High summer at the old schoolmasters house is kind of hot and luscious. Waves of dry heat that lead to afternoon siestas and river swims. Laziness really. Even the kangaroos don’t do very much. The threat of bushfire is just over the horizon.
The garden has gone wild and blossomed into hundreds of blue spiky balls – the echinops have finally flowered. There’s something almost space age about them; little planets that butterflies swarm around.
In the courtyard, nearly everything that was randomly planted just a few months ago has taken off, protected from the winds and nurtured by the heat of the walls. This is the prime growing spot. So recipes planned in town are augmented by fresh picked tomatoes, herbs and cucumbers.
I’ve always loved English novels set in high summer; The Go- Between, Atonement; all full of heat and insects and secrets. Summer in Australia is usually focused around the beach and water but up here in the high hot hills it’s easier to imagine dressing for an elegant 1930s dinner with Hercule Poirot at the local rectory!
In the late afternoon when it is a bit cooler and easier to move around, the front flower garden exerts its magnetic pull and I slip into the comforting chores of cutting back and pulling weeds. As well as the more urgent one of deep watering to keep the newer, less hardy plants alive.
And then to dinner followed by apricots picked fresh from the trees, so beautiful and delicous. A pause in the work to literally savor the fruits of the many, many months of labour at the old schoolmasters house…