Thursday 26 January

Normally we would volunteer today in the Food Garden at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens but, because Australia has a gazetted public holiday, this month we could give it a miss or choose another day of the week. For some, the 26th is labelled ‘Australia Day’ to recognise Captain James  (Uncle Jimmy to the indigenous population) Cook’s voyage of discovery nearly 250 years ago when he informed the British government he had found a continent that was ‘terra nullius’. For 3% of Australia’s population, those indigenous peoples whose ancestors have lived across Australia for 60,000 years, and possibly more than half the rest of our nation’s peoples, January 26th was familiarly titled ‘Invasion Day’ and now is represented as ‘Survival Day’.  That we need a celebratory day, which reminds all our people of a positive and happy experience, becomes a much discussed issue each January. Yesterday, my friends and I raised our glasses with a toast to our indigenous peoples, who are part of the longest living civilisation on earth. I look forward to a day when the invitation offered by the Uluru Statement from the Heart is accepted . It asks Australians to walk together to build a better future by establishing a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty making and truth-telling.

So, this week’s volunteering efforts occurred on Wednesday; a stunningly beautiful summer day with the heat of the sun beaming strongly onto our sun hats and burning into our backs.

Only three weeks ago I pruned the kiwi fruit vines – but there they were, growing again, with their long straggly arms waving up into and out into any space they could find. Eager to grow.

 I set to, and nipped these new protrusions back, leaving two nodules on each stem from which spring growth should flow.  At home I had similarly clipped my kiwi fruit and now, after a fortnight, the searching arms are wrapping themselves higher and higher around my balcony. A tall ladder and secateurs will be called into action soon!  Meanwhile, at the Food Garden, my fellow volunteers neatened up garden beds, by weeding and raking.

I remembered that more shallots were harvested last week and would have been drying off inside the garden shed. It was time to top them and remove flaking skins. Another box was readied for charity.

Then dozens of ‘stem lettuce’ seedlings were brought from the nursery.  These were planted in a bed that contained the scattered plants of self-seeded purslane, coriander and mustard.

Simple pleasures. Happy casual chats with visitors. Simple gardening.  Who needs more than that!

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