Hail or Hell

Well, here we are again in summer almost tho. The nights are still chilly and the temperature has not yet gone through the roof. It may come….it is not too far away.

After the storm of hail that we had a couple of weeks ago, I thought we might be at the beginning  of the ice age. Violent winds swept through the bamboos and the trees, rain came pelting down with thunder and lightening. But the worst of all was the hail. Big ones. They were almost as big as tennis ball… The whole garden was covered in a blanket of white thick ice. We thought we could have been in the Alps somewhere. Down it came with an almighty force. It pelted down. The noise was deafening. We could not see a few metres in front of us. Having a tin roof….and no cat on it I can assure you, the force was deafening, not even a bird could be seen or heard. The dog screamed to be let in and the chickens took refuge inside their coop. Not a sound could be heard except the roar of the hail. The temperature also fell dramatically and some jumpers  resurfaced for the next few hours.

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In a very short time, the whole garden and property were under ice. We dared walk out after the 20 mns ordeal. It was slippery and the ice from the hail was at least 4 to 5cm thick. We were scared walking around. We had never see anything like this before. The ice under our feet was slippery and treacherous. As we made our way towards the vegetable garden, we were just staggered at the devastation around us. The corn which was ready to pick had been shredded to a pulp. The other veggies were gone and looked as if they had been descended upon by a swarm of locust. Nothing left. The little gherkins which staring to poke through with little yellow flowers broken, hammered, hacked and looked pitiful. And as we made our way around the same spectacle presented itself…devastation everywhere. Then, we noticed a carpet of green on the ground about 2 cm thick, we lifted our head and most trees were also totally defoliated. The force of nature and its brutality suddenly hit us. We were awestruck in front of such calamity. How we could feel for the victims of tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding!  The victims of bush fires and tsunami! We still had our life intact, the damage was only the plants. We were lucky really that nothing worse had happened.

The ice persisted on the ground for 48 hours in big piles around the house. I could go on enumerating the extend of the damage, but there is no point in all that.

Over the next few day, I noticed that some of the zucchini were starting to grow a few leaves, a few vegetables managed to struggle and put new shoots. But the damage had been too great for them to produce anything. So, patiently, I started to prepare a few trays of seedlings and bought a few others. Hopefully, we might gather a few vegetables a little late.

The drought is almost gone. The rain should be replenishing the water tanks for another year so that we would not have to recycle the water too much. The grass has managed to push through a few centimetres and the cows seem to appreciate the fresh shoots poking through. They still bellow at 4 o’clock for extra feed. They are never satisfied…

Today, while in the gallery doing some voluntary work I managed to sit on the bench soaking the warmth of the sun for a few minutes, we can start to feel the first days of summer approaching with lots of rain coming up our way hopefully.

Big spring cleaning is also under at the house. Carpets, jumpers, curtains are all getting a good shake and a wash. Winter clothes are being packed away till next year and summer clothing is already filling the cupboards. Mind you, I’ll have to throw a fair bit away also. Every year, I go through a good clean up of what has not been worn for a while and give it to charity. There are always the ones that I have been reluctant to dispose of. Sentimental value I suppose. But it seems that I go through the same thing every year. This time it is for real… so I say anyway.But the whole lot goes. I spoke to one of the artists at the gallery and she will be taking the odd pieces of silks and cotton that are no longer in use. I am sure Pauline will find a good idea to utilise them.

Well, back to my cleaning and till next time.                 

Water, water, water

A cup of tea by my side, I lay in a warm bed relaxed, warm watching the billions of drops lashing at the windows in front of me. The winds are fierce and gales of up to 50km are bending the bamboos so low I fear they might be uprooted.

Branches are falling everywhere and a mighty casurina branch just fell on the chicken coop. Then, Peter says I should go and cut it off. I look at him, “you are joking I respond with a tinge of anger and bewilderment in that rain and wind? ” I don’t mind he says, then I ignore him and continue knitting. He did not go out in the end. Commonsense prevailed. But he did go out to make sure that the tremendous amount of water that was rushing down the drive did not cause too many ruts. So in the rain he went, digging along it to ensure that if followed the path intended and cleaned all the bamboos leaves clogging it. All that in lashing rain…The chooks were fed and made secure. Yes, Peter, love the water!

The rain comes in an incline of 45 o steady, very steady. In fact it has not stopped for the last 72 h. I do mean non stop. No respite, not for one second.

The valley and the mountain across are shrouded in a blanket of white cloud. Opaque and impenetrable. The sound on the roof can be at times quite heavy. It resonates on the tin roof and is deafening.

Birds are away, not a peep, where are they all? I am sure they are hidden somewhere, wet and bedraggled. Then, little cheeky butcher birds, the resident pet ones that I feed regularly…oh by the way they have have brought in 2 new babies. They chirp incessantly on the veranda. The four of them take turn to beg for food. In that storm that has been lashing out they come and perch on the veranda and just sit there dry and safe, a nice refuge. They do not want to move. They are not scared. They do not even want any food, just safe and protected from the water. They are wet very wet. So, they all comfortably standing, I look at the baby ones, they are just starting to take their own food, they are not sure what to do yet. Should they go on the ground to pick the little piece of beef that I just thrown, not sure of that one…waiting for mum or dad to feed them might not happen, so he just dives on the floor and chirping like mad looks at the meat…keeps looking not sure what to do. In the meantime, mum or dad, still perched on the balustrade watch and do not move, not a movement. Still stridently tweeting, he still hesitate looking at the piece not knowing how to proceed, but hunger gets to him and he hops closer and closer and still noisily is sitting 20 cm away. What should I do with this tempting morsel? Another couple of seconds staring at it, then finally it is not happening, nobody is going to hand it to him, so he precipitously pounce on it and flies away. He has made his first step in feeding himself under the watchful eye of mum who did move an inch, but just watched totally unconcerned or so it seemed.

The bamboos are now at a 90o angle and being lashed by the rain. It is coming down and down and down. The valley is totally under water which is gushing, transporting with it branches and debris. The 2 causeways along our road have broken their banks and water floods the road. Dangerous, as one does not see the dead trunks or other debris that are stuck in the middle of the bridge. One can get stuck quite easily.

Yesterday , as I was on voluntary roster duty at the local Nimbin Artists Gallery, (see our Facebook page) it was touch and go…will I close early? No, I’ll hang in there for a while. Then, Peter rings me and says that the bridge might overflow any moment and I might be stuck. I was still not decided. So, I waited for a a little while longer. Rain still pouring down in tons in the village also. A few hours later, another phone call, Peter was desperate, “Gigi. it is touch and go…” “ok said I.” It was 14.30h. Come and pick me up. I closed the gallery and we headed back home.

The water tanks are overflowing, the creek is over our little causeway is closing our drive, the cows are stuck on one side and they are not going across it….it is running fast. I suspect the calves will not attempt to cross, they might get stuck. But so far, the animals are safe but the drive is for the time being difficult to navigate just at the causeway. If the rain eases for a while it should be fine. But according to the latest forecast not in the immediate. Another 3 days of torrential lashing out of rain . The cows are very clever, they came up right to the top away from the flood down the property.

Well, as long as we are safe it is a good time to catch up on the little jobs around the house and a little more knitting and listening to a couple of audiobooks at the same time.

I was interrupted as we had more than 25h of power cut. Dinner by candle lights of course, plus heaps of candles everywhere. No water, not hot water, no shower…yes, we do smell a little. Heaps of frozen food might be perished in the freezer. Have not checked yet. Of course no internet, no phone. How weird to be cut off from everyone. but it was nice very nice as we relearned some basic ways of just being. Then, something happened the huge clump of bamboo by the entrance of the main gate decided to keel over and it did. CRASH! across the portal down the drive. and we could not get out. easy, peter said, let ‘s get the chainsaw and hack it down in pieces. There were about 40 branches. That was under torrential rains. The winds and rain were so strong that we seriously hesitated…but the chainsaw decided also to give up. It just would not start, so drove back up in the heavy rain and wind. I thought the mobile could be used and rang a friend who was not able to make it. He was also under water and could not get out of his drive. Tomorrow will do. There was nothing that could be done right now.

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Next day, still no electricity for the whole morning. We managed to get a neighbour with a chain saw and he debited the 40 clumps in a wink of an eye. Peter and I managed to lift the heavy pieces from across the fence and the gate. Free at last. Now we could at least get out of the house. The sun was shining but the humidity was intolerable. AT least dry for a while before the next phase of rain. Not today tho. The bridge down the road were also flooded with huge and massive trunks on the road. We could not lift any of that. No way ! But some gentle soul did it for us and for all the dwellers on our street.

In the meantime, the garden was being super productive. Zucchinis shot up after a few days of non stop rain and the bananas were ripe for the picking as well as the pimentos.IMG_0274IMG_0272

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The worse affected part of the country is 200 km north of where we are. Some parts of Queensland have been declared catastrophe areas. So many people in troubles with the rains, the fires, the tornadoes, these elements of nature are totally unforgiving.