WHEN you don’t see people all the time you are liable to get a shock when you catch up with them after a while and notice that they are falling apart. I expect people feel the same when they see me, although my ailment isn’t as visible as wonky legs. In that area I am OK because I walk everywhere, but I have something I call water on the brain. I say it’s all the fault of La Nina, who has been making floods the order of the day. I get no sympathy, although I complain like mad.
My condition means that sound seems to bounce off hard surfaces in a very unpleasant way, and for that reason I am not at all keen about getting into cars. I spoke to The Australian’s motoring editor Phil King and told him I hated the Maserati in particular as it makes a huge noise — like seven trains all running together along the railway lines. He was sympathetic, saying that make’s engine was one of the loudest in the motoring world. Not that I have a Maserati and, anyway, now I insist on travelling by shanks’s pony. Well, until I get to the train station.
Although there has been a lot of water about this year, not so long ago we had six really hot days. I scanned the sky with hope but nothing happened, so I found myself having to water the garden before it shrivelled up and died. There was no one at home who could do it for me apart from the dogs, and they are not very experienced when it comes to the kind of squirting needed. I found myself thoroughly enjoying it actually. There was peace, peace, peace, and I am on the verge of volunteering to do it on a regular basis. I liked the sound of the drizzle of refreshing water, echoing in the most pleasant fashion.
I have a good amount of vegies planted at home — there is almost nothing as delicious as home-grown tomatoes — and I have eggplant, strawberries and lettuce. And snails too, of course, and a plethora of toadstools. I asked our gardener whether these could poison us, but he didn’t take my question very seriously. I do take the matter to heart, however, because I remember reading quite recently about some women dying in hospital thanks to being poisoned in this way.
That being the case, I decided I would visit Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens to find out a bit more about plants. When I got there it occurred to me that I may be going bats. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. I hate to say it, but I am quite fond of those mice — or rats — with wings that wheel their way around the trees and practically darken the sky, as there are so many of them.
I know a lot of people consider these bats to be a pest. I am more concerned about army worms, which have been a real trial to me. Munch munch munch, they go. Furthermore, I have an allergy to worms so can’t walk barefoot on the lawn in case I tread on one. One day, some time ago, there seemed to be a bit of a reprieve. I was walking along the street outside our house and saw what appeared to be millions of squiggles leaping up the hill. The worms apparently had heard the news that there was an even more fertile patch of grass in the nearby park. Good riddance. But the joy didn’t last long.
At Easter this year I decided to follow a tradition my mother enjoyed. She hid chocolate eggs in the garden, then would race up on the rubbish tip and wake us children by shouting at the top of her voice, ‘‘ cock-adoodle-doo, cock-a-doodle-doo’’. The neighbours were woken too, but tended to ignore her, thinking, quite understandably, that she was losing her marbles.
When I did the same family sort of thing and secreted chocky eggs about the place — although not crowing like my mother — the grandchildren raced about the garden to find them. But guess what? The bloody worms had found their way back to our place and the eggs were crawling with the beasts.
I once had a friend who was sick of gardens and concreted the back yard. He said it saved him hours of time. It is a tempting solution, but I couldn’t do without trees and roses; especially the jacaranda tree that has always been my pet. I get quite excited every spring when the flowers start budding, and to celebrate I do a couple of handstands on the lawn. When the tree stops flowering I take myself shopping to buy something colourful.
This time I bought myself a turquoise blazer. It makes the winter days bright.