Our trees are bare.
End of Autumn.
Winter is here.
There was snow on the Orongorongos yesterday!
The time of year when it’s a bit more of a struggle?
There was a time on the mountain when it became a little bit more of a struggle. I was fifteen, my little sister two years younger.
Just three of us left on the mountain, Mum and us two girls.
At this time we didn’t have a vehicle, a working washing machine or mower or generator.
The little creek had washed out, now a crevasse, too wide to jump, the walls too steep and too deep to step down into to cross.
With no car to drive across it anyway, we lay down planks, a makeshift foot bridge.
Everything we needed, we’d carry up the mountain.
Gas for the stove, petrol for the generator, food.
We’d bring groceries home with us on the school bus.
At the bottom of the mountain the bus would deposit us at the side of the road surrounded by our bags of groceries.
We would fill our back packs and distribute the remaining groceries to evenly weight our arms and, with our shoes switched out for gum boots, we’d head toward home.
Down through the pine forest out into the open, sharp eyes peeled for the killer cows, across the big creek, through the gate into Billy’s property, safe now from the killer cows with their knarly Brahman horns that could, in one swoop, impale you, expelling your final breath. Yes, we had active imaginations, but they were truly terrifying. They would come toward us with their big eyes and scary humps and horns…and the bull! We could never shut the gate with them on the other side quick enough, though we would never run, they would run after us and they could run faster…those horns at speed?! It was a flat peaceful forest walk through Billy’s property, only having to contend with the wildlife, snakes and goannas that would dart away at the mere crackle of our footstep. Up the first big hill, down through the bush, a gentle slope at first with a steep drop into a valley. A flat walk along the base of the valley to the little creek, across our makeshift foot bridge and then up the final long steep hill. Home at the top.
It was during this time that a very kind uncle of ours, who had once owned a bicycle shop, designed a person powered cart for us. Two mountain bike wheels on either side of a large square basket (about a metre square), with a sturdy extended padded trolley handle. You could push or pull it. Or, as we did, on the steep hills, with heavy loads, one would pull and the other push. Or if the three of us, two pull and one push, or vice versa.
It was with this trolley that we carted a washing machine up the mountain, a lawn mower, (a new second hand generator?) and once, with the help of our visiting brothers, a gas bottle, one of those ones almost as tall as you and unbelievably heavy, if you tried to budge a full one, you couldn’t (well, I couldn’t). I’ve just looked up the weight of a full one, about 160kg, I would have been about 50kg at the time. If I remember correctly we had both our brothers helping us, mum and us two girls. We had to take the basket off, lay the gas bottle down, strap it securely and then up long steep climb to the house, two pulling and three pushing? Regular rests, all hands and legs holding it tight, careful to not let it go shooting off down into the valley to explode spectacularly.
Those were the odd occasions, our regular week was just carrying school books, life’s essentials, groceries and petrol.
We’d carry half filled (full was too heavy for us) five gallon plastic containers of petrol on our fronts in our arms, was it because we failed to bring the empty trolley down the mountain on those days?
We were fit and strong.
Every day when I come home to our little cottage and there is electricity, light at the flick of a switch, a gas fire to warm us, a short walk (to carry groceries) from the garage to the house, I am grateful.
Though I still wash the dishes by hand 🦎
Fridays harvest 🌱
Have a wonderful day!