The Best Ride

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Our first family car was a sleek-looking import—an American Hudson. Photographs of this new wonder depict our family standing proudly in front. Everyone except me—an unsmiling eleven-year-old. It was a fancy two-tone number, but I hated it. It is the only car in which I have ever felt unrelentingly and horribly car sick. Given Dad loved it so much, it’s surprising we didn’t have it for very long, but I was immensely pleased to see it gone.

Before its arrival, our mode of transport was either by bus, train, or Dad’s motorbike. Mum’s early memories were sitting on the back and holding on tight, frozen in her best dress and heels while flying into the city to go to the movies. My memories, and they are some of my absolute best, were riding in the huge side car. Mum would line it with soft blankets, and my brother and I sat deep within its bowels, often eating fish and chips while the outside world whizzed by unseen. We felt cosy, warm, and very safe, especially late at night as we zoomed along with lights flashing  past and the wind whistling above. It was always exciting, but also, just a little bit magical for it was not every day we got to ride in the sidecar. We never popped our heads out—it was much more fun staying hidden inside our secret little cubby on wheels.  

When it was time for the Hudson to depart, our next family car was a Ford Falcon Station Wagon, and oh, how we loved that car. We had the happiest of times going places in that vehicle, in the days when there were fewer cars on the road and it wasn’t against the law for three children to sleep in the back. Some years later, when my brother was a car-mad teenager with a licence, he and Dad put their heads together and decided it was time for a new car. Mum and I literally wept as our beloved station wagon backed out of the driveway heading to the car yard. If you have ever wanted to drape yourself emotionally over an object, you will know how we felt—saying goodbye to that car was a heart-wrenching moment.

Being the sensible girls we were, Mum and I envisaged they would come back with a sensible car—beige or white perhaps with four doors, but we were in for a shock. In drove a bright red, two-door Holden Monaro with a garish black stripe down the side. Dad and my brother were beaming, Mum and I were cringing. Neither of us ever felt happy or safe in that car. It was loud and obvious, and we disliked it immensely.

Looking back, the two boys in our family should have looked after that Monaro better given its worth in later years, but they did not. It eventually went the way of all cars over-revved by reckless young drivers—to a mechanic who could fix it. That was my last ‘family’ car. When I was twenty-one, I left for wider pastures while it still sat in the driveway.

Later, for Dad, came a practical Mazda hatchback, which he drove for many years till one day, it blew up. He was distraught as it was beyond repair, but the family was hugely relieved. By then, his driving had become so erratic we said a little prayer whenever he got behind the wheel. It was the perfect opportunity for him to retire from driving, but sadly for Dad, the end of an era.

Our family cars were an integral part of our lives, representing not only how our family evolved over the years, but the different aspirations of those who had a hand in purchasing them. They were either loved or loathed by various members of the family.

As for me? The worst ride was the Hudson, the happiest ride was the Ford Falcon Station Wagon, the most embarrassing ride was the Monaro, but by far, the best ride was in the magical sidecar of the motorbike.  

© Inara Hawley 2020

My Very Dear Friend

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A very dear friend passed a few weeks ago, nine months after she was diagnosed with an inoperable terminal illness.

She firmly believed in an afterlife. She believed our soul was on a journey of learning, that we choose our life path before we come, and she also believed she would find her miracle moment and survive.

But she didn’t. She tried, but she never found it. She wasn’t afraid of death, but she didn’t want to go either. She fought it to the end. And that’s how it is for all of us. Our love of life and will to live is strong. Giving in to death is not easy, but it’s what we all must face. And if we are lucky, we get the peaceful passing that we all hope and wish for.

I knew when she was diagnosed that this was her chosen exit strategy, and deep down, so did she. I also knew the day after she passed that she was gone. I was standing in the kitchen peeling vegetables when I had the strongest feeling that she had left, and I thought, ‘so you are there and now you know’.

You see, she was fascinated by what happens after we leave this earthly plane. She had researched the subject for many years. It was, in fact, her favourite topic of conversation. She read and reread the same books. She immersed herself in every little detail of it. It was almost as if she willed herself to go there – she wanted to find out so badly.

So, my very dear friend, the friend who is part of my soul family is gone. The friend I will always love, think about and hold dear.

She was strong, bossy, very direct, and always said what she thought. Not a shrinking violet. But she was also a worrier. She worried because she cared. And she was bossy because she cared. And she was forthright because she cared. She reached out to others with a compassionate heart. She was a loyal, loving person.

A friend for over 42 years and I am going to miss her.

But it was her choice. We never pass unless it’s with the understanding and agreement on the highest level of our soul. This was her soul choice, and I understand.

We are all, every single one of us, part of All That Is – the Source Energy from which we come, and part of my soul is there with her now for we are never parted from it.

So, till we meet again on this earthly plane, I hold you in my heart, my very dear friend.

© Inara Hawley 2016

A Veggie Garden at Last!

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It’s taken thirty years, but we now have a veggie garden. Today we planted it out, and Hubby and I are both patting ourselves on the back. We’ve been so busy over the years running businesses and travelling that we never had the time. But it’s finally here, and it’s a cracker.

We did it for two reasons. We live in a small country town and you’d think the vegetables would be locally sourced and fabulous. Sadly, they are not! And secondly, I’ve always wanted a veggie garden. It’s an above ground garden as you can see from the pictures. We made it above ground because we didn’t want to be bending and I really liked the ‘No-Dig’ garden concept which requires the building up of layers. There is a cost of course to this type of garden which would be above that of one which is using ground soil as first you have to build the structure, then fill it. For those interested in the cost our total was $A450, a figure which we can easily rack up at the supermarket counter! Half of that was the cost of the filling. We already had most of the materials bar some extra wood to hold it all together. That, surprisingly, was more than half of the balance ~ wood is not cheap! But of course, building it yourself, allows you to make it what size you want. Ours is 4 metres long, 1.2 metres wide and 1 metre deep, which is a lot of space to fill.

Making Veggie Garden - croppedVeggie Garden Structure - cropped

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t know how a No-Dig above-ground garden works here are the layers.

No Dig Garden courtesy sgaonline.org.au

Image courtesy of Sustainable Gardening Australia in Victoria ~ sgaonline.org.au

Veggie Garden Layers - Sunday MusingsThe straw bales at the bottom are basically to save money. You wouldn’t need them for a lower garden. Also, as our bed was not on hard ground or concrete, we didn’t need to add drainage. Once it’s filled the bed needs to rest for a couple of weeks before planting. I think we left ours a little too long as the soil compacted and we had to aerate it with a fork and add potting mix. That was really the only bit of hard yakka that was involved.

Planted Veggie Garden - Sunday MusingsThen we planted. Some were my own propagated seeds and some were seedlings (my lettuce didn’t strike, nor did my cucumber ~ two of my favourite foods so we needed to buy those plus a few other impulse purchases!). It is, of course, a whole lot easier to buy seedlings. They all look so lovely too! When everything was in the ground we covered it with a nice pea-straw mulch and watered it all in well with Seasol (liquid seaweed), and as we’re not compost people, we’ll be perking it all up regularly with castings and juice from our very happy worms.

Worm Farm - Sunday MusingsWe’ve been doing worm farms on and off for years. It’s magic stuff and so easy too! As we don’t have a compost heap all our veggie scraps (bar onions and citrus) go to the worms. We chop it all up and feed them once to twice a week, then water them once a week and collect what drains through, and bottle it. Yes, we bottle it because that’s the ‘magic stuff’ ~ a phrase coined by my late father who reckoned it made his garden grow like magic overnight! His garden loved it, our garden loves it and so will our veggies.

And this is how the final garden looks a few weeks later ~ it’s what I see every time I look out of my kitchen window. Hubby built the netting cover structure with pliable piping ~ easy enough to find out how to do it on google. When it was finished we stood back and admired it all for at least half an hour! We are so proud of it. And the veggies are going great guns ~ nothing like fresh salad every day to put a smile on your face!

Veggie Garden - Sunday Musings

I am feeling very satisfied with our efforts. Not ever having created a vegetable garden before, it’s turned out extremely well. As I write I gaze out of my study window and I can see our sheep roaming about quietly, and I can’t help thinking that we not only have productivity going on in our paddocks (our sheep are wool producing), it’s also now going on in our garden as well. It makes me very happy and I feel very blessed.

Cheers and happy gardening!

Inara Hawley © 2015

There’s No Place Like Home

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Home is my favourite place. Hubby and I have done a lot of travelling in our life together and, to be honest, I’m glad it’s over. I have wonderful memories, but the thought of getting on a plane and travelling for a day to get somewhere and see something I’ve probably seen before, is not my idea of fun anymore.

Don’t get me wrong ~ it’s great to travel. Everyone should do it if they get the opportunity. It’s exciting, and exhilarating, and broadens the mind like nothing else can. The anticipation and pleasure is fantastic, and the memories are forever. I’m glad I did it in my twenties and thirties when I had the energy to squeeze a million things into each and every day. They were great times, and I’m grateful. To eat, drink and be merry all night long with friends all over the world was no trouble at all. These days though, I would need a holiday after the holiday!

Most of our trips were business related, but even so, we made warm friendships with all our overseas business associates and had the opportunity to see and experience life in their country. The trips we made for pure pleasure, however, were the best ~ Europe, UK, Japan, NZ, Hawaii, tropical islands off Australia, cruising, and then the gem of them all ~ travelling around the world first class for four months through Canada, USA, Scandinavia and the Greek Islands. That was pretty spectacular. I’ve seen many breathtakingly beautiful places and had many happy times with wonderful friends, but I have to say, my appetite for travelling has been satiated. It really is the ‘been there done that’ feeling. I’ve seen everything I ever wanted to see and, fortunately, hubby feels exactly the same. If someone wants to see us, they’ll have to come and visit!

I have a friend who often says to me that I should go to see this garden, or that amazing place, or the interesting town a few hundred kilometres away, but honestly, why would I sit in the car for hours when looking out the window at my magnificent view does it for me every time. I love being home so much I don’t even go shopping anymore!

East Mtn ViewWe have a lovely spot. Hubby and I love the peace. We love the calm and harmony. Some would say we are lucky to have such a peaceful, harmonious environment but it’s what we chose. It’s what we want, and that’s why we have it. And it’s why we both love it.

West View

We’ve had a few houses over the years, and as far as I am concerned, each one has been a place of beauty and harmony. I’ve really enjoyed putting Zen into every corner of every house and garden I’ve had the pleasure of living in. In my view, it’s not about the interior design, colour, furniture, or even the feng shui. It’s about the positive intention you place within your home ~ the comfort, the warmth, the love, the memories, and the bit of yourself that welcomes everyone through the door.

They say home is where the heart is, and that’s true. My country house may need a bit of sprucing here and there, but just walking from room to room puts a smile on my face. My home is a joyful place, and it makes my heart sing. And that’s why I love it. In my world, there’s definitely no place like it.

Inara Hawley © 2015

A Stepmother’s Gift

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Before I was married, I worked for a small company in a plush office overlooking Sydney Harbour.

One day while rushing to get a boardroom lunch together, the precocious 6-year-old grandson of one of the directors came into the kitchen. Now normally I love little children, but that day I was simply too busy to give him any warm and fuzzy attention, and distinctly recall giving him the ‘go away little person’ vibe.

He stood there watching me for a bit, and then as all little children do, said exactly what was on his mind:

‘You look like a stepmother!’

He had obviously got my message loud and clear! But, as fate would have it, they were prophetic words. Only a few short years later that’s exactly what I was ~ a stepmother. At the age of 27, I married a man with three teenage daughters, the oldest of whom was only ten years younger than me.

Now that would perhaps raise a few eyebrows or even ring alarm bells for some, but being young, inexperienced, optimistic, ever positive, and very much in love, it never occurred to me that there would be any hurdles.

For me, it was simply about being happy together. After all, I was going into it with an open, welcoming heart so how could it be anything but a happy bed of roses? But, of course, there’s no such thing as a bed of roses without a thorn or two is there, even if it is planted and nurtured with love, care, and goodwill.

Children and parents deserve the best relationship possible, but divorce messes with that in a big way, as does a new spouse for one of the parents.

They are a gatecrasher, an interloper ~ a person not of the children’s choosing who steps into their lives and gets a huge chunk of their parent’s attention and affection. Jealousy and even, resentment is often inevitable and has to be handled as sensitively as possible. As does, learning to be a part of each other’s lives. That takes quite a few years I can tell you!

I did it with as much welcoming warmth, support, and loving compassion as I could.

That isn’t to say I wasn’t upfront about issues when I really needed to be. I am very straightforward when there is no other way, but, to be honest, I don’t like upsetting the apple cart if I don’t have to.

In as much as there is a lot to be said when one is working towards creating a smooth path, there is also a lot that doesn’t need to be said. Honest heartfelt words are vital, but harsh ones are not. They are never forgotten and best left unspoken.

It is when we speak truthfully with an open heart, and listen with an open heart, that we forge the right path together.

But most important of all, my husband and I were united. We were united in valuing our relationship above all else, and we were united in the care, support, and love that we gave to the girls. If that had not been the case, our marriage would not have survived as well as it has.

A Stepmothers Gift - Sunday MusingsOne thing is for sure ~ having three lively, girls in my life was never boring. There was always a lot going on.

And after our daughter was born, it got even livelier! Then we had four very lively girls!

Now, if you are a stepmother, or a stepchild, reading this, please know that a good stepmother is worth her weight in gold. She not only has Dad’s ear, she is someone you can reach out to, someone who will listen, and most importantly, someone who cares.

But as good as it gets, every stepmother will have those ‘left out’ moments ~ it’s unavoidable, particularly on special family occasions that belong to Mum and Dad. Those moments when out of politeness that you step back, and then don’t get invited back in.

That’s life. Let it go, and keep doing your best. In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. In your heart replace it with one of the many kind moments that have come your way. And remember, feeling left out goes both ways.

Now having said all of the above, I have never felt like a stepmother. Our times together were, and still are, very social ~ lunches, dinners, and overnight stays. I am more of a friend than a mother figure.

And that’s how it should be. They have a wonderfully loving mother, and I wouldn’t for one second want to emulate that relationship. And being the nice woman that she is, a lovely thing came to pass. Because I’ve always had the girls’ best interests at heart, we developed an extremely pleasant, open rapport, and that was a definite bonus for everyone.

My aim has always been to be someone the girls could rely on and trust, and someone that they could clearly see made their father happy. My door has always been, and will always be, open.

Over the years, we have negotiated the hills and valleys of our lives together, and I would say that we have done it very successfully. We have all learned and grown from the experience. We accept each other just as we are, and we are able to speak openly and honestly without recriminations.

And here’s my ‘stepmothers’ gift. Today, not only are we bound by friendship, we are bound by the fact that we are family. My husband’s first three daughters are sisters to our daughter, and we all love and support each other, just as a family should.

A Stepmother's Gift - Sunday MusingsIf someone were to ask me who the women were that I would choose to spend an evening with, it would have to be these four fabulous women ~ my daughter and my three stepdaughters.

Why? Because we value each other, we care about each other, and we have respect for each other.

And because we have much to talk about, to laugh about, and to share. We have history and our bond is strong. We are wonderful, powerful women. We are family and we are united.

Inara Hawley © 2015

Meeting the Neighbours

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We have lived in our little country town for just over three years now, and apart from our misadventure when we ended up with sheep, we had not met our immediate neighbours.

Over the years I’ve become a bit of a hermit, albeit a happy one. I’ve led a very busy life, and now I love my peace and quiet. That being said, it’s important to meet the neighbours, especially when one lives on acres. It can be very isolating. And if you ever need to contact your neighbour, it’s good to pick up the phone and know whom you’re talking to.

So with that in mind, I was hoping for an opportunity to connect with our new neighbours, and as with all intentions, it wasn’t long before it arrived. A couple of weeks later, while making soup for my monthly cook-up, I looked up from my chopping board and noticed them across the paddock standing at the boundary fence. I thought, great ~ now’s the time to introduce ourselves, so hubby bounded up to say hello.

Sunday Musings - Meeting the NeighboursWith the ice broken, a date was set and over they came for an afternoon drink. They brought the wine ~ I’m not a drinker, but by golly they were good drops. And I did the food, which wasn’t bad either considering it was just an afternoon snack! Sunday Musings - Meeting the Neighbours

Sunday Musings - Meeting the Neighbours
Now it may be that we’re very personable, and it may be that they’re very personable, but we could not have picked a nicer couple to live next door to. With the same background of escaping the city, it turns out we have a lot in common ~ we talked real estate, business, travel, family, and even religion, and had lots of laughs.

And it also turns out, that the two of us girls are of similar minds. I’ve wanted a veggie patch for many years, but as hubby hasn’t warmed to the idea it has never eventuated. My new neighbour however, is a mad keen vegetable-grower. And she not only offered to share her ready-made patch of earth with me, in a moment of what I consider utter madness, said she’d come over and actually dig up our veggie patch! Apparently in her walks around the boundary, she has worked out exactly the right spot for it! Golly! It really is all about ‘ask and ye shall receive’ ~ if you put it out to the Universe with a big enough wish, eventually the opportunity presents itself.

Sunday Musings - Meeting the NeighboursSo we had the very best afternoon ~ a really fun meet and greet. We ate, we drank, we chatted, we laughed, and we made a right mess of the kitchen. Fortunately, we both love our privacy ~ that’s why we live on acres though I doubt it will be the last time we meet. Given the gardening enthusiasm, it may not be too long before I’m digging up the paddocks with the lovely energetic lady next door. Also, after finding out that our two cats visit them every night, if we ever need anyone to look after them for a few days, I think we’ve found the perfect couple to do it.

It’s a true statement indeed that one can pick ones friends, but not ones neighbours. Living where we do, we rarely see anyone unless we go into town, but knowing we have a super-friendly neighbourly vibe just on over the hill is a real blessing. Yes, meeting the neighbours is a good thing to do, and finding out they are kind, helpful people who know how to have a laugh, is even better.

Oh, and Universe ~ thank you for the nudge! I did after all ask for a veggie patch.

There Are No Accidents

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There are no accidents. Knowing what I know now, I believe that to be a true statement, for when we live with awareness, we will always find the connection, the reason or the lesson.

Twenty one years ago I had a car accident, one which changed my life forever. It was the biggest learning curve of my life, and today I am all the wiser for it. The years of dealing with a severe injury was where my greatest lessons lived ~ in the pain, the panic, the fear, the anger, the frustration, the despair, and in the will to keep going. And the instant it happened I knew ~ when the car stopped spinning, and I was able to get out, I looked at the wreck and said aloud, “What do I have to learn from this?” And learn I did … for year and years.

My body fell apart a few weeks later ~ one night I awoke and couldn’t breathe. The twisted metal of the car seat should have been a clue. It was so badly damaged it could not be repaired, and for a very long time it seemed my body may not be able to be repaired either. I was in constant pain, I couldn’t get a proper breath, I could barely walk, I couldn’t use my arms … I couldn’t do anything ~ I was trapped. Everything which represented who I was … was gone. Instead, every fibre of my being was focused on surviving the next second … and the next … and the next. It was so intense, if a bomb had gone off next to me I wouldn’t have noticed. I was no longer the nurturing mother, the supportive wife, the doer, the giver, the loyal friend, the keeper of my house, the achiever, the university student, or the partner in our family business. Except for my will to survive I was stripped bare.

About ten years after the accident I started writing a book, the purpose of which was to help others going through a similar experience. In the early years an acquaintance, one of those good people who throw you a lifeline when you need it most, lent me exactly such a book written by a man who had survived a serious car accident. At the time his words were a godsend ~ someone out there actually understood what I was going through. An injury such as mine, with massive soft tissue damage, long term inflammation, and no broken bones or outward signs of injury, is hard to deal with. I would imagine it is very similar to depression, asthma or rheumatoid arthritis … invisible to those around you, but always the silent companion walking beside you. It never complains out loud, only you know it’s there. And because there are no bandages, the support you so desperately need is not there. Not because no one cares, but because no one notices or understands. Only the closest ones know, and while they do their best, even they cannot share your journey.

Today I am too far removed from the events to ever finish the book. I have no desire to call myself a survivor, nor do I wish to revisit those desperate times of panic, struggle and uncertainty. I define myself by what I’ve learned, not by the struggle. I worked through each step with purpose and determination, and have no desire to step back into yesterday’s emotions. When I look back at my journals they are harrowing ~ my despair and isolation was overpowering, but so was my hope, my strength and my courage. If I had not been such a positive person I might have given up, but I didn’t. I was determined to get better. I have always believed that I could heal myself, both on a physical and spiritual level, and I was prepared to explore anything and everything to get there. I saw doctors, specialists, spiritual healers and every kind of alternative therapist you could imagine. For the first three years I had physical therapy every day except Sunday. It was my safety net. But ultimately, it was when my head space changed that the journey changed.

One day I stopped fighting. In a moment of utter desperation I heard myself scream, “Die now or get better!”. I had challenged the Universe and fully expected to be struck down, but it didn’t happen, and that’s when I surrendered. I let go of resistance and instantly changed the vibration. I stopped focusing on the pain and the struggle.

The next few years were a mind-blowing time. I left no stone unturned in my quest to open my mind and my heart, and connect to the healing energy within. I meditated myself into oblivion. I created affirmations, recorded them for my meditations, worked on releasing cell trauma, imagined a better quality of life where I could move and breath freely and easily, aligned myself with ease and flow, and saw myself as ‘new’. I also discovered deep tissue laser therapy, and that was like a magic key. It broke down the scar tissue, and allowed a courageous therapist, one who had the guts to do what was needed no matter how painful, to put everything back in its place. Slowly I started to improve. And in the years that followed I finished my university degree, taught in a classroom, was able to get back into our business, and bit by bit create a garden. I was holding it together, and I was getting better.

It took fifteen years to get to a place where my body felt reasonably stable ~ where I had more good days than bad, where I could get a decent night’s sleep, and where I felt well enough to plan for something in the knowledge that I would be able to fulfil it. I still have to pace myself, but now I am able to do many of the things I once took for granted … simple things which fill me with immense appreciation and gratitude.

So what did I learn and what did I change? I learned to look after myself first ~ to pay attention to my body. I learned to ask for help, and I let go of being the eternal fixer-upper. I examined my beliefs, and let go of fear and perfection. I learned to trust on the highest level. I learned to validate what someone is going through ~ to honour their strength and courage. I also created a peaceful place within, one which I can go to anytime. I learned to find the joy and live in the moment, and I connected to the infinite source of love.

It’s in the dark night of the soul that we reach out to touch what we need to move into the oneness of the light, and that’s exactly what I did. And if we are brave enough to be truly honest with ourselves, the steps we take forward will be sure-footed, and we will find the right path. This is a poem I wrote about a year after the accident, when one day, my mother said to me, “Insi, you are very brave”. And I thought, yes I am. It’s simple but expresses exactly how I felt at the time.

I Am Very Brave

I am very brave
For I want to save
My body, my mind
Not leave it behind
To see a new day
With the pain gone away
Is where I will be
Just wait and see

I am very brave
I don’t hide in a cave
I go forth and try
With my head held high
I won’t give in
For me that’s a sin
My body can make it
It’s just hard to take it

I am very brave
Even when I rant and rave
Then I yell and scream
Till I run out of steam
I feel lonely and sad
Sometimes it’s so bad
My body hurts so much
That I just lose touch

I am very brave
For I choose to behave
Like I can cope
And I don’t mope
It’s been so hard
From my life I’ve been barred
I hate being trapped
But it’s like its been mapped

I am very brave
I’m in touch with a wave
That helps me to flow
And cope with the blow
I’ve learned many things
It’s like I’ve grown wings
Sometimes I feel I could fly
Right up to the sky

I am very brave
For now I don’t crave
To have what is past
I feel safe at last
I’ve let go of the fear
That made things unclear
I now dance with the ‘All’
And I know I won’t fall

I am very brave
For I know what to save
Often I wondered
And sometimes I blundered
But with the love of those dear
My path is now clear
This moment’s the one
To feel joy and fun

I am very brave
For now I behave
How I really feel
And it’s no big deal
To myself I am true
For me, and for you
I know I can do it
I will get through it

Inara Hawley © 2014

 

The Garden in My Heart

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There are some experiences in life which are so connected to a specific time and place that they stay alive forever. One such experience for me was gardening. I was never much of a gardener in my younger days, nor do I do a great deal of gardening today. These days I am more of a ‘plant and let it be’ than a ‘plant and nurture’ type of gardener, but there is one garden that is and will always be embedded in my heart.

For most of my married life I’ve lived on acres ~ lots of trees, paddocks, and animals. And that has suited me just fine. There is nothing I like better than being surrounded by tall leafy trees and grassy hills. So apart from indoor pot plants, I never had the desire to plant a thing. That is, until we bought a rugged 30 acre hillside nestled on the western edge of the Blue Mountains.

First Post - The Garden in My Heart

Hubby putting in the first marker for the house

It was a magnificent spot ~ the highest point in a vast valley, reported to be the second largest sunken valley in the world. With escarpment views, a hillside of majestic pines, and a resident mob of kangaroos, it was high, rocky, wild and windy, and stunningly beautiful.

House - Garden in My Heart

Our house when the gardens were completed

Entrance - Garden in My Heart

Our entrance ~ we named the property ‘Karawatha’, the Aboriginal word for ‘Place of Pines’

After, the house was built and the outbuildings were finished, it was time to tackle our sloping gravelly hillside… and our valley had just the man to do it! He was a feisty little Irishman, and a very talented landscaper. He walked around the house, up and down the slopes, and without any discussion said, “Leave it to me”. And so I did. A thousand, yes a thousand, railway sleepers later we had a 50 metre retaining wall with a 3 tiered garden and steps up through the centre, plus ten other retained garden areas, and walkways. It was fantastic!

The Garden in My Heart

Part of the garden when it was fully grown

The Garden in My Heart

The view from the front verandah

When it was all finally finished and filled with lovely rich soil, it was my turn, and for the first time in my life, I had a garden. It was definitely my time, and for the next ten years I planted, tended and nurtured every plant as if it were an extension of me. I fell in love with it. On summer evenings, my favourite thing to do was water the garden late at night to the chorus of cicadas. And in the mornings, I walked the pathways with my cup of tea, pulled a few weeds, looked at the amazing view, and with immense gratitude, felt one with the Universe. It was a wonderful garden ~ an absolute paradise.

Hubby and I both really loved it, and it was in fact what kept us sane. At the time we had a busy real estate office ~ the only one in the valley, and it was hectic. But when we got home and locked that gate behind us, we were free! We had our animals at our feet, the kangaroos grazing in our front paddock, the rabbits hopping about, the mountain birds visiting our birdfeeders, the wedge-tailed eagles soaring through the sky, and of course, the garden and the view. When we sat on our front verandah with a glass of red soaking up the magic, all was right with the world. I can still see it and feel it. We were so high up, we felt like we owned the valley. It was wonderful.

Cabin - The Garden in My Heart

One of the two cabins we built on the property

But the day came when we decided to move on. We had sold our real estate office to a lovely local couple, and built 2 luxury accommodation cabins on the property. While that was a great business decision, at the time, what we really wanted was to downsize. I was more than happy to hand over a fully furnished house and two cabins. As it was a walk in-walk out sale we left everything, including our beds, but the garden was another matter. It held my heart.

The day we moved I was left on my own waiting for a truck to arrive, and that’s when I said goodbye to my garden. It was a heartrending moment ~ really difficult, until suddenly I knew what to do. I would leave my garden with some words of love. I found the perfect piece of wood in the shed, and with a marking pen, on its smooth surface I wrote the following:

‘Inara’s Garden 1993 ~ 2004 With Love’

I knew it wouldn’t last beyond a month or so in the weather, but as I placed it amongst the diosmas, I felt it was exactly the right thing to do. It was a symbolic gesture that embodied everything I felt about a garden which had brought me so much pleasure. I have visited since, and while the hundreds of trees we planted now majestically reach for the sky, the garden is not what it was. But it doesn’t matter, because in my heart, it will always be as beautiful as I left it, and that will always be mine.

Inara Hawley © 2014

Caring Matters

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The sense of community in a small town can be delightful. Our town in particular is one full of happy vibes and kindness. But while kindness is a wonderful thing and should never be underrated, caring matters even more.

Caring Matters Recently there was a competition in our small town, which involved a bit of creative thought and expertise. Hubby and I were given entry forms, but as I popped them under my arm I thought no more of it. However, after a few days I realised we had to make the effort. After all, we live in a small town, and if we want to be part of the community, we can’t ignore it.

So we put our thinking caps on and surprisingly, hubby came up with a very creative idea, and being the good wife that I am, I executed it just as creatively on his behalf. When it was finished I was pleased. It was a pretty good effort, and I thought it had a good chance of winning.

On the day, however, a lady with a very average entry won it. A little later when everyone was having their tea and cake, one of the staff members quietly sidled over to hubby and said, “Yours was the best you know, but we all thought she needed a lift”. And so she did, as hubby watched her leave with a basket of goodies and a great big smile.

Yes, kindness matters, but caring matters even more, especially in a small town, for without it there would be no sense of community. I love living in a small town. 

Inara Hawley © 2014