January 3, 2014

The summer heat is like a bully, bearing down on everything, slamming us with its heavy fists. None of the nuance of an autumn morning, where crisp air can hold a warmer hint. Summer pushes its way in, flattens the weak and shrugs past the strong.

Yet somehow, it’s also a time of abundance. I wake up and see a massacre of small flies littered next to my pillow. They were buzzing me so much last night that reading became a noisy, chaotic ordeal, and I turned out the light mid-sentence. I go out to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and there is a puddle of their dead bodies on the floor, in a circle under where the kitchen light was on. They are sprinkled on the table next to the laptop where I was working. Their dead bodies blow in the breeze. I sweep them up into a black pile and throw it out onto the silverbeet. I won’t let so much energy and ex-life go completely to waste.

I go up to the top garden to water the tomatoes before it gets too hot. They get some mulch too, to help them through another day. One clump of tomatoes has either been burnt right off or been eaten by something, possibly grasshoppers. The wallabies don’t like tomatoes, and are even deterred from eating other things by their presence.

Seed packets might say ‘germinates in 14 days, pick in 6 weeks’, but there’s no guarantee. They haven’t factored in the sudden blast of furnace-air, the sudden gust of wind, the wallaby that eats the delicious new shoot or the bandicoot that burrows underneath it, sending its new developing roots out of the nourishing soil and into heartless exposure. They don’t warn you about the heartbreak of getting a seed germinated, planting it out and staking it only to find some creature has bounded through the patch during the night, upturning the stakes and the seedling. Seed packets are aspirational, projecting a mirage on your horizon. Just don’t die of thirst as you try to reach it.