On the second morning of January – after a busy week of work that included night shifts and evenings – I awoke to find this beautiful orchid laying on the pillow beside me. Julian had been walking and found a grove of such delicate pretties under the gum trees. They are wild Hyacinth Orchids and only grow under a specific gum tree when the leaf litter is just right. After three years of living here, we have never seen them before. This year was just right and up they popped.
The thought of a whole grove of these blooms, hiding away under the trees on our land was just too delightful to ignore so – the homegrown version of all those English bluebell groves I have swooned over for decades – so, sore ankle, sleepiness and all, I shoved my feet into gumboots and off we went in search of orchids.
The Luppies came too – Luppy is our silly family name for our Maremmas. It came about when they first arrived as puppies – luppy puppies – lupkins – luppies – when wet mudlups. This wordplay happens all the time round here. I daresay by the time we’re wobbly and grey we’ll be able to write the Boot Family Dictionary. So those Luppies, they love any opportunity for an adventure with us and this one came with the added fun of a swim in Gus’ Pond. Luppies love swimming. Luppies love most things. They are very endearing dogs.
After traipsing down a steep hill, then ducking through a thicket of gums and bracken, there they were. At first, if I simply looked straight ahead, they weren’t obvious. There certainly wasn’t a smothering of them. But when I cast my eyes lower and let them adjust to the low, grey light of a damp morning, there were spire after spire after spire of beautifully speckled dusky pink orchids. It was utterly enchanting.
We didn’t pick any after that first one. They would only wither in a jar, and they are impossible to propagate – remember, only a certain gum, with a certain leaf litter, under certain conditions. And I didn’t want to disturb the habitat – I want them to have the best chance of reappearing year after year after year. More and more each time. Greedy I know.
The Luppies did indeed go swimming. And chased the scent of rabbits and foxes. And loped on back to us for enthusiastic slap-down cuddles. Luna Luppy is especially good at this – she’s also referred to as The Big Boof. Eva is Eva Beaver because she’s so earnest and sweet.
This season the blackberries are plump, the Salvation Jane prolific and the pasture is long and thick with seed heads. After such a long dry spell – almost two years – the regular rainfall this summer has been so very very welcome. I don’t think I’ve ever had such an appreciation for rain. Barely a day goes by when I don’t wish for a third tank hooked up to our roofs. Or another whole roof hooked up to the two tanks in the far top field – we pump to them from the dams so that we may water the animals that live up here on the hill. But imagine a whole barn there, with a whole roof, filling them with sweet fresh rain. Ahhhhhh! One day. And when the afternoon grows even hotter and stickier and our clothes our stuck to us with sweat – but the sky is getting that odd smooth grey sheen and the clouds are building up over the mountains to our west – we are hopping with excitement.
We made our way back via the chicken and turkey field – to drop Eva and Luna back to their day job. Noah was just coming through the gate to feed and water everyone. Sadly, we found that one of the newly hatched turkeys had not made it through the night. There’s always a moment of sadness when this happens. But its just how things happen. Noah carefully picked her up and she had a little burial in the herbaceous border under the dahlias.
Then it was back inside for coffee and knitting. A very hubbly jubbly start to the second morning of January.