How do you feel when the very thing you love feels like it has turned its back on you?
We live in the most magnificent place, a place where I look out and say ‘thank you’ and give so much gratitude everyday for this beauty before my eyes.
Our organic vegetable gardens were looking incredible; one of our suppliers had just visited the day before and said, “Wow, this garden is looking absolutely amazing, keep doing what you are doing. I have not seen anyone still growing brassica’s this late in the season (broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower).”
Our first corn was sprouting, our garlic a month off harvest after its almost 12 month growth cycle, our butter beans ready to harvest but never tasted, soy beans a plenty, rare wasabi rocket just planted, ochra flourishing, endless flowers of cosmos and marigold brilliant in their yellows and oranges and the beautiful flowers from those plants already gone to seed but stunning in their white, purple and green.
In the last few days there was so much life in our garden, there were bees in abundance, almost like we had purposefully placed them. So many varieties of ladybugs, spiders weaving their webs from one planter bed to the next, dragonflies swooping in with food a plenty, fat worms thriving in the soil.
After 10 months of building our magnificent garden, I felt so much satisfaction in knowing we had created a real living-breathing ecosystem, filled with plants and animals all living and working in harmony together. Everything was thriving, I was learning so much everyday. The ever-encouraging Hayley, who reminded me of nature’s balance and how we need the good and the bad to work together, quickly shut down my little worries about the bad bugs. Without one you don’t have the other.
It was a gorgeous Sunday in November, a spectacularly hot day, we had friends coming around to enjoy the afternoon and have an early dinner. We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon on the lawn, followed by a tour of the garden and cooking school. Within about 10 minutes the rain began, and we made a quick dash to get everything undercover, the table set beautifully outside had to be dismantled. There was a problem though, our beautiful little Sasa cat was missing, my girlfriend and I ran through the rain and lightening to try and find her, both my daughter’s anxiously waiting, the weather was coming in hard, it was now too dangerous to be outside.
What then hit with incredible ferocity was a hailstorm out of nowhere, the sound on the tin roof was deafening and the strength and size of the hailstones increasing. There was a state of panic inside, our girls inconsolable and so frightened about the storm and fear for our beautiful little cat now missing, and our neighbour’s daughter terribly distraught about her horses also out in the middle of this terrible storm.
Whilst all of this was happening, a huge gust of wind was felt down the hall, only to discover the windows on my daughter’s bedroom smashed, her carpet saturated, and us now needing to stand and hold the door shut as the wind tried to rip it open out of our hands. Another window then smashed in our living room, the roof from the previous hails damage only 2 months ago, now leaking in 3 rooms of the house. Electricity gone, no running water and dinner not yet cooked.
Holding yourself together through what was the worst storm I’ve seen, and remaining strong and positive for your kids, really needs you to dig deep. This really rattled me, I felt like our house was going to cave under the enormity, and there was nothing we could do, just stand together with our friends and get each other through it.
With a break in the intensity, we all sighed a breath of relief; we quickly pulled back the balcony door in case our precious little cat would make her way back to us. After about 10 minutes the girls heard a tiny ‘meow’ coming from the door, she was there, sopping wet but safe and tears of joy overcame us, we lost her sister a year ago in the first storm we experienced here, we definitely could not go through that again.
As the storm started to pull back a little, we managed to get the gas working and made dinner, sitting together and recounting the last few hours, in utter shock as to what we had just experienced. We set the girls up in our room, the fear for them to be alone to sleep was not option, and we bunkered down and watched and slept as the lightening, thunder and rain continued throughout the night.
Tomorrow was to be a new day…
I awoke in the morning to see what looked like a war zone outside, leaves, and branches everywhere. Our magnolia hedges stripped of every leaf on them, our fig tree just a shadow of its majestic self from the day before, our gardenias, which were in incredible bloom now just sticks.
We raced down to check the cattle and their babies, to our relief all was well and they managed to find protection in the clumps of trees. The chickens, although sopping wet, were very chatty and happy to pop their heads out and roam through the destruction, another sigh of relief.
As I wandered up the paddock to my beautiful vegetable garden, my heart in my throat, I knew it was going to be bad, the shortened breaths getting more intense. As I looked over the fence, the immensity of the devastation overwhelmed me. Not knowing where to look and hoping something may have survived, it was heartbreaking. Every plant looked like they had been whipped and slashed; there were bits of the garden everywhere. The broccoli the only thing still partially standing and everything else shredded.
Trying not to allow my thoughts to travel back but just a day, to the garden in its absolute magnificence and splendor, a creation we had worked on so hard over the past 12 months. And to have just one storm rip through and wipe it all out in just such a short space of time.
Tears overwhelmed me; we would have to start all over again.
So much has happened over this past 18 months, and reminders there are no constants, life is ever changing, and challenges will always be there. This is just another one, one I cannot control and I need to gather my inner strength and battle on.
It will never change my love of the country, but it has taught me once again – the power of this amazing universe in which we live.
Let the rebuild begin.