I’m a city gal. Born, bred, schooled and even married (at least once) in Sydney. I can negotiate peak hour traffic, park my car in a shoebox, drink my café latte on the run and carry fifteen bags of shopping in one fell swoop.
One year ago exactly we sold our suburban North Shore home, gave away most of our possessions and decided to live in Israel for 6-months. It is said that if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans and God must now be holding his belly after hearing my plans.
On returning home we thought we were going to housesit for a few short months and then move into our new home bought off the plan eighteen months earlier. Can you hear Him giggle? The construction company and the Council decided to have a standoff, ten paces and the first one shoots the other one dead. The Council won. The construction company went into an obstinate sulk and stopped work. And we are left without a permanent place in which to live, couch surfing in the homes of family and friends.
One warm spring Sunday whilst enjoying a picnic in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney we noticed a little blue cottage with a For Sale sign. Boldly knocking on the door and apologizing for the interruption but asking whether we could have a look, we bought the house three days later.
This 112-years old cottage with its large level garden and wide array of fruit trees has turned my life around in ways I could never have imagined. To begin with I have given up manicured nails for the sheer joy of digging out and removing an old privet tree and planting in its place a Tahitian Lime. I walk outside still wearing my T-shirt from the night before and revel in the dew-soaked grass drenching my feet and covering them in specks of soil and threads of dry grass. Kneeling down I begin to weed around a row of azaleas and marvel at the number of snails that are hiding inside the foliage and decide today that I’ll find a good way to get rid of them. Me. Who never even thought of gardening but focused on raising five children and on studying and practicing my chosen career.
I lose myself in an old lemon tree that’s bulging with young green lemons. I notice tiny yellow buds forming toward the tips of the branches and many lemons just falling on the ground, another thing to look into and learn what this means. And before the sun becomes too hot maybe it’s a good time to plant the three new rose bushes bought at a Wentworth Falls nursery simply because the fragrance made me buckle at the knees as I was walking past looking for blueberries to plant beneath the old pine tree where nothing other than azaleas, camellias and blueberries grow in the pine-acidic soil.
Time slips by but I remain engrossed in digging wide holes and filling them with water before gently removing the English Rose from its black plastic pot and making sure that it’s planted facing in the right direction. The heat of the day returns me to another reality and I realize I have not yet washed or even drunk a glass of water. My back aches and I am filled with a joy and satisfaction I have rarely known through physical work. One look back at the morning’s work before I step back in time and to a tiny blue cottage that found me long before I knew I was ready for it.
Oh! And these days God and I seem to enjoy a good laugh, together!