It was a teasing start to spring in Tasmania, with several weeks that lurched between glorious sunshine one day and snow the next. I got a little over-excited when we finally had a few warm days in a row, and put all our winter clothes away in the cupboard. Goodbye to those puff jackets and Ugg boots for another year, I thought to myself with glee. The next week I was hauling them right back out again.
Now the warm weather has arrived for good though (crosses fingers tightly) we’re taking full advantage of it. Despite applying copious amounts of Factor 50 every time we leave the house, I’ve already had my first sunburn, and DorkySon is taking every opportunity to swim in the river. First time in, he was fully clothed. Second time round he was better prepared, with beach clothes and a bodyboard, but a rogue wave washed a pebble into his ear and the resulting pain cut his adventure short.
No worries: with the official start of summer this Friday, I’m confident there will be more swimming days ahead.
I’m also hoping for more days where it’s warm and dry enough to get out and exercise. Isn’t it funny how bodies work? Last winter, the evidence of my love for red wine and lasagne showed around my belly. This winter it has appeared as a couple of extra chins. Ach well. I’ve been for my first couple of jogging sessions this week, just ten minutes at a time, but it’s fun to get back into it.
We are in a very quiet spell just now as DorkyDad recovers from shoulder surgery. I will spare you the gory details, but he is in a sling, and progress is steady but slow. So far it has been five weeks off work, and basic tasks like eating, typing, writing and dressing are still a challenge. Driving is still a few weeks away, and as for chopping firewood and playing golf…. We are holding those in our thoughts as something to aim for in 2018.
For now it is ice, heat, regular pain meds, weekly physio, and deep gratitude for the number of sports channels that are included in our Foxtel package. DorkyDad is an absolute champ – he is striking exactly the right balance between patience and determination, and we are all maintaining a sense of humour. But we miss hugging, and cooking together, and all the other things you take for granted when you have two working arms.
The garden is also much neglected. DorkyDad is the one with green thumbs, but some one-handed weeding the other day left him sore and stiff so I may have to step up my efforts and pull out the snips to stop it from turning into a complete jungle over the summer. There will definitely not be any veggies this year. Instead we have scattered around various flower seeds to attract the butterflies and the bees, and keep a bit of activity going out there.
I wonder if it was those lovely flowers that brought a pademelon to the garden last week too? It was the first one we’d seen there in four years, perhaps just seeking shelter on a blistering hot day.
Until recently our next-door neighbours had a couple of cats, and all the birds we were so used to seeing in the garden had shied away. But since those folks moved away a few months ago all the birds have returned. Male blackbirds grumbling at each other over who gets the best territory; rosellas in the trees; and tiny little fairy wrens – puffballs, as DorkySon calls them – chirping away in the bushes.
Last week DorkyDad and I watched out the window as two adult magpies sat with their baby on a wire, giving what we suspect was its first flying lesson. An adult bird sat on either side of the wee one for a good half hour, before one lost patience and flew off. The remaining adult stayed and gave a few gentle pecks and firm nudges with one wing to get the juvenile going, and I’m not ashamed to say there were whoops of delight from me and DorkyDad when it finally took flight.
Later the same day we saw it crash landing on a nearby roof: squawking away in a tangle of feathers and gangly legs, but safe enough. It made me realise that families are all the same – we will likely be doing the same for DorkySon after Christmas – nudging him off to his new school, and providing reassurance through those tricky first days.
Work, by necessity, is pretty quiet at the moment. I’m pitching a lot of one-off features – I recently had this one accepted at Kidspot about the lessons I’ve learned as an expat parent, which you’re very welcome to check out. I’ve also been adding a few writing-related blog posts to my own website, and my notebook is bursting at the seams with ideas, but I’ve been holding off on making many approaches on the copywriting side of things. In a couple of months I’ll be in a good position to take on some longer-term projects, but with DorkyDad out of action and summer holidays just a few weeks away, this is a time for focusing on family.
Driven by DorkySon’s newfound passion for the environment, we’ve been doing a lot of little beach walks as the weather has improved, taking along a couple of bags for gathering trash, but also collecting some lovely pieces of sea glass and pottery. I’ve discovered sea glass marbles for the first time – I’ve found three so far, and they’re becoming something of an obsession! It definitely feels like there’s some kind of karmic balance involved in beachcombing: the more rubbish I pick up, the more treasure I tend to find.
There are four or five interesting beaches within 20 minutes’ walk of the house, and that kind of easy, accessible outdoor activity is exactly the kind of thing I’d hoped for when we moved here. I’m reconnecting with the tides and the cycles of the moon, watching the sands shift as each week passes.
It’s also making me reflect on the cyclical nature of our lives as a family over the last decade. Without noticing, we seem to have ended up in a pattern where we go through major change every four years. In 2001, I started university; 2005 I met DorkyDad; 2009 DorkySon was born; and 2013 we moved to Tasmania.
With just a month to go, and a pretty quiet and settled year in our rear-view mirror, I hope 2017 doesn’t throw us any curveballs. Perhaps this year’s major transition is the one that DorkySon is about to make as he leaves his beloved little school to join a much bigger one after Christmas.
He is feeling all the big emotions right now, but if this change works out as well as our previous ones, 2018 should be a wonderful year to remember.