Friday, February 2

Rivers & Streams

First of all here is SG's Happy Stars quilt, all backed quilted & bound. It feels so good to have achieved a finished product! We are collecting him from pre school today, so I will give it to him when we bring him home. And this is a pic of Leo, lying on the bathroom tiles, which is one of his favourite spots in the hot weather. He has one of 'Daddy's' socks, which he likes to sneak, then carts them about with him. He must be growing out of his teenage stage, as he is not nearly as destructive now, & hasnt chewed any shoes for some time!

I have been remembering holidays spent with a favourite Aunt & Uncle. They moved about with their work on farms, before they got their own farm.
One house they lived in was situated above a wide river flat. There were Poplar trees down on the grassy flats, & in the spring, when they were budding with leaves, we would sometimes see deer come down to drink from the river, & graze on the lush green grass. They looked beautiful in the misty morning light, & would quite often return in the evening, for another graze.
If they got startled they would flee like lightning, & disappear into the bush above the river flats.
In the deer hunting season, my Uncle would go deer stalking with friends. I never really thought a great deal about it, it was something the men did in those days, but now, I would not approve at all. I can still see the antlers hanging in my Uncle's shed.
The farm was a sheep farm, & shearing time was always a busy time. The dogs would all be excited, & the sheep would be mustered & brought into the yards, ready to be shorn.
I loved the smell of the fleeces, & didnt particularly mind the smell of sheep manure either. The shearing shed was almost magical, with the smells & the shiny wood from all the lanolin of the fleeces. The sheep would all wait under the shearing shed, & then be chased up the races to the shearing posts. As the shearers finished their sheep, they would release them, & grab the next one. It was fast & furious, hot sweaty work, usually in hot weather, & the shearers usually wore black woollen singlets, & old lanolin coated pants, & sugar bag 'shoes' they made themselves, by sewing hessian sacking with twine, into mocassin type shoes.
The fleeco's would collect the fleeces & throw them onto a table, where they would take all the dirty & ragged edges from them & pass them on to be packed in the huge bales, where they would be pressed. It was amazing how many fleece it took to fill a bale. The fleeco's were often girls, & they were very skilled & quick at their job. When I was young I used to think I would like to be a fleeco, but I doubt I would have had the stamina!
The shearers lived in quarters on the farm, & had their own cook, for breakfast & tea, but usually it fell to the farmer's wife to provide 'smoko', which meant plenty of scone cooking & baking to be done. I cant recall, but I think the tea they drank at smoko time was brewed at the shed.
We were not encouraged to hang about the shearing sheds too much when we were young- partly so we didnt get underfoot & become nuisances, & partly because of the colourful language I suppose.
I used to have a friend who came to stay, & we would spend hours down at the creek, which ran quite close to the shearing sheds. We would build dams in the creek, & smear ourselves all over in mud, to try to deter the sandflies from biting us!
I remember one of the old Maori men who worked for my Uncle, was always amused to see L & I smeared black with mud, L, with her almost white hair, & me with blonde hair. I wonder if he thought we were aiming to look like Maori children.
We loved the smell of that creek, & the 'clean' running water it contained. It ran into the large river on the flat, & it was a very clear, shallow, wide river, with beautiful rounded river stones, & it made a lovely gurgling, almost chuckling, sound as it ran over the stones. I can still see the little trails of the green moss like growths on the stones, reaching out like green hair, or little feelers, as the current waved them to & fro, & streamed them out from the stones.
When my father was away at war, my mother & I lived with my Grandparents for a while, & they lived in a steep gorge, carved by a wide & sometimes swift river. The steep hills on the other side of the river, were bush covered & very forbidding looking. I was never allowed to go near the rive alone, but sometimes my Grandmother, or Grandfather would take me down to get some water. I was always enthralled by the river, & the wonderful stones, & the smell of it, which is so unique.
I think a river running gently over stones is one of the most relaxing of all sounds, & I defy anyone to remain tense in those surroundings. I also think the smell is a contributing factor in the relaxation & it seems sad to think so many rivers & streams are now so polluted.
Of course the rivers in flood were a different scene altogether, & the river below my Aunt & Uncle's house could flood when the rain was heavy, so much so, that it would cut access to the roads out, & they would be stranded for days sometimes. And all the grassy flats would be underwater.
That farm was magical to kids. It had trellises, covered in Kiwi fruit- which were known as Chinese Gooseberries in those days. There were lemon & orange trees which would be laden with fruit, & a wonderful Christmas Plum, from which we would pick buckets of plums for jam & preserving. And there was what had been a 'formal garden' planted by a former farmer's wife. It had gone to rack & riot, & there were thickets of bamboo, which were so much fun to play hide & seek amongst. And unruly Japonica- to be avoided, as the thorns were so vicious!
Looking back I know I had some wonderful times. Why do sad times leave such deep footprints in our hearts.
It is very odd, as I was writing this, I forgot where I was, & I felt transported back to the shearing shed, & the river flats. They were wonderful holidays.


aunty evil said...

ahh, meggie, another lovely quilt, this one is just beautiful!

I enjoyed reading your story, keep em coming!

tracey petersen said...

WOW you have worked quickly to complete the quilt. It looks wonderful and is sure to be much loved.
Loved the creek story. My grandfather had a very small creek flowing through his 10 acre property in Rockhampton. We used to collect rocks and make dams too. It was such fun and we went to bed exhausted each night.

joyce said...

We had a creek when I was young and it was a big part of our life. We have one where we live now, too, and the grandchildren spend a lot of time down there making dams etc.
You should consider collecting all these posts and making them into a book.

Stomper Girl said...

Hope SG loved his quilt, it looks fab.

Molly said...

I'm with Joyce on the book idea! How fast did you finish that quilt,start to finish?? It looks great.
I remember seeing sheep being sheared on my uncle's farm, and how skinny and naked the shorn sheep looked! Saw an episode of "Dirty Jobs" recently where they showed alpacas being sheared. They looked even funnier naked than the sheep...

DubiQuilts - Debbi said...

SG is going to love his new quilt. You did an outstanding job!

I love reading your stories about being a kid. To me it sounds like you had a lot of fun, even with the bad times.

meggie said...

Hi all, I am nost sure how long it took me to complete that quilt, start to finish. I just worked on it when I felt like it, & found I really enjoyed it.
I gave it to SG & when he got home, he showed his father then rushed off to put it on his bed. He loves the bugs & butterflies, too.

I have not really thought about writing in any serious way. I know my brother gets a lot of pleasure reading the stories, as he wasnt always there for some of the holidays I had. Some of my friends who know me, read the blog also, & of course there are my blogging friends who tell they enjoy the stories. Sometimes I am surprised at how clearly I remember it all. The little white haired girl I used to play with, died when she was young. In my mind she still lives, forever young & white haired. I only ever saw her when I stayed with the Aunt & Uncle.

Henri said...

Meggie ,
Very true , I do indeed get great peasure from reading your stories. DO write a book ! -- In many ways " our stories " - often your memories coincide with mine , but from a different persective .
Do you remember too, the heavy & sickly, to me, scent of the laden to breaking point with mature and over mature fruit fig tree at that farm ? In the fruiting season it was always swarming with " German Wasps " ( introduced to NZ only after the 2nd World War too ! ) I loathed the fruit , but loved the jam !

meggie said...

Oh Henri, I had forgotten the figs.. some of our beloved Mary's favourite fruit, & I love them too. But the wasps were truly evil & to be avoided. How curious, I had comepletely forgotten them?
I love the huge terrace on that house, & the wonderful view of the river? Do you remember that?

Henri said...

Meggie ,
I do indeed remember the magnificent view of the river , the flats and the rugged bush beyond & the sight of the deer feeding on the flats in the evenings especially -- Also several times whole families of wild pigs that had come out of the bush to feed on the flats , They would have had to swim the river , I think ? Can't imagine them on that skinny ' swing bridge ' ?
Strange you had forgotten the figs and wasps!

Ali Honey said...

Meggie, lucky SG. It's lovely.
As I grew up on a farm in NZ your story all rings true with me.I spent many long hours working in the shearing shed as the press stomper down when small and later as the fleeco. We were allowed to get the money from the fleeces of the pet lambs we fed and raised! Later when first married I was the one feeding the shearers ...boy could they eat . I never knew how they could bend over after lunch.I had to provide cooked breakfast morning and afternoon teas and cooked dinner mid day. ( very good training)

Jeanette said...

Hi Meggie
Love the quilt its nice and bright im sure SG will love it.Leo is like my Clayton he loves to lay on the tiles in the laundry to try to cool down. love your story Thanks for sharing once again. Take care

Sheila said...

I'm here to say hello and thank you for visiting and leaving a comment on my blog..!
The quilt is lovely, and would be loved by any child lucky enough to have one made for them. The pup is cute too, and obviously know how to keep cool. Your story...looking back at your childhood was amazing..!
I too lost myself in it, and the picture you painted, with your words was as vivid as any patchworked quilt. What beautiful memories to have of childhood. As for the sad times leaving deep foot prints on our hearts...? Perhaps we need those to appreciate the good times and to remember to make the most of them. Nice to meet you.

Lois R. said...

Meggie, Congrats on the finish!!! It looks great! Your grandson will LOVE it!

Your little Leo looks so cute! I have a kitty that takes socks... Hee hee.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Your quilt is amazing, you are so quick to finish them up! I'm impressed, exatly what kind of vitamins do you take? I need some of those! I loved your childhood tale of the shearing shed, you do seem to remember things with great clarity and wonderful detail... it must be those vitamins! ha!!

Diana said...

I can't believe you have that whole quilt done in so short a time--that is the (envious!) hand-quilter in me. LOL! Loved your story about the sheep shearing. You have such a talent for the little details that bring a story alive.

Quilting Kim said...

WOW, Meggie, you sure do work fast. I'm sure SG will be very surprised when you present him with his quilt - that is a gorgeous quilt.

Leo is so cute. Bailey has sort of outgrown his chewing habit, too. His new habit is to drink my tea, so I have to walk around with my tea cup because I just can't drink after him.