The morning is fresh. A regular February day, as if we have always been here. Always lived and grown on this land.
Crisp strands of clouds wave overhead. Sun shines cold, making way for flakes of snow to flare down on us when our day is done.
The work, this effort here, takes your attention all day. We become immersed in the fitting of a membrane, a protective layer for the front of our damp and soaked soil lining the front house. You woke at 7.30am and watched as your father and two strong Polish men, Adam and Sigmund arrive in the yard.
Recovering from a cold, I tell you to wrap up warm, put the heating on and not stay outside for long. I don’t see you for hours.
I make the juice, then the porridge and beckon you in. You, flushed in the face, red and cold in the midst of making a new path to line our house. I watch you weave through the house as bits of floor come off, dug up to line with damp proof.
We are in the midst of an overhaul, a new house being built in an old house. Its hard work. I watch you munch quickly and exit to oversee the men.
The sun keeps shining so I walk to the river’s edge, head through the forest, embrace the afternoon’s offerings.
THE FOREST IS HOME on this half summer, half winter day.
I sit on a log and soak up the winter’s gifts, auburn leaves at my feet, grass peering up, stones peppering the path. I think of little other than the gushing water as it moves swiftly at my feet. The moss thick underneath. I breathe deep and long and rest against a tree on the way back. I needed to be here, resting against the earth.
The skip is full when I arrive home. The workers are hungry and tired and almost done. Steal has been cut. You are sitting down when I get there and I get to look into your eyes. I suggest some food. We agree on something to cook and you help me wash pots and prepare a meal. It takes what feels like only minutes.
Your Dad comes to our makeshift kitchen. We recognise that it is a good day’s work and as we eat the snow finally falls outside, slowly at first, then heavy. We sit for some time, recognising dark memories of Avoca and tough times for family.
WE MOVE SO EASILY FROM DARK TO LIGHT AS OUR CONVERSATION FLOWS, ONE MINUTE HEAVY, THE NEXT LAUGHTER FILLS OUR LUNGS.
I make dessert as you leave to have the car nct’d. You kissed me often today, every time you could steal a chance and I know it has been automatic and necessary. It has kept you going and me kind.
I play ‘With my Own Two Hands’ by Ben Harper as I mix and mix in your absence and wait for the stars to come out and fill in the hills.
This land we have bought, this house, ours to share our music, and our moods, to soak up stories and feelings of love, to welcome new souls and say hello to the snow.