Reminisces in the Autumn of ‘21

I guess you could call it a mantlepiece, even though it isn’t over a fireplace but is a slab of wood that sits on the kitchen cupboards and creates a flat top. Yet it seems to collect the flotsam and jetsam of the flow of our lives. As I look at it now, I see a story winding its way across its polished surface. It starts with the two walkie talkies that sit on the end, testament to our attempt to improve our communication when we move our cattle – and it seems to be working, there is less frustration and yelling as in previous times. Then the eye is drawn to a small succulent in a blue glazed pot – a gift from a friend – and a reminder to be watered. The jar of pasture seeds from another friend, waiting to be planted, on the list of things to do, but first…..we have to find the sprinkler! Then the sad looking butternut pumpkin, harvested in late summer and sat there since, waiting hopefully to be eaten, but also having the possibility of becoming chook food. In a row, the avocados picked from the orchard yesterday wait to ripen to a creamy pastel green and be devoured either on toast with pepper and salt or with the next omelette. Sitting lonely by itself is a ruby grapefruit, picked the other week to check to see if its ripe – waiting either to be eaten or with more of its kind turned into ruby red marmalade. Then there’s the baby jap pumpkin that my husband picked up when working at another farm, ready to be chopped open and roasted with dinner.

Luckily the mantelpiece is a long one as we have only reached half way.

Sitting in pride of place in the center is my husband’s birthday card, made for him by his daughter, and next to that Mum’s flummery dish, left when she and dad came over to celebrate her 78th birthday, clean and waiting for the chance to be returned. Next to one another are the few unripe tomatoes and the large bowl of limes, one the result of lack the other of abundance. Normally I have more than enough vine ripened tomatoes to regularly freeze a few bags of passata, but this year – the mice and rats have had the lions share. I have resorted to picking them when they have only a blush of colour and ripening them inside, in an attempt to beat the wildlife. The lime tree however fruited the best ever and I have a large bowl which is been worked through slowly, turned into lime cordial. Next in line is another butternut, half the size it should be, waiting to be utilized for dinner.

On the far end, daily grind becomes more of a memory as we see a decorative glass jar filled with shells and fine sand, reminders of beach trips and holidays. Incongruously next to the shells is a plastic yogurt container filled with crushed egg shells awaiting the day when ‘someone’ feeds them to the chickens. Lastly are the ornaments, all gifts from my mother, the little gold giraffe and silver duck, and the blown glass ornament with its glowing jewel colours of blue, green and touches of sienna. Yet even here life has intruded, the giraffe has two huge horns on its head, like Loki from the Avengers, made of two green twist ties found nearby. Its tail has also been extended by a green twist tie, and looking homely in between the ornaments is the pack of toothpicks that never made it back to the pantry.

Looking at my mantelpiece I see the ebbs and flows of my family’s life, the jobs, the celebrations and the ‘whenever it happens’. I never realized before how a list of random items could express a snapshot of our everyday lives.

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