and new age thinkers and an abundance of exquisite creatures. There were some black Australians, a lot of white Australians and some with freckles. There was Pete and I. There was Pete’s greenie gang. But there were no crocodiles.

However there were frogs. Millions of them. Because it was a swamp. No-one really understood this until it rained. Then you knew it. You couldn’t ignore it.

One year it rained and rained for two weeks solid. Night and day. There were frogs everywhere. They were in the garden, they were stuck on the windows like stickers. “These frogs are a bit rude. I can see their bottoms.” They were out, hic-hiccuping, leaping and prancing fearlessly.

The frogs out-volumed the pouring rain. The pouring rain was loud enough. But after two weeks of it so many frogs had come home – an estimated two hundred individual species, all with their own song – that the neighbourhood became like a concert auditorium. You could hear it through closed windows and doors. It was without end. A frog symphony- deafening, spellbinding, beautiful. A choral of swampsters. A neighbourhood miracle.

“Where did all these frogs come from?”

No-one seemed to know.

We went out one night to hear them better. The first night was terrible. The little frogs knew nothing about road safety.

We rescued as many as we could. Dainty wet feet in the palm of my hand. Dainty leaps – jump jump – in cupped hands. Here you go little frog … placing them back in the vacant lots which were now all ponds.

When the rain stopped everything went silent. Our hearts were heavy like laundry left too long in the rain. It was so quiet.

Where it rains there is a lucky-dip. Where it rains there is great danger: that you will fall in love. You will fall in love and never fall out of it.

We do not think we will be moving back to this swamp. We only know we are moving somewhere.

Where there is rain, there is love. I hope ours heart are big enough to hold it all.