Tag Archives: Animals

Farewell owl

When I arrived back in Rushworth for a few weeks of rest/planning post-work and pre-travelling, I was delighted to discover an owl in the tree outside the kitchen window.

owl on FB

Who doesn’t love spotting an owl? I had never even seen one in Rushworth before. There is plenty of bird life but it took me by surprise to find this guy in the tree.

When I’m back in Rushworth, I can easily forget that I’m surrounded by animals. It’s like, totes real nature here. From inside the kitchen, MJ had noticed there were some birds in the tree making quite a racket. I decided to go take a look. I don’t know why. I might just as easily have glanced towards the tree and glanced away. When I got to the tree, the birds were dispersing…and I locked onto the owl. I called MJ out to take a look.

Except for that first time, when I saw it immediately, the owl was really hard to spot in the tree. When I went out to check on it a couple of times, I was sure it had flown away. But, if I persisted, eventually I would see it hidden amongst the foliage of the tree.

I kept an eye out for the owl, but not ever day. When I realised after a week the owl was still in the tree, I became obsessed. I would check on it every day and was fascinated by the way it would follow me around the yard with its eyes and swivelling kneck. I read up about owls of Victoria (this one is a Southern Boobok – I’m more familiar with the name mopoke owl). I reflected on the meaning of owls (FYI Wisdom, Mystery, Transition, Messages, Intelligence, Mysticism, Protection, Secrets) and wondered whether there was something I was supposed to get about this unlikely visitor.

A friend of mine, my partner in Martha Beck love, generously offered that I could be calling animals to me. I would have loved that, but it seemed I was feeling less intuitive than usual and probably just searching for meaning in an owl that had stopped by for a while.

I continued my cerebral search for answers because I didn’t feel up to much else. Despite having longed for space and time to explore the inner depths of life, the universe and everything, since leaving work all I really wanted to do was read novels, dig in the garden and cook dinner. The idea of meditating and reconnecting seemed a bit too hard right now, thank you. I didn’t mind, I was happy to rest. But I did wonder whether I was squandering this visit from the owl, or even worse, missing the point entirely that it was indeed not time for rest, but time for action. DEEP INTERNAL WISDOM-SEEKING MYSTICAL ACTION.

In addition to my gardening, cooking and reading I was also supposed to be planning for my trip. I’ve left planning to the last minute before (I’m a dreamer and schemer, not a planner). But I was heading off for three months in a few weeks and didn’t even know where I would fly to. I had ideas, but I didn’t have airfares and every day (nay, every hour) I wondered whether I should change my itinerary all together.

I would have LOVED some intuition, but my radar was broken. I was getting mixed signals all over the place – hence why planning was even harder than usual. My style of planning is forcing myself to sit down and look at options until one ‘feels right’. But nothing much felt right. It all felt neutral.

Have you ever thought about 11:11? I noticed 11:11 before I realised it was a thing that (crazy) people write about. Over the years I’ve come to feel reassured about life when I notice 11:11 on the clock. Consequently, I feel less reassured when I see 11:12 or 11:13. Well, for about a week I saw 11:12 and 11:13 more than even felt possible. Talk about sending a doubting intuitive into a spin! I don’t take any of this seriously enough to live my life by it, but I’m not nearly rational enough to be impervious against a ‘bad’ sign.

One night, I woke up in the middle of the night with a premonition that I’d been shot in the shoulder. Oh dear. When I can’t get a clear vibe on whether a decision I’m making is a good one (i.e. all those neutral feelings I’d been having), I assume it’s all bad and I’m walking into certain death or something worse. If I hadn’t been seriously doubting myself before, I was now. Was the reason why I couldn’t get good feelings about this trip because it was doomed?

I wrote to my Martha Beck-loving friend and told her about the premonition so that if I do get shot in the shoulder, it will make a good story afterwards.

Despite the gloomy premonition, slowly but surely I reluctantly locked in plans for my trip – I booked a round-the-world ticket, applied for a visa, set out an itinerary (well…a loose itinerary). Still with no clear sense that any of it was a good idea. Indeed, less than two weeks out from a month in India, all I know is when and where I fly in, and when and where I fly out.

I spent a couple of days hunched over my laptop trying to research more and more about destinations to ‘inform’ myself out of my indecision. Still…no signs from the universe. And any signs I was getting from the universe (a well-timed email, a phone call from India) didn’t feel quite right. Like the universe was TESTING ME! Oh universe…

Two days ago, I got up from being hunched over my computer and decided to go outside. If my intuitive radar had wanted to send me a sign, I had crowded out the signal with words and pictures on websites. I sat  near the owl for a while and just wondered about what I might like to do in India. I got a few whiffs of ideas – no bolt from the blue I’m afraid – but I did feel better.  I reminded myself that even if my intuition feels like it’s on the blink right now, it’ll come back in good time…if I let it.

Next day, owl was gone.

A day at the dairy

This weekend Meaghan and I visited a dairy farm in Tatura.

When I was little I mostly disliked dairy farms. They were smelly and muddy. I also disliked the fresh milk that our dairy farming friends delivered to us from time to time (recalled in this unpleasant dream many years later). I’m not a terribly squeamish person, but dairy farms tended to test my toughness.

So I was curious to visit a dairy farm again and see whether they are like I remember.

Mostly the answer is yes, the dairy farm was smelly and muddy, but it was a lovely sunny winter day so muddiness and smelliness were at a minimum.  This dairy farm was surprisingly inoffensive.

But you know what is interesting – how even someone like me who grew up near dairy farms acted like visiting a dairy farm would be an anthropological exercise. I would go there and be reminded of life on the land and meet salt of the earth people who I assumed I would disagree with politically but find a common humanity and how it would be a bridge between city and country folk.

This probably says a lot about me being an over-thinking, over-meaningful-ising person who lacks much consequential reality in her own life so she has space and time and the desire to find and create meaningful-ness. (oh, I think I just defined this blog!)

But it also says a lot about how cliches come from common experiences because I went there and met salt of the earth people and was reminded of life on the land. And even though we disagreed politically we enjoyed a common humanity. We also enjoyed common friends. Despite 45 years between us, the farmer and his wife were friends with a friend of mine from Rushworth.

This kind of experience is such an easy one that it shouldn’t be a revolutionary thing. We should just get out more and see for ourselves the way other people live. Dairy farmers 250kms from Melbourne, shop owners up the road, lawyers in the suburbs. Wouldn’t it be good to know each other better?

So I wonder why we don’t know each other better. Why, at every election we say “I honestly don’t know how X party won the election because I don’t know a single person who voted for them”. And why we think people who have come to different conclusions about things like a carbon tax and refugees must be simple-minded folk who just don’t get it or just plain mean. Well, of course you need to know someone before you can so casually call their intellect or kindness into question.

I suspect that humans can only cope with so much contrast and conflict in our daily lives, which is why we thrive on routine and find friends and partners with common values. We avoid meeting our neighbours in case we discover that our neighbours are racist or lonely or something else unappealing to contemplate. It allows us to skate through many days believing that we’ve got some semblance of order.

I enjoyed listening to this podcast with Terry Tempest Williams (yet another excellent episode of APM’s On Being) which explores the connections between people living close by one another geographically who have different ideas about what we need to prosper and how we should use the land.

Reducing community segregation might reduce situations like the one I heard about last week. A city-based student-run think tank was preparing a position paper on agricultural policy but didn’t bother talking to any farmers. I suspect they didn’t ask any farmers because it didn’t occur to them to. But when asked why they hadn’t (I paraphrase and hope I’m vaguely accurate), they thought it wasn’t really necessary because farmers aren’t policy-makers, they’re just farmers.

Roos in the bush

A few weeks ago, MJ and I went for a walk in the bush and bumped into a few kangaroos. It’s common to see one or two, but this mob was pretty cool. I didn’t want to get too close because they’re pretty bloody strong so I had to zoom.



Bee swarms and lavendar

Beck moved house a few weeks ago and the first day I was there I saw the strangest thing.

Bees. Lots of bees.

bee swarm 1

I heard them before I saw them. At about 12 pm they arrived and filled the back yard. At about 12.15pm they disappeared. There were many more than are visible in the photo.

The next day, at about 12pm. Same thing. 12.15pm – gone.

bee swarm 2

Nicer things to look at in the back yard include this lavender plant.


I haven’t seen any more bees since those first two days.


Jonathan Safran Foer Against Meat

Eleanor just shared the most wonderful article by Jonathan Safran Foer from the New York Times, Against Meat.


The main theme of the article is vegetarianism, but it also made me think about:

  • Living according to your values
  • Marriage
  • Raising children (I wondered if my generation could selflessly raise children and then I wondered if anyone has ever selflessly raised a child, or is a child always an expression/project of yourself)
  • Sacrifice for religion

Here’s the final section of the article. A conversation between him and his grandmother.

“The worst it got was near the end. A lot of people died right at the end, and I didn’t know if I could make it another day. A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into his house and came out with a piece of meat for me.”

“He saved your life.”

“I didn’t eat it.”

“You didn’t eat it?”

“It was pork. I wouldn’t eat pork.”


“What do you mean why?”

“What, because it wasn’t kosher?”

“Of course.”

“But not even to save your life?”

“If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”