Saturday, February 04, 2012

Magpies and memories

While J and I walked the cliff top this morning this magpie was catching the odd worm. We have two varieties of magpie in Australia, the black backed and as you can see here the white backed. These are our local ones.
They are capable of eating lizards but seem to prefer worms. When they sing, or carol as we call it the sound is quite beautiful.
We have several families around the garden and close farm area here, they can be a bit nasty during mating season as some get it into their heads that we humans are an enemy and they swoop, you can get a nasty hole in the back of your head if they hit you, luckily we have not had any swooping magpies close here for a long time.
I remember as a child at my grandmothers cottage in the country having to wave a large leafy stick every time we went to the outside loo (dunny) in the mating season as there was a family of swooping magpies with a nest in the large gum tree under which the loo stood.
Talk about outside loos!(the smell, phenol and ashes and cut up newspaper!!) and wood stoves and kerosene lamps and the Coolgardie safe to keep food cool and getting ice from the bus in a wheelbarrow to put in the zinc lined ice chest. A water bag hanging on the veranda full of water to keep it cool.
Water got from the well with a rope and bucket when in the summer the rain water rain out, the jersey house cow for the best cream.
A wash in front of the fire at night and a bath once a week, children last, no wonder I dont like baths (that scummy water almost cold by the time the rest of the household had finished, the so called bathroom was freezing cold in winter, hot in summer).
Yet as a city child I loved those school holidays with my grandmother.
No fans, no electricity even, my grandmother who had come out from England was a tough person, yet she had known a very good life in the UK.
A fantastic cook, she made the lightest sponges in that wood stove and I remember her lemon curd (always made to sell at fetes), pavlovas and helping her to make butter.
In her day a beauty with some decidedly odd family history( not sure how many marriages or non marriages she had!) I often wonder how she coped with it all.
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Robin Mac said...

Wonderful memories Penny, I can relate to those. did you ever experience carbide lamps - very bright light, but oh the smell! Zinc lined charcoal cool rooms were all the go in our district - with the hose running over the walls to keep stuff cool. How times have changed. I hated the old heavy flat irons which we had to use when the power was not on. The Mrs. Potts irons were a wonderful invention. The younger readers probably don't have a clue what we are even talking about! Cheers

Wanda..... said...

Your fond memories of your grandmother are the same as mine for my great-grandmother, almost exact in every detail. Loved eating her homemade butter on fresh baked bread, which she baked in an enormous stove with a cast iron top. Lovely post, Penny!

annie said...

You brought it all back, Penny. Our well never ran dry and how I loved a fresh drink from the dipper in our bucket at the sink. That is until we found a dead cat floating in the well. Then they added a lot of disinfectant to water which we tasted for months... The tin tub by the coal stove in the winter-- I froze...As for the loo--phoo. From 5-years-old on I would sneak next door to use their inside bathroom. I'd make polite conversation as long as I could before asking to visit their restroom-- I bet they timed me...


virginia said...

I experienced it firsthand while staying with you at your grandmother's. Do you remember we always took a sprig of wormwood with us when we went outside because of the flies? You probably still do it! I also remember my mother labouring over a wood stove during our holidays at Port Willunga. She didn't try sponge cakes though, but did a good job with roast lamb and fish on boiling hot days. I remember your grandmother's butter, the oil lamps and the wrigglers in the drinking water. We had those at home as well. But we were much more alive than our city kids today who spend their lives looking at you tube on their laptops. It was -12° here on the balcony this morning. But wonderful sunshine and blue skies, so we can't complain. Lots of love,