Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Transplanting over: The Decadant Monster

She never did any housework.  She would garden all the morning & read in the afternoon. ~ S. Cane.

Place is important to me. There are places I walk in my dreams yet. Trafalgar Vale is one of those places. I can walk it room by room ~seeing, feeling, smelling, the house solid around me as it was when I was a child.

Odd I should remember it so well. It was not my house & it was old; a hundred years old even then. It smelt of the dust that drifted down from the ceiling in dank clouds, of overblown roses, red soil & Mama's eternal turps & thinners. The shower stood on a cement slab under the water tank & draped over its rafters lived the carpet snake that fed on the fat green tree frogs. It was geriatric, having the usual problems with its plumbing, & embarrassing leaks. Like its owner it was quirky. Perhaps that's why I loved it so much. The main bedroom wall sported a willow tree bearing peach blossoms. The bath got buried in the front garden as  a fish pond. The back door was painted in black & pink & purple stripes & at one time the fridge was also painted. A garish commode sat behind a curtain on the back verandah & the rail was home to a medley of ancient chamber pots. The loo was a *thunderbox* way down at the back fence amidst black clouds of mozzies & midgies.

Trafalgar Vale, far too snooty a name for a portly old lady tied at the waist with string, was my Aunt's house. I loved it as my aunt did for its faults, being as disinclined as she was to practical considerations over ambiance & that elusive sense of being at home. Besides there was the garden.

My Aunt was a gardener before she was anything else, a love she shared with my own mother & which created a friendship between two very dissimilar women because my Aunt was no housekeeper & her methods invariably made my mother cringe. Her garden was a tangled riot of exuberant plants, gracious old trees, secretive nooks & hidden corners. I remember the front verandah for its swathes of wisteria & golden alamander. It was a house & garden that had roots, good sturdy roots running from generation to generation, where the old stories got told & retold giving me a sense of belonging that I did not find in my modern, practical, organized home were I could not find reflections of myself.

A sense of belonging is important to a child. A sense of springing from a real past, of being a cog in something larger than oneself, of moving into the future, spring from that sense of belonging & so I was careful to tell the stories as I remember them, for the people to whom the stories happened have gone now. Some of them I only know through their stories. Others I remember but as I tread the wide boards of Trafalgar Vale in my dreams they crowd about me, all the dead. As a king once said, 'I will go to them, they cannot return to me.' But I do not think they care to be forgotten.


Ruby said...

Loved this post, Ganeida.
I feel the same way about my childhood abounding in rich memories of family and history and good, deep roots.
I also thing I would love your aunts type garden!

seekingmyLord said...

I did not feel this sense of foundation in my family until we lived with my maternal grandfather in his large, old home. I wish I could write like you in describing it.

Diane Shiffer said...

I love the way you write Ganeida... I could almost smell the house. and the back verandah. and the garden too☺

Ganeida said...

Ruby: you would have adored this old Queenslander! I really objected when my aunt sold it but of course it was too big & unweildy for her to manage any longer. The people who bought it have restored it beautifully, but you know, it lost something of its charm in the transformation.

Seeking: I don't think you find this at all in modern houses. They do not lend themselves well to storytelling ~ & councils do not like the old places so well. Their quirks can be deadly.

Persuaded: Everything in this house was *vintage*. You would have adored it! ♥

Pen Wilcock said...

I love the sound of this auntie and her house. I watch people like her with something similar to envy - I can't bear it if everything isn;t cleaned and tidied and kept in good condition - and I really admire people who can sit loose to events and possessions and just be their own true selves. Lovely house lovely garden lovely lady :0)

Ganeida said...

lol Ember: People like my aunt & I drive my mother crazy. ☺ She loves us to bits but our methods leave much to be desired in her book while we remain pretty much oblivious to everything but what presently obssesses us. It's a big world; room for all sorts.