stonemasons are becoming things of the past

here we are back in adelaide for the xmas-new year period. as usual i get sucked in to local things, and so i just registered to adopt the street tree out the front of our place. it has not looked well for a few years, when all the other ironbarks in the street look quite healthy. i think it is dying of thirst. since there are water restrictions in force, i need approval or assistance to lay drip hoses out the front of our property.
next door, all the trees have gone. people moved in, cut down all the trees and bushes higher than head height, and now do not live there but come occasionally to do renovations.

it’s a peculiarly australian failing, what robin boyd (1960: The Australian Ugliness) called “aboraphobia”. or, as the old aussie motto (sardonically) says: “If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn’t, chop it down”. two doors up, we have a vacant lot. when we moved here in 2005,  there was an old stone double villa, built about 1870. after it was sold to notable local developers, there was consternation about the house being demolished and also the trees being cut down in the back yard. i have detailed the story of the trees elsewhere…

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mr percival dies

an iconic australian star passes away, and with him it seems, the country about which colin thiele’s book was written is also dying….

the book, storm boy, was made into a movie in the mid 1970’s. although the story featured a young boy, the main character of the book was the country. in most of the movies and books that i remember from that era,  the notion of ‘trespass’ was an underlying theme. [tom keneally’s books are also in that camp – thinking of ‘a dutiful daughter’ and ‘the chant of jimmy blacksmith’ for example – and randolph stow’s ‘merry-go-round in the sea’ in particular]. in the movie ‘storm boy’, it is the land, the coorong, which was the constant presence, the actual star.

here’s a short trailer –

the coorong, a large area of land at the end of the great murray-darling river system, a series of lakes and wetlands, deprived of water by european intervention, is dying. what was once a beautiful dry sparkling strange place filled with birdlife, turns into a sad shadow of itself.

the local indignenous people stand by helpless as their ancestral country is ruined by pastoral greed and plain ignorance.

how can we sleep while our beds are burning?

it belongs to them – let’s give it back.

the local xtian lads wrote this back in the 80’s… peter garrett front man for the oils is now being regaled by his own words, hung by his own petard…. meantime, their lyrics still resonate for us [shortly, a treatise on midnight oil and the now member for kingsford, linked to some other traditional views on oz]…

beds are burning…

a day of carnage

Frank said he was leaving for Victoria, Garden State and land of overweening bureaucracy on Thursday. I’d been trying to get him to come over and lend me his truck for some time, also cut some limbs off one of my trees, the weed tree, the acacia that was growing far too well and cutting out the sun on some of the other trees I’d hoped would grow faster. I needed the truck to take a load of cuttings and other green waste to the dump. I needed to do it before I left for Sydney.

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dragons coming home to land

in 1978, i was living in london, in a place where you sometimes caught sight of a dragon coming in to land on the horizon between the buildings. so close it looked as if it were landing just a couple of bus stops down the road.

a video from youtube saying more about me than anything else…

…well, tracing one’s internet/browsing habits might take the path of checking out what folder-names and actual URLs one has bookmarked in the favourite browser. even better would be access to browser history – obviously i do not use youtube to look for videos of trains and planes and aviators every day, but after a while a pattern does develop…

there are many videos of concorde – from inside and out – on youtube, but this is the one that makes me cry. about the time the second concorde comes back from edinburgh, my throat starts to catch, and by the time the next one is landing i’ve got the tissues out.             ..something about the sky, the people, and the commentary witnessing the last home-coming of these unbelievable flying things seems to tickle my weeping bone.

space for plants 1

Back home a week now, and the new neighbours have done their worst with the old garden. It used to be a place where, when i got up on the ladder to pick some of the large yellow peaches that hung over our mutual fence on their tree from next door, i would look over that fence in envy, almost guiltily, admiring the layout, the trees, small lawn, well-placed bushes and the lovely old delapidated shed up the back – next to the chook yard where contented chooks clucked, made eggs and ate the weeds and snails i threw over for their delectation.

Sure, it wasnt a native garden with the stone fruit trees, the lemon, the ornamental grapevine whose leaves covered their back pergola in a ruby red in autumn, and the small rose bush plot, but it was an eden-ish place, green, with dappled light filtering down. and there were one or two native plants, including a rather tall callistemon against the far fence – a red bottlebrush much favoured by the local lorikeets when it was in flower.

A new temporary owner (we knew this as s/he had “tidied” the place up – by cutting down the stone fruit trees, severing the thick-as-your-arm bole of the grapevine, and removing the cascading tree that grew over the front brick fence into our yard providing excellent screening of our front door from the street) had begun the process the year before last. And now, new owners had moved in. E had told us while we were in Finland that they had come and asked whether they could cut down the jasmine that grew in a small packet of ground between our houses – indeed it had climbed up onto their roof, and needed to be cut from their side. we arrived home to find that it had been cut off their house and the rest pushed onto our side – a new job for me to deal with. As well, the bottlebrush tree in the back garden had gone, as well as the remaining rose bushes nearby.

But last week, the sound of chainsaw bade me look outside – to witness a team of men cutting down every remaining tree and bush in their front garden. A long tall narrow palm tree next to their front fence i’d often admired, wishing i could have one in my garden – it would have needed at least 50 years to grow that tall – i’m hoping they uprooted it and sold it to someone – a madagascan grass tree, also tall and a favourite lurking place for birds in the evening, it often dropped its old leaves into our front yard, and three other small trees whose identity i can no longer remember. what is left is bare brick wall, which we can easily see now from our front yard, and over that into the street and the other houses beyond.

P has an idea of leaving a note in their mailbox. it would read something like, “we notice that vandals have come and cut down all the trees and plants in your yard and we are sorry that you have had such a welcome to our street where we pride ourselves on our gardens and street trees. we have decided to conduct a lamington drive in order to raise money to purchase some replacement plants for you.”.

as for me, i wanted to light a candle in their front yard, to help with my mourning for the loss of my neighbourhood friends, the graceful trees next door.

next door's front brick wall in 2007 after the first owner had tidied up their garden...

next door’s front brick wall from our front door, taken in 2007 after the first owner had tidied up their garden…

the same view from our front door today...

the same view from our front door today…

It was too much when they also cut down the lemon tree – still hanging over our fence behind the house – who, after having survived those ten days of over 45 degree heat last summer, and so little water for the past three years, was just then putting out new purple sprouts…when they fed its body into the mulcher in the front street, i could smell the citrus in the air as i stood at the back door… i couldnt help it – i burst into tears.

It may be a factor that people do not value the space for plants that they have in a country with so much open space, and traditionally having houses with a backyard. It may be a fear that they cannot control nature in a country so alien from that of Europe. When they look over our fence into our backyard, they probably think we are mad…. but of course, from my point of view….

estonian weekend

Saturday started and finished with snow. I did not feel much like doing anything, but we decided the go past the railway station to the old markets and the ‘wooden building district’. The snow wasn’t so bad, but it did make walking about a little colder on the feet and face.

some trains are pulled up at balti jaam station

some trains are pulled up at Balti Jaam station

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testing the embed function with one of my all time fave NC video clips.
everything – the lyrics, the intonation, the set, the suits, the plastic waves, the moves, the hair…
never fails to raise a smile

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