Wish

I think I’m a little superstitious, perhaps more than a little. I remember being told by my Nana that I should never walk under a ladder as it was unlucky – and I still avoid doing so. If I spilt salt it had to be thrown over my left shoulder, into the eye of the devil. When out walking in the English countryside, we would often pass through ‘wishing gates’ – small gates for people on foot, where the gate swings in an arc inside an arc of fencing. I still wish each time I pass through one of these, although it’s normally a frivolous ‘wish’ relating to my current circumstances rather than a wish for world peace.

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We used to greedily search through the carcass of the roasted chicken dinner, not for more meat, but for the wishing bone. Then when it was dry, a day or so later, two of us would link our pinky fingers around the two ends of the fragile bone and pull till it snapped. The person with the larger piece of bone would make a wish.

And then of course there was the birthday wishes upon blowing out the candles on the birthday cake.

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Which Way?

As 2016 draws to a close I reflect on the past year and wonder what the future holds for us. What path are we on, have we chosen the right path, and if we go the wrong way will we be able to navigate through or turn back to a better course?

Sometimes it isn’t obvious which is the right path, but normally we do know when we have gone off course and are going the wrong way. I fear that at the moment the world is certainly following a path to a very uncertain future.

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The Yorkshire Dales

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Surf Life Saving Summers

Summer for my daughter, was the time for surf life saving. Every Sunday morning we’d go to the club at our local beach regardless of weather conditions.There was ocean swimming, board races, beach sprinting, surf rescue, relays races and  fitness, safety and first aid training.

The first few weeks were normally chilly, the Indian Ocean had not yet had time to warm up after winter and the occasional cold front would still sweep in with grey stormy skies, big waves and swell blowing onshore. The really younger ‘nippers’ wouldn’t venture into the surf unless a barrage of parents were on hand to help out and encourage, even the adults weren’t too keen to brave the elements.

Then the summer would start. Uninterrupted blue skies, blue seas and white sand that by mid morning was too hot to stand on. 

As the years progressed some of the older children took on roles of leadership and mentorship of the younger ones. They became the ones that coached the younger ‘nippers’. There were also competitions and rivalry, but more importantly cooperation and team building.

As I now look back on those long summers and look at the my daughter, I’m grateful for the opportunities surf life saving was and still is able to offer.

 

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Competition Time

Waiting for the person doing the ‘swim leg’ of the rescue to reach the buoy before she can paddled out to ‘rescue’ them.

 

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Who’s been stealing my grapes?

Last year it was the fruit rats. And the year before. And the year before that …

We had initially thought that it was birds though and I spent hours going through old CDs for the ones I didn’t want or need, and then hanging them with shiny Christmas ribbon in the hope that as they danced in the breeze the reflection and movement would scare the birds away.

It didn’t happen. However brilliant the idea, it was never going to save the grapes.

As we waited for the grapes to grow large and succulent and turn deep red in the hot summer sun, so too the rats waited. I remember last summer the tomatoes had survived, so maybe the rats weren’t around? Each day I’d go and check on my crops and put off harvesting for just one more day of ripening and developing flavour.

But that one day was crucial. How could so many bunches disappear in one night? Exactly how many rats were there? It seemed impossible that they could feast on so many grapes and not be lying in a overindulgent heap on the ground the next day. Instead the ground was littered with the remains.

 

So this year the grapes were still green and the vine was prolific. We’d never had so many bunches before. I was optimistic that we would finally get to taste them or, dare I say, eat some. The grapes were still at least a couple of weeks from ripening when I saw the debris, a few discarded grape skins and stems scattered on the ground at my feet.

Was it the unusually hot weather causing the rats to change their eating behaviour? Did they now like the unripened grapes or were they simply trying to make sure they were one step ahead of me?  The following day the mess below the vines was worse and the day after that more grapes had been plundered.

Should I get a cat? My dog would not like that. I scoured the internet for fruit rat deterrents, to no avail. The next morning as I sat on my deck pondering and drinking my first cup of tea for the day, a noisy chatter and fluttering of wings announced their arrival. Right there in front of me, not two meters away, the thieves flaunted themselves, hanging upsidedown and sideways, defying gravity and eating my bloody grapes. Their screeching and whirring was incessant and even when I stood directly underneath them they were so confident they were reluctant to leave their morning fruit platter.

I’ve resigned myself to sharing my food with the ‘neighbours’. Even though they are a pest, they bring  colour, vibrancy and life. Again I pondered at how with their beauty I allow them to feast, whereas had it been the not so beautiful rat what would I have done?

I wonder is this a parable to how we treat people differently according to their outward appearance?

 

The rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) is a declared pest in Western Australia (WA). It is a small, brightly coloured parrot that was introduced to WA during the 1960s.

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