24 Jun 2015

portraits

(of a moment beautifully ordinary, odd, wondrous to remember always)
Reuben: "Look what I found in the garden mama - a fire flower!" Oh I say, the most amazing nasturtium blooms and still alive in midwinter...

Beren: during his first visit to the chickens at five weeks old, safe view from under dad's coat...
Reuben: "Mama... heeelp... I need you to help me clean it up"... the do-I-look-guilty-of-something-truly-mishevious?" face - you know, like scatter the contents of container of tapioca flour through the house!

Beren: decides on a cold winter's morning this is the best place to be; wrapped up warm in bed on mama's knees...

21 Jun 2015

solstice

today was a perfectly lovely shortest-day-of-the-year - 
it was cold, so very cold
but it was radiantly blue
crisp, sun-soaked

I woke to the uncomfortable snuffling of my baby's congested nose (poor lad)
and the knowledge that my parents were asleep in the spare room
that a happy day awaited us - 
sunday morning pancakes,
cuddles, conversation,
paella, slow pace,

late morning, I walked up those hills you see in the first picture
I watched lambs frolicking
 and wrapped my scarf around my ears
I felt alive and well,
and so thankful for fresh air,
for kin, Creator -

later the boy and I planted 
the little pansies a friend gifted us
and we inspected the garden, 
cypress green
spring onion shoots
curly worms

through the window we spied the babe 
warm, still sleeping -

for such a cold day 
we spent a lot of it outdoors,
and it was the best shortest-day we've had.

18 Jun 2015

frosted

we wake to the chill
outside the world is
patterned with 
white
frosted breath
the still
and the screech 
of birds flying,
the smell
freshness, grassy -

the sun sparkles
off leaf and blade of grass
feet crunch and
nose drip 
drips

most days are not
dusted as beautifully
most are grey and damp
cloudy headed
undecided -

it's strange how 
the colder days
are the clearer ones, 
the crisper ones
and 
the season 
has only just begun.

8 Jun 2015

the birthing of beren argyle

On the afternoon of my due date we took a walk up the big hill behind a friend's property. From the top you can see out in all directions, the highs and lows, bends, boulders, hills, forests of our part of the country. We are new to this place but its felt like home from the moment we arrived. Something I can't explain, a feeling maybe, a history in my blood of the farming folk who settled here years and years ago, or before that to the indigenous peoples - a love for earth, space and open sky... my mum took my portrait from the top of that hill, and I'm glad she did - the ripeness, the expectancy. More than anything I remember feeling peaceful that baby would come when he's ready, and he did three days later.

It was Wednesday morning, April 8th. I was 40 + 3 weeks with child, and it was the day our 300 broiler (meat) chicks were arriving. Alex's alarm went off at 6am and I roused myself from light sleep. I felt a dull cramping ache in my belly and a pressure - an urge to visit the loo. On returning, I curled up around Alex under the warm sheets and lay there wondering about this sensation I felt - those cramps - getting stronger, then tapering off, going away altogether, beginning again. I breathed deeply and kissed that man beside me. Was I in labour I asked. Are you? Let's see where it goes...

Alex drove off to do morning chores and I began on breakfast; porridge, rice sourdough toast, scrambled eggs, a plunger of coffee, a pot of earl grey tea... Reuben woke and I hugged him tight. Every few minutes I had contractions - rushes of crampy pain - I began to time them and jot them down on a piece of paper... six minutes apart... five minutes... five minutes... four minutes...  regular, anticipated, increasing in force - I held onto the edge of the kitchen table and bent my head down to breathe. I think the baby's coming I told Reuben.

When Alex came home we breakfasted. Then we decided to call the midwife - and she agreed that we should come into the hospital. Alex collected his parents who were staying nearby so they could watch over Reuben while we were gone. I packed my bags and pillow into the car. I looked up into the sky and saw a big arching rainbow through the clouds. A promise I thought, of what's to come... 

We got in the car and began the twenty minute drive into town. I clutched my pillow as we drove those familiar winding roads, and we listened to the birth playlist... I remember gazing out at the landscape and feeling comforted, excited at the thought of meeting our baby. We talked and laughed. 

We arrived at our small country-town hospital and went directly to the birth room. It was 9am. One of my midwives, Helen, was there getting things ready. She began running a bath at my request so I could labour in warm water. I lay back on the bed as she lay hands on my belly, trying to work out where baby's head was positioned. She was having trouble, he was so low down - all she could feel were limbs. Gently she examined me - I was already 6cm dilated and thin, really to have this baby soon. 

I went into the bathroom, my waters broke soon after. I remember undressing and looking at my heavily pregnant body, with tummy so full and tight with child, my hair was still neatly braided up. I got into the bath and that warm water washed over me. It soothed. I was left alone in there for a while - another midwife came in and introduced herself. Alex hooked up our music - Alt J, Sufjan, Sigur Ros, Tazie chants, Iron & Wine, Boy and Bear, Radiohead, Cornor Orbest, Sixteen Horsepower... 

My contractions became more intense. Alex came and sat by the edge of bath, I lay my head on his arm and moaned and breathed through the pain. He stroked my face. I was transitioning and the pressure was increasing. I felt unstable floating in the water, I needed to get out. so I did. I leaned onto a gym ball on the bathroom floor, dazed, breathing hard, moaning for relief. Alex put pressure on my lower back and reminded me to make low sounds, to keep breathing. I remember my mum calling, talking to me on the phone - encouraging, loving me from afar - I think we were both weepy - our spirits close and vulnerable, I told her that it hurt so much... 

Then the desire to push came quickly, forcefully -
I felt scared for a moment -
then I let go, I had to -
prayed a silent prayer,
I followed my body's call,
the midwife urging me to push,
and it burned like fire -
I was leaning into Alex when baby's head emerged,
just as I had done with Reuben,
not that we planned it 
it just seemed the right place to hold myself -
a head, I felt it
and the longest minute
waiting for the next contraction to push the rest of him out,
and ah, oh, a beautiful body
a pink boy hollering for me,
dark haired and lovely.
It was 10.01am.
Throughout the pregnancy my midwives and doctor thought the baby would not be so big, but when he came he was a fairly decent 8 pounds 7 ounces. He actually looked robust, muscular, with big strong hands and eyes that could fix on faces. It's hard to describe, but he felt more mature that my first baby, already wise to life out of the womb. I guess we were older and wiser too. 

His name - Beren Argygle - was picked out months ago. We always imagined Beren as a dark haired baby so when he came with that crop of dark brown we were decided. Beren is an old-English name that means "brave" but is also a nod to our shared love of Tolkein and fantasy. Argyle is Scottish and refers to the west coast of Scotland - which I was able to see years ago, and fell in love with. It is a homage to our shared Scottish ancestry and to the history of the area which we now live and farm on. The Scots were some of first farmers of this land, and I think would have felt at home among the rocks and boulders and windswept hills... 
It all went so quickly - from moment of waking that morning to meeting my babe a few hours later. I am asked if it was easier than my first birth - and it wasn't, it was different. In many ways I felt more peaceful when labour progressed a bit slower with Reuben, and this time I felt a kind of shock by the brevity and intensity of it...

But there is nothing so lovely and good in all the world as holding that baby against your chest and those eyes squinting open at you, and breathing him in. To know a tiny child already so well, but to first meet him face to face...

4 Jun 2015

baby knits

I love hand knits for babies - those tiny sizes, natural fibres, cozy softness, handmade imperfections... as we head into winter Beren's collection of woollens grows, some passed down from his older brother, some made by mama and others by clever grandmas and friends. I have two more hats and a sweater on the needles as we speak. I've found overalls and rompers are especially good at keeping baby that bit warmer cold nights and early morning outings... and I like how quick a cardigan or hat brightens up an outfit - now if only I could keep his older brother from taking them off! 

21 May 2015

autumn leaves

she's almost gone you know,
autumn, my season -

I catch the last glimpses of her
through the vineyard,
I feel her on my skin
a crisp, but not cold,
in the mornings -
a gentle warmth 
in the afternoon -

she has been a time of preparation,
production,
of harvest, birth -

soap is cured and wrapped
jars of caramel-coloured honey wait to consumed,
herbs, whole chickens, livers, stock bones fill the freezer,

the autumn garden, which was so prolific
a month ago, now grows slowly,
flowers begin to fade, seedlings 
brave the rain and damp -
slugs eat holes in my cabbages,
frost tickles the hills around us

roads are dotted every so often
with oaks
and poplars and plain trees
golden, undressing, unleaving -

I'm not ready for the next season I say to her
I'm not ready for you to slip off 
the horizon,
I'm not ready to wait a year -

you whisper softly 
(as you always do)
you must,

time to recollect ourselves, 
slow down, wrap up,
nourish body and soul,
and winter. 




p.s. our raw honey and cold-process soaps can be found here for sale

17 May 2015

portraits

(of a moment beautifully ordinary, odd, wondrous to remember always)
Reuben speaks with shining hazel eyes in loud, delighted tones at the Malmsbury Botanical Gardens: "Mamma! I've been exploring "the Lion" (island)... yes, it's a very nice Lion"...

Beren sleeps wrapped up warm on the big bed, with the clatter and clang of mama in the nearby kitchen, with the squawks and sounds of his older brother at play, with the bathroom fan or vacuum cleaner humming, he sleeps sound...
Reuben takes to the new sandpit immediately and no bad weather will deter him, on this particular occasion he is joined through the fence by his friend "sheepy"...

Beren, with his old english name and his dark blue eyes and sometimes furrowed brow, ponders this new life on the outside...

7 May 2015

still life

though life is seldom still these days
each moment, each thought
is full to the brim,

the dishes and laundry gather daily
in mountains
to soak or scrub or put away
sometimes I let them go
to hold my sleeping babe
or push a racing car along the table

I am learning how to balance
the needs of my kin,
mostly I am overwhelmed by it -
the constant call, stretch and pull;
in a day it is possible to feel
ordered, disorganised, frazzled,
energised, able, defeated,
lonely, accompanied, humbled

but my heart is fuller and
more thankful than it's ever been,

sickness hangs around the house
me feverish and delirious
with a nasty bout of mastitis
then in hospital for two days,
followed by colds, runny noses
and throats raw with swallowing,

so we make more ferments
fennel and cabbage kraut,
cranberry and ginger kombucha,
a bucket of raw honey water for mead -

the wind beats the house at night
and in the morning we fumble for socks
discovering the very cool climes of winter
are indeed coming -

when I feel sun on my cheeks
I praise the heavens,
thanksgiving for our snow peas
and silverbeet, parsley leaves
we dig for potatoes and fill
a bucket with delicious,
soil-dusted gold -

we dispatch our first thirty four
truly free-range pastured chickens,
(feathers, guts and all)
we celebrate with a roast -
it is the sweetest, juiciest bird
and I am brimming with pride
for my farmer man who raised it,

we catch a dozen mice,
we are gifted with child-minding
soup, cups of tea, conversation,
we curl up in bed and read,

I pick the last blooms
of this autumn garden;
a promise of what comes after the cold

19 Apr 2015

babymoon

eleven days old
and as many days
a mama of two
beautiful sons

so grateful for a time
of homebound, quietness
help and cups of tea

remembering the long nights
and short days, leaky,
jelly-tummy, sleepy, 
all over soreness

relishing those milk-drunk smiles,
grunts and sighs -
tender caresses of a big brother

for midwives visits,
for family, friends
fresh flowers, sunshine
rain in the night, warmth
by the fireside

small accomplishments -
a hair wash, a batch of bread
and various one-handed manoeuvres

and tears, oh so many
of tiredness and joy -
overwhelm, 

in short -
thanksgiving for a healthy, 
love-filled, beginning

xx