Buttons are small daily objects that quietly connect things. They join things up, they hold us together. This blog features buttons as a way of reminding us of the little things that lie behind the actions we take to build strong communities.
The other part of this blog’s title represents the nourishment we get from participating in community life and that we can offer to others also. It is not the nourishment of the exotic, but the everyday sustenance of regular connections, ongoing work and play – bread rather than caviar.
It has been a gorgeous day today – clear blue sky, mild sunny weather, the smells of spring (wisteria blossoming, jasmine) and its colours (pansies in pots, marigolds, nasturtiums). There are babies being born too – notably for me this week a sighting of a brood of ducklings in the parklands when I was in the city for an event. Walking along beside a man-made waterway, there was a family gathered together on a little bridge across said streamlet. I wonder how they will live, these urban birds, surrounded by the sounds of cars and the commonness of concrete. I hope they find ways to express their duck-ness amid the built up world, alongside their city pals, the magpies and sparrows.
Here are some random shots, taken this week (including the ducks) (and the nasturtiums)…
bunch of nasturtiums blazing away on the dressing table
ducklings and parents
Magpies singing on a lawn near work
Mum and bubs
Sparrow in the cafe again
Creek in Auburn with reflection of new leaves
Ducks, two adults and ducklings, adults both standing on one leg
Adults and babies again
Sparrow in a cafe (painting of the sea as a backdrop)
Nasturtiums in the garden
Tan not at her finest, just before taking her to the vet in March
Dad and Tan, classic position
Another classic pose – the sleeping beauties
Helen, dad watching footy and the cat asleep in classic position
Looking ancient, sunning herself in an old box
Licking the spoon from dad – another classic shot
The last photo of the two of them – cat with skin cancer on her nose – taken on Father’s Day
A sad post today, recording the death of dad’s cat, always known as the Old Tan Cat, or Tan for short. She was ancient, and had been packing up health wise for some time, so it is no surprise, but sad sad sad anyway. She came to us when mum was still alive (she was an adult then, so not sure how old she really is). When she was ill, Tan was a great companion and solace for her too, sitting on her lap or curled up on the bed beside her. Since mum’s death, dad has definitely become her champion, and in turn she has been very loyal and faithful to him – following him around, and gazing at him adoringly while stretched out across him. He said that she would even sit underneath his walker if he went outside for a bit of sun.
Pets have a way of getting right into our hearts – certainly they provide us with daily ways to express our love and care. Dad has been cossetting the cat for years, and particularly in the past 6 or 12 months, as she has been getting more frail. We took her to the vet in March, thinking that it might be the end then. She detested the trip up in the cat box, and was furious and spitting, hissing at the vet – a sign that she wasn’t as bad as we had thought perhaps (apparently tortoiseshell cats are renowned for being temperamental – the vet staff called her a ‘naughty torty’). They gave her some anti-inflammatory tablets, which helped her a lot – she was positively skittish for a while, and we had an extra 6 months with her. Dad fed her all her favourite things – he even had me cook some food for her last weekend, to see if that would tempt her, and he made her a little cat box lined with old shirts and holy singlets to keep warm and dry in winter. He was pretty firm with her too though – he didn’t let her sleep on his bed, and after a while, she just never went to his room. She would come inside on cold nights though. I loved seeing them together and will be very sad myself not to have her about. I have done posts about her before and her death yesterday links a little with one of these. Dad went for a walk late yesterday afternoon, not long before sunset. He gave the cat a pat on the way out – she was sitting in the driveway. It seems she followed him out to the road as she had done many times before, and by the time dad got back to her, she had died. Thankfully she didn’t seem to have been in too much pain – if she had been, we would have taken her to the vet – and lived her normal life, just slowly, right to the last.
I will go up there today and stay for the weekend and she will be buried near the other cats down by the lilac tree.
Trees across the river
Gorgeous mosaic posts at the entrance to someone’s house
Mosaic posts in context
Looking east and back towards the new main road and bridge, plus yellow of canola crop
The old bridge (and the old main road)
The house that goes with the mosaic posts
Bridge and shadows
Quarry – looking into the sun so you can’t really see it
River and surrounds
Undalya Tennis Club 1936 gates (and my shadow)
Plaque on the gate that indicates that the land for the tennis club was given to the community by Mr LJ Carman Esq as a Centenary gift in 1936
Old building near the bridge
Looking down towards the township from cemetery hill
Cemetery from the road
Maker’s mark on the bridge
Looking into the sun – barn in paddock
Farming in action
Old shop ruin
Blossoms at the shop
Through the bridge – west
Creek looking south west
Big pepper tree next to the bridge
Looking down towards trees from the bridge
Tree north east of the bridge
Through the bridge – east (not also Masterman’s cows)
Ruin of the old shop
Blossom at the shop
Reeds in the river looking east
From the bridge looking west (into the sun)
Old shop ruin and trees
Tree near the new bridge
Interior walls – old shop ruin
New bridge and main road from the old
I was in Auburn again today, and this afternoon went with dad for a little drive, just a few k’s down the road to Undalya. This is a tiny town, hamlet perhaps would be a better word, which has a few houses, an ex-tennis court (the gates are there), a cemetery, an old bridge, the river (Wakefield – it flows through Auburn too), a former school and almost nothing else. These little towns, past their prime, languishing, often beautiful in their own way, are all over the place in South Australia. Remnants of a time when getting from A to B was more time-consuming, and the need for settlements with a few amenities and a store made such places viable for a time. I’ve been through Undalya hundreds of times of course, but the actual township, if you could call it that, is west of the main road, nestled around the old bridge and the old road, which was bypassed a year or two before I was born. Dad and I went this back way today, and I was so struck by how lovely it is. It was late in the afternoon, and the sun was in precisely the wrong place for photos, but made for really beautiful light. The hills behind the town are wearing their winter green, and the creek running through it has water. Masterman’s dairy cows feed contentedly over the way, and all is serene. We went up the back road a way to the cemetery. The Catholic Church that was attached to it was demolished, again just before my time. I think its bell went to the Methodists in Auburn, and stones from it have been reused in housing also.
I seem to be in the midst of a theme of transience in this blog, and with it a sense that life itself as it passes leaves us with hints of itself, passing glances, things seen from the corner of the eye, but which dissolve into nothing if you try to clutch them. Today I felt this again in this little hint of a town, notions of time and lives lived quietly and unassumingly by the river, now and in the past.
Father’s Day today so thinking of dad and the many happy times I have had with him. He is slowing down, and gradually moving towards the end, so it is good to appreciate the time I spend with him now. We went for a walk today, up and down the street, prunus trees blossoming, and between showers.
It is impossible to convey the entirety of relationships, especially with important people. I think the poets do it best, like Ted Kooser whose father poem I have written about before, as I have the prunus trees. And since the whole thing is impossible, it’s best to make do with the hint of a photograph, a moment in time, one foot ready to land, red cap like a furled flag almost ready to fly.
It’s been a mild winter till the past week or two. Today was really windy and wild, with squalls of rain interspersed with a cool sunny spells. With the grey skies and subdued colours in the landscape, it’s lovely to see the blooms of red hot pokers around warming things up. I have been looking out for the plants over the past couple of weeks.
Here are some pictures.