Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

Nun’s wimples or a simple cyclamen?

June 1, 2019

IMG_0140white cyclamen.PNG

Cyclamen.

Winter has started and don’t the cyclamen know it! The fag-end of our autumn came with a furious storm that felled more than just trees, it also brought the return of a terrible drought. Sydney with its inhabitants of over 5 million and 650 suburbs is now again on water restrictions. Only hand-held hoses for watering gardens is allowed and strict penalties apply for contravening this law. In the past neighbours were encouraged to dob in those that would sneak out at the hollow of the night and furtively watered their beloved lawns. Short showers and single toilet flushing are now advised but still allowed, but for how long? ( ‘If its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down,’ was a voluntary policy hailed by our Government as a resounding success during the last drought)

Our main water supply is behind a large concrete dam named Warragamba. it holds more in fresh water than Sydney’s harbour but it’s level is now at 50% which is the reason for automatic placing of water restrictions. The storms and unusual warm weather patterns are blamed for the water shortage with evaporation and  ageing bursting water infrastructures adding to its woes. Each time you get a return taxation credit in your mail in tax, you will get less service and more burst water mains.

But, I am all set on the beauty of life and the cyclamen I photographed today is proof of my determination to persevere in seeking beauty and avoid any thing detrimental to that pursuit, including the possible premature anticipation of not flushing the toilet in order to save Sydney water.  In any case we don’t live in Sydney and as far as I know we still have adequate water. On the farm we always had to be very careful with water as the only water we had is what we collected from our roofs. and stored in many tanks.

We always saved the water from our washing machine and used it to flush toilets and water the plants. Brushing teeth would never be done under a running tap and as for the dish washer, we never used it.

But now back to the cyclamen. I seem to not get away from thinking about nuns when I look at that photo and am curious if some viewers feel the same. It is not often anymore that one sees nuns wearing their long habits while wearing veils or wimples.

Here a poem by Gerard Manly Hopkins.

Heaven-Haven

  • A nun takes the veil
  • I have desired to go
  • Where springs not fail,
  • To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
  • And a few lilies blow.
  • And I have asked to be
  • Where no storms come,
  • Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
  • And out of the swing of the sea.

 

‘Winter in America,’ Children’s Library and Vegie co-op (Auto-biography)

July 26, 2015
Balmain Watch-house.

Balmain Watch-house.

The way things are going in this auto- biography it will run into a literary cinemascope  version of  Days of our Lives with the Hammond organ belting out a circular and never ending tune.  The cheek of thinking that my life is any better or more important or interesting than that of any living being or Jo Blow!  I shall just continue because I enjoy this very much.  And if there is a blow out of too many words, well…just skip a few pages… or start at the end and work towards the middle. Even if it relieves insomnia for just a single night for just a single person, I’ll be a happy man.

Apart from the baby-sitting club, another community enterprise was the vegie co-op which also started to sprout up in the various communities of inner Sydney suburbs. I am not sure anymore if this came about during our stay at Gertrude’s cottage between 1969-1973 or after our stay in Holland and subsequent return in 1976. In any case a group of people decided to fork out $10.- each week towards a kitty to buy fruit and vegetables at the Flemington wholesale fruit and vegie markets at Homebush.  It was a huge market covering a very large area where all the fruit and vegie shops would get their produce at wholesale prices. It also had several cafeteria where the buyers could get sustenance and a coffee. Many fruit and vegie shops were run by Italians and Greeks, so food and coffees were as necessary as the apples, kale and celery which they filled their trucks up with, especially when the buying started at 5am.  You can imagine how early the growers had to get up and prepare their stalls? Farming is tough! It was a hectic few hours and the men, and many women too, would be ravenous by seven am. The market as all markets do, also had great atmosphere and laughter was everywhere.

Of some interest was my market shopping partner Jimmy Stewart. He was  Irish. He loved a good yarn and food. He looked somewhat like a juvenile Oscar Wilde. He had dark hair hanging over his face and a large stomach. After our shopping of many boxes of fruit and vegies, we would visit the cafeteria, enjoy bacon and eggs, coffee and a cigarette. He loved women and they generously reciprocated, yet he was never good marriage material. His income sporadic and swallowed up by international phone calls to entrepreneurial music and record companies. He generally managed to get me to buy cigarettes and pay for the bacon and eggs. But, he was terrific company, always whistling and singing. A cheerful soul. A great friend.

He was a writer of music, popular music and would let nothing stand in the way of doing that. Sadly, it did not bring in a regular income, yet women were attracted to him often in order to find out that a future including a cosy and secure family-life would be hazardous at best and reckless at worst.  That’s how so often and so sadly, love gets lost. The combination of income with a mutual everlasting and reasonable attraction is so desired and yet so rarely achieved. Money so often the banana skin on the doorstep of many relationships. Indeed, even with plenty of money things can get perilous.

While we drove to the markets and back he used to hum a song that really hit the world at that time. It was ‘Winter in America’.  It had a line that included the ‘Frangipani’. “The harbour’s misty in the morning, love, oh how I miss December / The frangipani opens up to kiss the salty air” – Ashdown’s lament to “leave love enough alone” has become one of the great Australian standards.

It was Jimmy Stewart’s creation and he would often sing it while driving to Flemington markets..

Here it is;

At the same time of the weekly boxes of fruit and vegies, another group also brought to fruition a Children’s library. Another community effort. The retired chief Commonwealth librarian named Larry Lake was the main person behind this idea. The National Trust had given the use of the Balmain Lock-up to a group that called themselves “The Balmain Association’. The ‘Lock-up’ or Watch house’ was busy during the heydays of Balmain still working as a Stevedoring and Waterfront suburb. There were lots of maritime associated industries and that is what attracted many to the area when that ceded to exist. During earlier times and at night the local constable would have been busy locking up inebriated sailors or others that liked to frequent so many pubs it was difficult to find normal houses in between. I believe Balmain had over 60 pubs at one stage. The air used to be thick with coarse oaths and rank vomit renting along the blue-stone cobbled noisy streets. It frightened the horses at times.

A group including myself spent many evenings getting this library working. There were fundraisings and book covering, cataloguing and getting shelving to fit into one of the Lock-up cells. It had a heavy steel door and sliding locking mechanism. Those poor drunks! The children that used to visit the cell library afterwards, just loved it.

Those were the days. It did include occasional bra removals, but also baby-sitting, vegie co-ops, music and books for children.