Month: February 2021

Not just red, but pink, peach – and orange!

Red flowering eucalypts are renowned for their colour range, and our garden can almost boast the full palette, especially now John has successfully nurtured a stunning orange-flowering variety from seed collected from Bruny Island.

We spotted the tree in full flower while on our way back to the car after an exhilarating Pennicott tour experience about three years ago spotting seals, whales, seabirds and the ancient dolorite rock formation that is characteristic of so much of Tasmania’s south-west. The voucher for this trip had been won on a silent auction fundraiser to support the victims of an earthquake in Nepal some months previously, and we had only weeks to use it before it expired.

The tree was in someone’s garden, and close to the fence but as nobody seemed to be around, and the gate was open, it was a matter of moments to briefly trespass in order to quickly search for some seed pods that hadn’t already split and spilt their seed. I took several photos – but all were lost unfortunately when the phone died before I had transferred them all to the computer. A sharp reminder that a regular regime for back-ups and downloads really does need to be maintained and adhered to.

We had no idea if the seed would be viable, but John studied the books, checked what germination method was needed and worked his green-fingered magic, and in due course tiny green shoots were visible in three or four pots. Sadly, some later died during that winter. We were away for several weeks and our house-sitter failed to water them, or forgot to water them, leaving us with just two fragile seedlings one of which looked seriously unwell.

Both survived though and were re-potted until they eventually grew to the point where they could be transferred from pots to ground. Despite flowering for the first time this year, the least healthy tree really shouldn’t be in flower at all as it’s still too young. An indication it’s struggling perhaps, but at least we know that the flowers will be the same colour as its parent – that rich and vibrant orange we were so stunned by on Bruny. The bees absolutely love them!

As for the other tree, it’s taller and looks much healthier, but there’s no sign of a flower. Next year though the story is likely to be quite different.

Setting writing goals

So this is the plan, and as I’ve now articulated it several times – most recently at the resurrected Write Here meeting last weekend – there’s a lot more incentive to stick to the timeline I’ve set myself, and actually achieve it. Or else be shamed into having to confess I failed.

My 2021 calendar and dairy therefore now show the first three days of each week are to be devoted to writing. Notwithstanding life’s unexpected spanners occasionally. And not just writing The Book, since the bread and butter article writing cannot be ignored, but my aim is to be considerably more disciplined about the whole task ahead, and considerably less available to distractions – however pleasurable or tempting invitations to do this or meet for that may be.

So far so good, (but let’s not get too excited; it’s only early February after all) and I feel on track to meet the first milestone in my year-long pact with myself to have the first draft of this book completed by the end of December. But long before that moment arrives my mentor will give initial – and probably brutal – feedback when I’ve completed the first 20,000 words. Goal number one therefore is to reach this target by the end of the month.

Two, or perhaps three months after that I’ll present her with the next 20,000 words. And so on. How many words do I envisage this book will be? How long is a piece of string: I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure I’ll know when I’ve reached The End.

I had a light bulb moment a week or so back while racking my brain to remember when certain actions and events occurred. Eventually I established a clippings archive and so can check these things in the boxes of pulp mill-related news items, letters and articles. But in the early days it never occurred to me to keep such things. Bad move, but then again, who knew in the beginning how important it might be to hang on to them.

But while I might not have the newsprint, I had copies of letters and emails written to my Mum, and to UK- and WA-based friends. I cannot really explain why I chose to keep copies of my weekly letters home, but since writing these missives on the computer, rather than by hand, I had done so. They were the equivalent of a journal, or diary I suppose, and documented our day-to-day activities and life’s ups and downs on the flower farm, at school, and – increasingly during the years of the campaign – opposing the pulp mill.

Pulling these files down from the cupboard and flipping through them has certainly stirred some memories, as well as confirmed a few key dates. These letters have also made achieving that target a lot easier; why reinvent the wheel when the description has already been written, and with an immediacy and a freshness it would be hard to replicate so many years on.

There was certainly no expectation that decision to keep copies – a decision I would have been hard-pressed to explain to myself even then – would ever prove to be so invaluable for the years that spanned the pulp mill campaign. But I’m certainly now thanking my younger self for doing so.

Photo credit: Garry Stannus