Archive for the ‘what to do?’ Category


Earlier this week, at short notice, and after some watering and pruning and a little stroking of leaves, I put into three polystyrene boxes: 71 grey box, 18 Victorian blue gums, three red stringybarks, two manna gums, and nine messmates, which I then left as instructed on our front porch. The next morning they were gone, 103 seedlings. Off to be planted in the wilds of Pyalong West. Out in the real world. We still have about two and half boxes of smaller seedlings or seeds in the back garden, but our lush little forest has gone. I would have taken a photo except that I  broke the camera (or at least it went into a karmic seizure) after a traffic altercation in Tasmania (the less said the better) earlier this year. So, no photos, and no goodbyes to speak of. And it feels oddly empty.

Really, there should have been a lot more of them, but apparently everyone’s been having trouble this year, and last. Too hot. Too dry. Too erratic. I’d like to think that some of them will one day grow into very large trees. And I do feel quite proud to have got them this far. I was thinking today, as I tend to, about what a bad blogger I’ve been, and what a bad planter of trees (etc. etc.) and then I thought, good god woman, give yourself a break – you may not plant a tree every day, but you plant a lot more than you used to! And I also thought about how I am the sort of person who sets myself hard tasks and then makes them infinitely harder by berating myself for not having achieved them. Some days I feel that all I am doing is ticking off a great to-do list that I add to endlessly, and for which I rarely thank or congratulate myself. And because I now understand that this is not only ineffective but ungentle, I am trying to change the way I am with things and with myself. But the strange thing about all those seedlings was that although they started off as another task (and some days remained so)  some days I would be standing out there in the cold, gently drizzling each plant tube with water from the portable sprayer we got for $8 from Bunnings, and all of a sudden I would find myself in a sort of trance, almost ecstatic. Full of love.


Read Full Post »

Here’s me at the park planting a tree (on what turned out to be the old tip).

digging a hole

Sadly, when I went back a few days later this particular seedling had been dug or pulled up and was very dead. But the other two were still looking quite perky. I am fighting, or at least largely ignoring, feelings of futility. And I am not nearly as prolific as I’d imagined I’d be. But in the end I’ll probably just keep sticking trees in the ground and who knows what then? If I ever have my own house again, with a garden, I want a fig tree and a mulberry tree and a locquat tree in the front. And out the back, eucalypts, which are surely the most languid and beautiful of all trees, and move as if they are under water.

And here I am with Finn.

Finn and me, digging

Read Full Post »


Many years ago, the first time I went to see a counsellor, she listened for some time and then asked, “Are you, by any chance, Catholic?”

“No,” I replied.


“No,” I said again (I could see now where she was going). “Just guilty.”

Which is a drawn out way of saying I have been feeling very shitty for not having written for so long. And of course the shittier I felt, the less I felt like writing. And so on. And then of course I thought I’d wait until I’d done something really good so that I could write about it (maybe I am Catholic…). But instead, I let everything slide. Meanwhile, my poor plants (the ones I bought at the nursery and didn’t get around to planting before going on holidays) started going brown on the leaves, either from too much water or too little, and the worse they looked, the less i could look at them, and the more I didn’t plant them, and after a while I just wanted them all to die so I could chuck them out and forget about the whole thing.

I’d like to be able to say I’ve since gone out and planted them all, or even one, but I haven’t. They’re still sitting there looking wan, and probably pot-bound. And I’m still too scared to check in case I’ve left it too late. But it has made me think about how easy it is to let things slide – or rather, how hard it is to stop the slide once it has begun. Because of course that means having to admit to yourself what you have done.

And that made me think too about how easy it is to judge other people for what they have and haven’t done. I won’t go on, as I know this is threatening to become an episode of The Waltons. But I plan to have a proper look at them on the weekend and either plant them or put them out of their (my) misery.

In the meantime, we have planted more seeds (red stringybark I think) and are busily spraying our Tree Project seedlings with a milk and water solution to fend off the mildew. And the two seedlings I planted in the nature strip at the end of our street are still alive – though someone has stolen their stakes, and I have a bad feeling they might disappear the next time the strip gets mowed.


Read Full Post »

Woke yesterday and opened the paper to find this  article from the UK Telegraph on page 13. It can be summarised pretty much as “the end is nigh”.

“THE world’s leading scientists have issued a desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change amid warnings that without action the world faces decades of social unrest and war.

In what was described as a watershed moment, more than 2500 leading environmental experts agreed on a statement that called on governments to act before the planet becomes an unrecognisable — and, in places, impossible — place to live.

At an emergency climate summit in Copenhagen, scientists agreed that “worst case” scenarios were already becoming reality and that, unless drastic action was taken soon, “dangerous climate change” was imminent.”

As you can imagine, this cheered me right up, particularly given that the lead story on page one was devoted to the rather less important fact that the band Split Enz was re-forming for last night’s big bushfire benefit concert.  I think it would be accurate to say I felt DESPAIRING!

Fortunately, by this evening, when I heard  that the emergency services units that were two weeks ago fighting bush fires are now stationed around the state preparing for landslides and flash flooding, I had recovered my sense of humour (or at least of the ridiculous) (or at least a little).  Meanwhile, the rain has flushed ash into our reservoirs (not good for drinking) without managing to lift our water levels.

On the bright side (yes!), today I visited the Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Co-operative, which is tucked away in a corner of Yarra Bend Park, and bought 30 seedlings of Eucalyptus leucoxylon, which not only has sweet flowers, but thrives on sun and dry soil and tolerates drought. I’d planned to buy 50, but at $3.95 a pop, settled for 30, for now. And late this afternoon, I dragged Pete and Frannie to the end of our street and a rather barren nature

bald nature striprather barren nature strip

strip I’ve been eyeing off where we dug two good sized holes and planted two slender scraps of green and a third on the opposite nature strip. Like so:

number 4

They looked very small as we walked away.

Read Full Post »


At work I spent too much of the day editing an essay on climate change and fossil fuels. It was so full of detail and so bleak that by the time I left I felt sick with it all. That’s one of the problems with journalism; there’s no getting away from it. I walked back from the station in the rain thinking apocalyptic thoughts. And when I got home, Pete led me outside and pointed to the five containers planted with eucalyptus seeds, only one of which has sprouted. At first I could see nothing different. And then in one of the tubes in one of the containers an infinitesimal dot of green. And then another.

Back inside, I said to my son, “What’s that thing I say to you when you say that everything’s shit and nothing good’s ever going to happen again?”

“Um. Everything’s going to be alright?”

“No, not that! I mean about thoughts.'”

“Oh. Your thinking affects your feelings affects the way you act.”

“You are wise beyond your years!” I said (or words to this effect).

When I looked at the Age website, I saw this photo:


And then an article that said it was snowing in the Victorian alps.

“Mount Hotham Skiing Company senior marketing executive Caroline Wheatley described it as a ‘very light dusting’ of snow.

‘We woke up to it, it was a beautiful scene of flecks falling down. It was quite surprising to see that,’ she said.”


Read Full Post »