Monday, November 14, 2011

More of the past; Love at first sight.

I have never found it easy to write from the heart; it relies too much on the courage to delve deep into your psyche, to face your vulnerabilities and expose them to the world.
Some years ago as a mature age uni student I had to write a personal reflective assignment for one of my first year units, Communication and Case Studies. The premise was that engineers don’t communicate well and so all budding first year engineering students had to maintain a journal for a semester, not writing anything useful – nothing technical or valuable, just reflecting on their emotions and feelings as a first year student.
I commenced mine with the proposition that “men of my age don’t have feelings” and wrote quite a few pages expounding on this hypothesis. No way was I mentally prepared to become a SNAG (sensitive new age guy). I studiously avoided any reference to thoughts and emotions and in spite of this, or just possibly because of this, I attained a distinction for my efforts.

Now a little older, I realise it is time to try again , reflecting on life, love and happiness. If a man is lucky he has two great enduring loves of his life, one is his wife and the other is his mistress. A wife is forever and though his time with his mistress may be short and bitter sweet, nevertheless she will always remain an important part of his life.

At the grand old age of nineteen, I first discovered love; something that I hadn’t ever known was missing in my life. After working in the bush for a couple of years, I went to Brisbane for a short holiday and met a stunning young lady who took my breath away. She wore a yellow blouse with a small giraffe embroided on the left breast, a tailored black skirt and was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.  Wide brown eyes, a mop of curly hair; I was in love! Totally gone. Our first date was with a couple of her girl friends in tow as chaperones. Obviously hopeless romantics, we went to see Rocky IV. Not too sure what it was about. I can no longer remember how but we managed to ditch our chaperones somewhere early in the evening and ended up at King George Square.  Nineteen eighties King George Square was light years away from the grubby concrete expanses of today, it was a parklike oasis in the heart of the city with plenty of quiet seclude spots for young lovers to while away the evening.
Michelle Stradbroke Island 1980
I wouldn’t call it a whirlwind romance; a whirlwind has connotations of frenetic wasted energy, rather it was an instant connection of the heart. For the first time in my life I bought jewellery, a silver chain and a small white gold heart with a diamond in the centre. Her parents were definitely not impressed.

Five days later I asked Michelle to marry me. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that we were meant to be together. We kept it quiet for all of two days while I bought a diamond solitaire engagement ring and publicly announced our engagement on April fools day.  For some strange reason, nobody seemed to believe us – stunned silence would have to be an understatement.  The hardest part was ringing the girl that I had been going out with only a week earlier and telling her I was engaged. I may be mistaken but I got the distinct impression she may have been just a little miffed.

We were engaged for just over twelve months maintaining a true platonic relationship until we were married. Looking back their seems to be no good reason why we waited but at the time it was important to Michelle and if you really love someone, you accept, however reluctantly, their decision. I was also living over a thousand kilometres away, which made it a little easier, though for some strange reason I acquired a life long aversion to cold showers.

Getting married 1981

In over thirty years the passion has never dimmed, the flame has never flickered. Michelle has been my greatest strength and my ultimate weakness, my soul mate and lover as we journey through life, hand in hand.

And I must not forget the mistress – lets just say she was four years older than me, a dignified American lady of impeccable breeding. No one will ever describe her as beautiful; she was already long obsolete by the time she left Lock Haven, Pennsylvania in 1956, a stubby little tube and fabric aeroplane born into a world of streamlined polished aluminium, a deafeningly noisy relic of an earlier time, but she flew like a homesick angel and kept my young family safe in the air for many years - but that is another story for another time.   
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nooooo........ It's Nesting Season

More on our geese and their nesting ups and downs.

They are so cute.
This is our first time amid goose nesting season and boy I don’t know if I want to go through it again next year. It’s drama upon drama and I’ve been on tender hooks watching out for the goslings all the time. I seem to be glued to the telescope and binoculars during the day counting the different groups of goslings to make sure they are all still there. We’ve got a few different hatching times which means there’s some bigger goslings and some very small ones. The smallest goslings belong to Hoppy (she hurt her leg awhile ago and has a slight limp) and her partner Mr Hop. They were the last pair to hatch their brood and I think they are first time parents. I am always keeping an eye on this family as she has already lost two little fellas. I hate it when animals die I get a bit upset. I remember years ago always bawling my eyes out whenever any of my poddy lambs died. I had little graves for them all over the place. Silly I know but what can you do.

Some of the sweet little darlings.
The first lot of goslings to hatch were Deloraine grey girl’s brood. She did a very good job and kept all six of them nice and warm and together with her. When it was time to leave the nesting box and take them out into the big wide world she had an entourage of minders willing and ready to help her keep them safe. These included three of last year’s male goslings and two other grey girls who each had failed attempts at nesting. They made their nest on a slope and they also co nested together. Every time they fussed with the eggs they’d move down the slope a bit further and some of the eggs would end up not under them and hence got cold. Every day I’d come outside and they wouldn’t be in the same place as yesterday.  Next to hatch hers was Mrs Quiffy, so called because she has a quiff of feathers on top of her head and it looks like a quiff hairstyle.  She outdid everyone else and hatched eleven little darlings in the corner of the chook pen underneath where the chooks roost. Thank goodness the chooks always stick their bums the other way when roosting so she never got poo rained on her and the nest.  She’s hatched a family before so she’s a good mother and she also ended up with some minders to help her and Mr Quiff out.

Out for a stroll. Mum, Dad, goslings and Minders.
Next lot of goslings to hatch were from Mr and Mrs Ostracized. I named them this because leading up to mating and nesting season this couple were always getting banished from the group. They nested nicely in one of the nesting boxes and had five goslings. They are a good couple and look after their brood well. Last lot of successful hatchings are of course Mr and Mrs Hop and their three. It’s amazing the size difference between the first lot and this last lot with just a matter of weeks between them. Now last but not least is the poor other grey girl who decided to nest in one of the chook nesting boxes. She sat for ages but for some reason she wasn’t successful. She was so desperate to become a mum that one day we checked on her and she had pinched one of the chook eggs we had put under the clucky chook in the nesting box next to her. We know it was from there because it had the date written on it. We felt sorry for her so we gave her some chook eggs of her own to sit on. We are now awaiting the outcome of this. We also have two other clucky chooks sitting on eggs on top of hay bales. We will be overrun by chickens soon. Oh no, not more poultry worry. Nahhh the chooks will be right looking after their own………….I hope.

One of the clucky chooks nesting on hay bales.
The unsuccessful grey girl now sitting on chook eggs in the chook box.