Bateau Bay Floral Reserve

On the Central Coast of NSW, the Bateau Bay floral reserve is delightful in spring! High above the sea the wildflowers and trees sing.  I walked this track with Cedar, Lily and Jesses mama Jane in the week after our return from Europe. Walking the land and basking in the wildflowers, views, textures and scents helped me reintegrate my arrival. It’s an easy, level path, forest/scrubland walk. We walked from the Rushby street Carpark in the direction of Crack neck lookout. 

  
    
   
   
    
    
    
    
    

 
   
    
    
    
    
    

    
    
    
    
 

How much Can a Koala Bare?

  
A koala is not a bear, but they are absolutely adorable and fascinating marsupials. It seems like this one has claimed the territory around our house and property and we’ve seen (him) a few times in the last weeks. We hear a lot of grunting snorting at night which is more evidence of koala presence. The first night Lily remarked she had heard the weirdest frog on the night! When we spotted Sir Koala in the morning the mystery was solved. It’s so precious for me, as growing up in WA there are no wild koalas about and I had only seen a couple in the wild (Adelaide, Rosebank,) until I moved to NSW 6 years ago. I have only seen about 6 wild koalas since then so it’s excellent to see this plump patchy grey fella just outside. They perch on some thin branches and snooze swaying some 25 metres above ground. When they wake up and stare placidly with their endearing fluffy ears and comical nose I can’t help but be cheered! We did rescue a baby koala after a flood, when Lily was three, which was incredible to nurse the little one on my lap after we paddled home. We had been out boating looking for the lost pieces of our friends bridge when I spotted “a puppy in that tree” my brain could not comprehend immediately what I was seeing. Koala habitats are greatly endangered and I just read our local Koala habitat protection zones where reduced by 40.\’ At least one or two are safe on this land we stay on thankfully!

Taking Stock

Returning home and taking stock. Thanks to Pip at Meet me at Mikes for the word list.

  Making :

time to stroll around outside before children wake up. counting leaves and flowers and feeling that everything is really happy I’m home

and fantasise about all the gardening I will do… I have some cheeky plants that went ballistic while I was away and still a few gaps to plant in….

Cooking : snow pea, red capsicum and pineapple sage flower salad with lemon and mandarin dressing, also young broad bean and leek sauted in lemon juice. Mmm

Drinking : mango smoothie, mangoes foraged by Jesse. What a man, he brought in about 300 mangoes last season! Now we enjoy the last frozen cheeks…

Reading: our ash grove blog, beautiful and creative and wondering how does life look homeschooling with 5 children?

Pondering: how to grow with the children and stop my default repeats.

Wanting: a massage, a shiatsu or a kahuna therapist to knock on my door right now…

  Looking: at cobwebs. Lots of cobwebs. Overflowing suitcases, washing and general debris of returning home. Flowers! Lots of flowers!  Also looking at some of my favourite things. Is this really my home?

Playing: a game where i am employed by this house for domestic duties and I get paid holidays and good hours… And other perks…

Wasting: time searching for cherry red flannel sheets on the internet. I know winters over right, but  maybe for next year… 

Sewing: lots in my imagination! Like a whole new rack of simple stylin lady fashion. 

Wishing: spring was 6 months of the year, I could teleport and whistle really genuine bird calls. Not at the same time.

  Enjoying: the reward of planting bulbs at Easter and seeing a bed full of freesias bursting with colour and fragrance in spring . No instant gratification involved. Patience. I think I’m growing up!

Waiting: to grow up and be more patient. To get a hold over this overactive mind. To visit  my newly moved mama and papa in Tasmania!

Liking: the morning sun as I meander the gardens and check on the fruit tree buds and seedlings and the caress of the cool breeze and bird song. Spring mornings in Bellingen are delightful. 

Delighting: in the wild creatures, on the night of our arrival home we are greeted by the first cicadas, the fire flies and a python on the verandah. Welcome home!

Wondering: if I will be able to do all I dream of in one day.

Loving: gathering my family for a home cooked garden dinner by candlelight, at home, at our own table for the first time in a long time. Sweet.

Hoping: the children will have a great swathe of warm memories from their time in our care.

Marvelling: that Cedar has just had his first doctor visit! I was a bit out of depth for this cut and am grateful for the medical help when needed and to Jane for holding my hand and standing up to the pushy Dr. And so grateful he has been a well boy thus far. I know dr help is a big part of some families reality and it’s fantastic when you need them and there they are! 

Needing: to practice to say what I think even if it might be uncomfortable. 

  Smelling: something delightful on the air, floral, springy, mystery blossom.

Wearing: daggy old clothes and feeling ok about that. 

Following: my own adventures on my own blog. Now that’s good for perspective!

Noticing: sometimes I write something I’m proud of. Sometimes I take a photograph I’m proud of! 

Knowing: I need to practice believing in my gifts and talents.

Thinking: about the simple gift of a safe home to go back to and all the people who don’t have one right now.

Feeling: a bit helpless to make a difference right now on a global scale and remembering to practice peace at home.

Bookmarking: hmm. Any suggestions?

Opening: an illustrated envelope, with a handwritten card containing old photos of myself and friends from another life, a gift from a dear friend today to make me smile!

Giggling: at the sweetness of being seventeen.

Feeling: incredulous that it’s only 6 years til I have my own sweet seventeen year old child! 

Quoting: family life is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but all together a sweet melody.

  
All photos from my springy garden! I didn’t shoot the crazy bits.

The BlueForest (Blueberries in the BlackForest) or When nothing goes right, go left.

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This fellows shirt said it for me!(apologies I don’t remember your name….if ever you see this post, email me!) 

It’s taken me a while to pull this story together because some days are painful and ugly and Who wants to hear about that right?.  Even when I awoke that day  determined to be optimistic and cruisy, my effort does not stand up to the challenges of the day. A story about needing to go left. When the small things in life are not going right! And trying to maintain humour and gentleness amidst trials. The blessing is that all things pass and I’ve learnt to just hang in there, do what I can, drop what I can and tomorrow is new.

Many days ago now, We left Switzerland on another stinking hot day. Paused in Basel to busk (unsuccessfully), parking was very hard to find but we ended up near the river so kids and I could swim, by stalking a shady parking spot . The water was gratefully crisp enough! I heard later that even 15 years ago the Rhine was too polluted to swim, now it’s very popular with people dipping and floating along.

We where right by the historic bridge which is beautiful and in the distance could spot the spires of the cathedral and old city. It was strange to be looking at buildings with barely a gap between, facing the rivers edge. I guess the parks are elsewhere. I really wanted to go to the old Paper Mill museum but it was just too hot to walk around. I felt thwarted in my educational efforts and bizarre to come all this way and not be able to do more than keep sane and do nothing really. Have I mentioned yet my family calls me a grumpy polar bear when it’s hot? Hot hot. Im not averse to a bit of whinging about the heat… Really it’s such middle class western  luxury to have the options we do and I’m very grateful.

We pulled into Freiburg late that evening after a disappointing detour past Bad Bellingen (should’ve realised by the name!) bad means bath in German.  I was hoping for some natural place to bathe but it’s a turquoise pool set up. There’s a lot more happening in the Australian Bellingen! Lovely in winter I guess. 

Anyway, disorganised, tired and hot, past dinner time, we got busted for jumping on the tram without tickets! We didn’t want to miss it and wait longer to get to some dinner! They showed us how to function the in tram ticket machine and let us off thankfully! Ignorant travellers I guess. I get anxious in the face of authority and doing something wrong!

A treat to eat out in the old city. Mexican in Germany? Freiburg has a very pretty inner city and good vibes in the evening, lots of people about and delicious foodie smells.

Back to our hot van late to get some rest. Camping in a hot tin can is so difficult!Especially with tired hot kids in the city which does not cool down til dawn. Jesse saved the day by putting their bed outside under a tree and sleeping with them. We found a mobile home campground for 9euro a night near Bissier strasse park and ride. Cheap but noisy from the railway. Thank goodness for earplugs.  The next night was more pleasant at the Hirzberg Campground. It’s 1.2km from the enchanting old City centre. Also green and shady. It can be really tricky coming to a place you don’t know and looking for a place to stay. I ignored my intuition about going straight to the campground the first night unfortunately. 

The next day we met with friends who guided us to nearby lakes and the day was easier. There are a lot of man made lakes along the autobahns, dug out to make the road beds. Another late hot night in the city. Jesse Was busking and we walked in to meet him for dinner. Some moments I am thinking wow this is crazy! Cosmopolitan culture in Europe, dinner at 9 pm and some crazy gigantic ice cream and berry dessert! strolling old cities (600+ year old buildings) balmy summer nights, wonderful and romantic and different if only my inner mama voice could be quiet! My kids where in bed at a wholesome 7.30pm before we left Australia!  This life has such diverse moments. It’s challenging and reallY good also to let the restrictions drop a bit. ItS so temporary. Soon we will be back in home rhythms. I have little resilience for lack of sleep unfortunately. Blessings come though in the form of kind hearted folks and hilarious storytellers in the dark city streets.

From Freiburg we are invited to go berry picking and then swimming in a forest lake higher in the Black Forest mountains. 
Yes please. My days in the city where hot and bothered and I was stretched to breaking. But I hung in there! Not too many tears! Me, not the kids…. But As lily says, ‘it’s not really a holiday because we are doing everyday life. And why can’t we do more holidayish things anyway?’ Memory making.

 My spirit was so renewed by this afternoon tramping the woods and having the warmth of friends. Being outside is my greatest gift at present. Soaking in the different greens of the broad leafed woods and the unfamiliar bird calls and wind whispers and rock songs. It’s fresh and new still and the foreignness leaves me a little thrilled. I really am far far from home. If you have read Ronja by Astrid Lindgren you would see the grey dwarf holes in this wood and Ronja running about and giving her spring yell. 

this handy little rake catches the  blueberries for you, but be careful you don’t strip the leaves off also.    I loved this moment! The papas with their matching picnic baskets! Beautiful masculinity in motion    Cedar said he could stay here forever, well, until it snowed…   There where few berries left and small this season, despite that, the reward of gathering something deliciously tart and sweet from the woods filled me with happiness. It’s so simple.   Tiny finger staining treasures. A worthy hunt! I hear the wild blueberries in the US are enormous! I would like to experience picking there one day…
The lake water is stained amber by leaves and tannins I guess.  The trees surrounding shade the water green. Be brave it’s very cold below the surface! The skin feels soft and wonderful after swimming here.     I was excited to see this small orchid growing in the ditch as we left the forest. Another tiny wonder. 

And thanks goodness we where off to visit dear friends after this. The last challenge of travelling in the unknown was done and from here on we are sheltered by good friends until we fly home. Phew. We did it.

An alpine birthday

Now on this day we celebrate your day of birth 

And we wish you a good and happy life on earth!

(Alternative birthday ditty)        The traditional pancake breakfast substitutes for a cake when we are camping. Lush toppings, fresh berries, cream, yoghurt and maple syrup. I eat renegade savoury pancakes first, gruyere cheese and pesto.

  Craved farm animals from Werner reifentiere. Found at Pastorini in Zurich. Up up up on the cable car from Falkenberg to Oeschin. Summer tobogganing.       The ausblick/outlook is enthralling.     Postcard moments. Oeschinersee. The lake is turquoise. Crispy clear and cold, it is fed by the snow melt and glaciers.       I am enchanted by the alpine flowers and the children hunt out wild strawberries and raspberries. It keeps them busy and happy for an hour and I can soak up the incredible environment at 1500 or so metres above sea level. We are blessed with mostly sunshine and wonderful cloud pictures being sucked on by the peaks.       Another gift was a junior Opinel whittling knife . The end is round so not quite as perilous but just as sharp. There are sticks of softest pine to be found in the woods. This fellow hiked up with his alphorn! I opened conversation as we had all been guessing what was in his pack, and he willingly took it out and played for Us some folk tunes. The harmonic singing of the horn was beautiful to me. It seemed so fitting in this environment. I couldn’t have imagined a better spot to hear it for the first time since childhood.   The sound carried across the water and the long tones needed the space. Magic.   There are many carving and sculptures along the lakeside path. Cedar played his own little birthday Sansula and enchanted us.  

     

 The folk art and carvings on the buildings continuously impress me in Switzerland. I have been guessing they are winter arts to keep hands creative when indoors for much of the year. Strong traditions. The little model house had a barn full of cows like Cedars birthday cow Tulip.  

  Jesse dared to leave the signed pathway (incredibly practical signs for Wanderweg/walkway with distances and times, everywhere in Switzerland. I love the walking culture. This has been a focus of our trip) and despite our resistance ( I’m imagining lost on the mountain in the dark with hungry tired little people) found us a gorgeous place to have a fire for our traditional Swiss sausage roasting. 

  

   

Who loves chocolate and hazelnuts in fire cooked banana s? Have you tried this? Wait  until you have a bed of embers then lay upon it bananas with their side split and chocolate stuffed in. Yum.      Walking down the mountain is not always easier! I think the grade was about 16%. Sore knees and ankles. 

So happy to get to the playground at the bottom! We walked back to camp at 9 pm via the restaurant for slices of cake and warm milks. I took candles and we had a mini birthday celebration there. A super special family day! Hooray Cedar!

To you we sing

And happiness we bring

To celebrate your birth

An angel here on earth. 

Thanks to friends for this song

A moment, a day, a moment.

A moment captured. Beauty. 

  

  Sometimes a photo is the only way to really see these wriggly little peoples faces! Who is this shining being smiling so contentedly? Like a happy cat I imagine he purrs. Warming himself on papas comfy back. 

We spent this day at Türler See(a lake is a see) in the near from Zurich ( more Denglish). We made a jetty our home for the afternoon. The forest behind us, the green water and hills framed by reeds. When I swam far into the lake and spun around I was overjoyed with the beauty surrounding me. So much of my stress and my worries dissolved in the moment. This gift from nature offered freely to us. Serenity in nature. My place of worship.  The water a soothing balm. A moment. A much needed moment. 
    

Lily wove up minute armbands from the reeds. Her nimble fingers astound me! I am so happy that from my coconut weaving she has absorbed this method and can apply it to other materials so easily. Lily had her 11 th birthday this week, I’m so full of love and wonder for this delightful child! Lucky me. Sure we have our challenges together, but more and more as this trip extends I see Lily cleared from the tiredness and influences of school and peers and see her nature shinig through. I credit her resilience to handle the adventuring lifestyle as I know for myself it’s not an easy path yet it has many rewards. 

We had read recently, The Golden Goblet, as part of our Ancient Egyptian curriculum and spoke about the reeds along the Nile and the character Ranofer and his friend in the reeds and how the reeds squeak and rustle. Read it. Reed it. What did the frog say in the library? Read it read it read it….

  One of these perfect dragonflies landed on my leg, oh lucky me I thought, surely a blessing. Then it bit me! Haha. Did you know they bite? Beware the vicious Swiss dragonflies!  

Jesse and I were able to read a lot. We later spoke about how reading is an escape from the moment. It disconnects you from the moment, I looked at where I was and my family and saw I didn’t want to be disconnected, but I enjoyed the distraction as I was so tired this day, sometimes reading is sleeping with eyes open. I read so little now compared to having the reputation as a book eater years ago, Jesse rarely reads also and I gave thanks that he is so available and present usually. Luckily Lily and Cedar where very occupied and happy playing and making boats from sticks and string so we could tune out.   

My loyal servants. My feet. How did we get here?      

Cedar is gaining confidence in so many things, especially the water. I only thought to give him floaties (water wings) on this trip at my cousins suggestion. It really suits him to feel safe in the water and he’s finally getting wet! On the opposite side of the lake from the “paying a small fortune to swim” section you can find beautiful quiet places to bathe for free!

The walk

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I am drawn out with the soft grey dawn, awakening bird songs lure me into the day. The wind softly guides me up the ridge line walk. I am cocooned in layers of wool like paperbark and I soon enter a walking meditation, every rhythmic step the goal of my experience.
Each footfall quiet and attentive.
my awareness extends, to touch bird melodies and leaf whispers, though I think I am quiet, a walkaby at 50 metres scampers away through the rasping grass.
my soft steps continue the meandering morning path. Pale light and muted colours.
There are fewer melodies up here now. I am dreamily passing blood woods and casuarinas, the old ones, bladed grasses and fallen limbs.
I’m leaving the rumble and play of the creek noises and entering a quieter hillock. I’m present to the sensations of my walking body, swaying limbs as branches and sound chasing.

Until I find myself thinking about journalling my experiences and story.
A chuckle for myself.

This morn I’ve risen chirpy like a wee yellow breasted wren. Nothing will dim my song. My quiet escape fills me with glee.

The landspace subtly shifts and now I have a view over the ridge to the cascading forest across the valley. Each bunch of grey/orange/blue/greenery swaying its own direction. Spun and waltzed by this buffeting wind. Ah this wind! it lifts me high into its embrace,
my face turns and smiles into it like a happy farm dog on the tray of a ute.
Joyous in the face of windy thrills.
my senses open once more and slowly i step along. Observing all the sheoak saplings culled by the last burn off.
I note some of the soft leaved branches will help our fire start this drizzly day. I step over the exposed roots of a large blood wood giving honour as one of the sentinels of the woods. There aren’t many left up here.
Ahh my heart sours, a treasure of fairy pink by my foot print. A solitary pink fairy orchid offers me rain drops from her petals. I delicately catch them and pray with this tiny gift of bush magic. We commune until I am beckoned on, where a forming balga spear has immature flower heads adorning the top foot or so. It is smooth and strong and a wondrous display of natures contrasts. The slender pointy leaves forming a protective cushion below.
I read recently, look under the green growth on wet days, there one can find a cache of dry tinder. I note this also for my fire efforts.
It’s only on my return I notice the balgas grow on the higher ground and I’ve unwittingly left their domain. I’m too hungry to turn back.
I feel drawn on until I can view the little mountain adorned by turtle head rock. Its clear I’m not to wander there this day. The wind tugs and swirls around me. I am expansive and generous in my exchange.
Up here I notice the diverse bird song again, the open woodland carpeted with grasses and granite beds. The balgas grow more prolifically.
I wish I could translate their tunes and calls, but I am not yet a devoted bird nerd.
The day has brightened and my mood with it. This spontaneous solitude nourishing and adding to my collection of stories. I run.
My body fairly hovers downhill pausing only for tinder collecting and slurping rain drops from sheoak fronds as i pass their domain. I run my mouth along a bundle of new growth and catch a small mouthful of plant gathered sky juice.
I return with my happy heart anticipating the smokey perfume and family shawl I shall wear this day.

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