It is Saturday morning. I wouldn’t say it is cold but warmth escapes me this day of light drizzling rain and lingering uncommitted fog. A minister once told me he delighted in finding the occasional wet Saturday so that he could relax and place words on paper, it made him more receptive to thought. Now that i’m doing it I get what he said a long time ago.
Time passing is what I’m thinking about now and I will write something about that on this, the remains of October. It seems easy to write about time at Stanton as the place drips in it. Not so much the sort of hurried schoolmother sort of progress through the day, more the passing of the seasons I’ve reflected on before.
It has now been nearly two years since Helen left Stanton to reside on the red hill above Bushy Park and her presence there is marked by a traditional stone piece, simple yet perfect made by master craftsmen, John McDiarmid & Sons of Sydney.
It is of Tasmanian sandstone and I’m sure it will look better as it ages. For almost a year only a bare Huon pine cross made by Stanton’s cabinet maker alerted any passing council worker to a nearby soul. There was no need to rush though, everything has unfolded as it should.
Stanton has changed in subtle ways over the past year. It has rained more and retained a green edge to the land. Stanton is not a big property although the trees plants and flowers here complement each other and they do uplift the spirit when observed from the verandah. It is a pleasing scene.
As we move towards November the frosts loom as a potential cherry bud threat that could wreck the winter’s work of pruning and grooming the cherry and apple orchard but this makes for activity in itself. Looking forward each day to seeing how things are going down there refreshes the mind and makes for eager steps.
Then there is the chicken shed.
“Stanton Ovation” has finally been built and now stands impressively amidships in the apple orchard. It is a fine structure by any farm measure; cosy in winter and a base for chicken free range heaven. It is home to 13 happy birds including Australorps, Wyandots, Barnebelders, Isa Browns, and a white leghorn all supervised by three roosters.
The character among the boys has been named Stu or Stewart as he gets amongst it. Every house needs chooks. They are likely planet savers and beautiful to watch each evening with a glass of red in hand.
We like red wine at Stanton. Here it is drunk as wine should be; with passion, gusto, and … quantity. Bottles of the red stuff are opened for no particular reason and enjoyed on the go, European style with corkless bottles clinking at your feet.
Tasmanian Pinot is now world famous and rightly so, I never miss a Kelvedon Pinot when I am at Salamanca just watching the waterfront work and play. Here at Stanton our favourite sociable drop is a Volupta Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo from Tuscany imported in bulk by Ashleigh Huntington, the larger than life brewer at Two Metre Tall Real Ale company at Hayes just up the road.
Lubricated conviviality has always been a way of life here and as time passes this essence has not changed although the people at Stanton have.
Asclepius is a Veterinary surgeon from the North Island and has brought to Stanton a love of organic agriculture and the humble pleasures of growing your own food in the backyard veggie patch. The Stanton vegie patch has been neglected for some time and I have lamented the lack of a Peter Cundall type to breath life back to what is a very basic and important activity; growing it yourself. The Derwent Valley, I believe should be Tasmania’s leading example of how to do things organically.
Asclepius, (not her real name) possesses agricultural knowledge that is theoretically and practically based and has been here a while now. She rides an Andalusian Stallion on an arena marked out on the top paddock while every mare within sight looks on intently, admiringly. A short distance away the house watches this scene periodically and approves.
Asclepius has a partner here at Stanton who loves her and shares her passion for food. he is a software Engineer, also from the North Island.
Heracles (not his real name) can turn his hand to any activity and has transformed the look of Stanton into what is now a well maintained property. His clear eye for mechanical detail will bring to Stanton the oil needed to keep the house moving along as it were. Stanton is old and beautiful but she does have a lot of baggage for an ageing lady and she requires a lot of upkeep. Heracles is a thinking woman’s practical man.
He could move from the world of computing to any restaurant kitchen, or to the engineer’s workshop, or even back to the 1820′s and be Stanton’s overseer. Energy and order have been delivered to the Back River farm and it will be the better for it.
Then there is Lisa!
Lisa has come to Stanton as my partner and the love of my life. One day I will marry her. I have always suspected that the house was a semi-asleep watchful being of a sort that welcomed people into its heart and then nurtured the lot for a long time. I speak of it as such. Recent events seem to make for this belief and sentiment. I like the idea of bringing people in, not keeping them out. The world that is Stanton now has three new people to play in it and they will go eventually as we do with the passing of the ages.
Lisa has an educated mind. Her opinions are based on knowledge and the views of others. She is considerate of those around her, she knows herself and her soul. She has emotional strength the envy of many and she is sophisticated, attractive and funny. What man would shun such a person? To me, she has come on the lifeboat for Stanton and it won’t be pushed away.
Lisa accompanied me to a ceremony recently that remembered my father, a NSW police officer slain in the course of his duties. It was a glimpse of time that has passed but is still accessible in one’s memory. Some of it is still painful even after many years. At the house there are some sad memories from a few years ago, but not many.
If I were a minister writing a few words on a wet Saturday morning with Stanton in mind I would choose Ecclestastes, Chap 3, verse 4:
To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heavens…a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
For the four caretakers of Stanton now is the time to dance.
09 Nov 2011 admin