Monday, January 30, 2012

By Sea and By Land

We still have more than a third of summer left, but celebrating Australia Day always makes it seem as if we're nearing its end. The kids here in Tassie still have a couple of weeks left of their summer holidays, but just about everyone except teachers is back at work with only memories of holidays for this year.

So, before we move any further from the sun, I want to catch you up on a few things from the past month.

The tall-masted leaders approaching the Iron Pot lighthouse
First, we had a fantastic day on December 28. It's the first time we've been here then, and from our back deck we had a great view of the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race. (Although I believe that there is significant reason to rename it the Hobart-from-Sydney race. We certainly call it that already.)

The flotilla welcomes the leader passing Kingston Beach
It was a pretty summer's afternoon when the first two yachts came into view. LK had made mojitos as we transformed the back deck into our very own corporate hospitality box.

It was the closest result in the race in decades, and it was quite special seeing these two huge sets of sails loom out of the ocean haze and approach the Iron Pot on their way past our place down the Derwent River to the finish line in Hobart.

I remember my Dad once commenting that yacht racing was about as exciting as watching grass grow. To non-sailors like me, that is undoubtedly true. But on a beautiful summer afternoon, it was fun watching a couple of those massive sails looming hugely over the dozens of smaller boats that came out to welcome them to our city at the end of their 2 1/2 day race. Of course, the mojitos didn't hurt the ambience.

The rest of January has been much more focused on land than sea, as we tended to our garden. What looked easy at the beginning, needless to say, is not quite the cup of tea it seemed. We lost all of our peas to pea blight (which is just about as bad as it sounds) and several of the tomatoes went down to fungus. The good news there is that still leaves us with about 25 tomato plants.

The veggies do seem to grow well here, and if we were growing them for their leaves we would be deilghted with the results. Unfortunately the bits we do want to eat are coming along but more slowly than we hoped - even adjusting for the climate. But with sunny warm weather forecast for this week, we remain optimistic gardeners.

Mind you,  we have eaten a little bit of our efforts. I think the radishes are averaging $85 a bunch and the one zucchini I did cook wouldn't have cost us more than $30 to grow. On the other hand, the beans are coming along niceley and were very tasty with dinner the other night. The carrots, beets and parsnips look quite promising. The cantaloupe (rock melon here in Oz) looked like it was growing brilliantly until we realized yesterday that what we were nurturing was a weed and the melon was dead. (This is, after all, a learning year!)

I have such great memories of the garden my grandfather had in Rutland. And every summer my Uncle Bob and cousin Jerome pop round to my folks with enough stuff from their gardens to start a farmers market. So I know there's some farmer genes somewhere in my makeup. Now if I can only figure out how to make them come to the fore.

It's not quite a cornucopia yet, but the garden is definitely coming in:

Yellow and green beans, oddly round zucchini, the first little squash, weird purple carrot, strawberries,a very late spring onion and a very badly shaped RolyPoly carrot that is supposed to be round

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