Annabelle Hick­son: A Day in the Coun­try

WHY ANNABELLE HICK­SON IS FEEL­ING THE SPECIAL BOND OF FRIEND­SHIP.

Country Style - - CONTENTS -

IMAG­INE YOUR LIFE in the form of four gas burn­ers. One rep­re­sents your fam­ily, the sec­ond is your friends, the third is your health and the fourth is your work. Amer­i­can writer David Sedaris sug­gests that to be suc­cess­ful you have to cut off one burner, and to be re­ally suc­cess­ful, you have to cut off two. I’d say fam­ily and work flames are where my heat is at, while the oth­ers are on sim­mer. I re­cently upped the in­ten­sity of the work flame to a rolling boil, start­ing a pod­cast with a friend, Gil­lian Bell. It’s called Dis­patch To A Friend and it’s based on the let­ters we write to each other. It’s sim­ply an au­dio cor­re­spon­dence be­tween two friends who like cook­ing, eat­ing, read­ing and gar­den­ing. And be­cause it falls into the work cat­e­gory, I have al­lo­cated time to it. Now I write weekly, as op­posed to ev­ery now and then, as I did be­fore. I now make time to speak to Gil­lian on the phone. We text and email, too. We talk about things like what recipes we might in­clude on the web­site and who we could ask to con­trib­ute to our news­let­ter. And in be­tween these de­ci­sions, we slip in lots of lit­tle snip­pets from our daily lives: doc­tor’s vis­its, frus­tra­tions with tech­nol­ogy, kids say­ing funny things, hus­bands who wear things with holes in them. In­ad­ver­tently, un­der the guise of work, I have found my­self ded­i­cat­ing se­ri­ous time to cul­ti­vat­ing our friend­ship. It re­minds me of when I was younger, when I’d call up a friend, for maybe the third time that day, and ask, “What are you do­ing right now?”, be­cause I gen­uinely wanted to know. I was not at all dis­ap­pointed if her an­swer was some­thing mun­dane like, “Think­ing about tak­ing my jumper off.” It was a time when there were no spe­cific rea­sons for hang­ing out. In­ti­macy was based on a foun­da­tion of or­di­nary, seem­ingly end­less shared mo­ments, without any pre­con­ceived out­comes. Iron­i­cally, it is through hav­ing a de­fined out­come — cre­at­ing a pod­cast about or­di­nary friend­ship — that I now am re­mem­ber­ing what it is like to en­joy this kind of beau­ti­ful friend­ship. Ev­ery week I spend a great deal of time with Gil­lian — more than I have spent with any friend since the days of flat­mates. Some of it is funny (Gil­lian likes to talk about things like fight­ing pantry moths), some of it is stress­ful (Gil­lian thinks she knows our user­names and pass­words, but she doesn’t and nei­ther do I), and some of it is bor­ing (work­ing out our user­names and pass­words!). All of it is way be­yond the gates of catch-up mode — it is in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing. “It’s not the per­son who calls to say, ‘I’m hav­ing an af­fair’,” wrote Amer­i­can author Ann Patch­ett in an es­say on fe­male friend­ship. “It’s the friend who calls to say, ‘Why do I have four jars of pick­les in my re­frig­er­a­tor?’” It is the minu­tia, the will­ing­ness to of­fer up ev­ery de­tail, that marks the bond be­tween women.” I do en­joy some glo­ri­ous mo­ments talk­ing about the finer points in life, thanks to my neigh­bour, San­dra. Our chats are mostly about the price of or­ganic pork ver­sus non-or­ganic pork and how the 5:2 diet went this week. It’s won­der­ful. And there are so many de­tails with the chil­dren. I fig­ured I’d had my fill, but no, I wanted more... I was aching for it. Now, through mak­ing a pod­cast with a friend, I have more and it is so bloody good! The nub of this story is: if you are miss­ing this type of friend­ship, you must do what­ever you can to turn up that friends flame. Turn it up high enough and for long enough so that all those won­der­ful lit­tle mo­ments that de­fine fe­male friend­ship get a chance to ger­mi­nate and stick their heads up out of the ground, be­fore they are up­rooted by the great big swoosh of ev­ery­thing else. Annabelle Hick­son lives on a pe­can farm in the Du­maresq Val­ley, NSW. Fol­low @annabelle­hick­son on In­sta­gram. Dis­patch To A Friend is avail­able on itunes or visit dis­patch­toafriend.com

LEFT Annabelle (left) with with her friend Gil­lian Bell in Ed­in­burgh on a visit to Scot­land for their pod­cast. BE­LOW Annabelle took this pho­to­graph of Gil­lian with Scot­tish artist He­lena Em­mans on the Isle of Skye.

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