In the Winter, the days are shorter…

Sun goes to bed early, in the cold sky… And by the fire, we warm our toes, and go to bed early, in our warm clothes.

Holly Throsby – The Seasons

Four days ago, after much prevarication, we decided to remain in Tasmania. The weather, over the past week, has become increasingly…um… seasonal? Beautiful days, bloody cold mornings. I started waking up early, my breath steaming like a dragon, and decided we needed to sail to Queensland. STAT.* Sit out the current situation via daily swims and reading books in the sun.

But. On further reflection a decision was made to remain in Franklin, where:

  • we are amongst people that we know
  • we have Della Delica to get us to and from the supermarket instead of having to find somewhere to get ashore and having to get on buses or walk long distances
  • Tasmania, in comparison to the other eastern states, has a low infection rate, and – at the time of writing – has had no detected community based infections. Therefore it is (currently) safer than our proposed destination – although I haven’t extrapolated for size/population etc
  • we are 87% certain we have a block of land, though there is nothing official about it; thus we are going to spend time trying to tame it.

In relation to the last point – this was my original pre-pandemic plan, one that I was talked out of both by M and Linda (owner of the land). I wanted to use the winter to get rid of all the blackberries and weeds, rather than return in warmer weather to a freshly sprouting outcrop. Despite the cold, I was certain we could use the winter to make paths, chop down the various skanky non-native trees that block a lot of the light and particularly clear weeds from the creek.

Now it seems that it is all going to happen. The Smalls and I may even decamp from the boat and spend some time in Linda’s van and annexe, where there is a tiny old fashioned wood stove.

[…the following is written two days after the above.]

Yesterday – a balmy 25 degrees, was a tonic for the soul. Again we worked our butts off on the block, coated in mozzie spray, bits of mud and sweat. It was yesterday when M and I realised that the Smalls have spent their last four years or so living on a boat, so busting their arses land-clearing was a whole new world. They did remarkably well.

A blackberry root. Hard won.

Blackberry root.

There were, of course, sporadic verbal punch-ups. We were pulling out blackberries that are choking the man ferns and the creek as M used the chainsaw to clear the trees that had fallen across it. He’s handy with the new brush cutter – it almost melts away impenetrable massive clumps of the evil blackberry weed – then we come and rake it out. The roots are still there – and they are e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y hard to dig out. I have started dreaming wistfully of a rotary hoe.

Chainsaw man.

Chainsaw Man.

*From the Latin word status, meaning ‘immediately. ‘

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