Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Who knew logs could be so handy...?

This story is about something one of my aunties told me. 'Bout logs.

Okay so a few years ago I was going through a rough patch. I had a few really big life transitions and it was tough getting through it. I was completely stuck in my own head and incredibly anxious. It was a ridiculously huge year for me. If anyone has heard of the Holmes and Rahe stress scale I scored close to 400 that year - firmly within the "at risk" category.

My Mum, ever practical, whisked me off to the country after a particularly bad week, to my aunt and uncle's place in  NSW. They have this enormous piece of land, 90+ acres. They have a veggie patch and sheep. It was poddy season at the time and so I was given the job of checking on the Ewes every few hours to see if they were in labour or in distress.

Incidentally the first lamb was born 2 hours after we left (I was devo haha, isn't it always the way).

Anyway I think we stayed almost a week and it was a great one (even though at the time I was vulnerable). We took walks. We talked...a lot. We drank tea. I got my hands dirty in the garden and played with my cousin's new baby. Nothing like the country to keep you sane.

The thing from that week I'll never forget is my aunty taking me for a walk (/hike) one morning. We walked far down their property admiring the wild flowers and the scenery.

I was in total pity-party mode at the time and I asked my aunty why this was all happening to me. *shakes fist at the sky and wails 'whhhhhyyyy'.

My aunty is a lovely, wise lady. Deliberate and thoughtful. She considered her answer then delivered it beautifully. She pointed to the land and said:

"When we first bought this land it had been devastated my a huge flood. The flood had swept away most of the top soil. A lot of the plants and trees and shrubbery was completely swept away with that huge flood. So by the time we came along there wasn't a lot here."

(I was having trouble picturing it, coz of all the lovely plants see.)

Anyway she continued.

"We spoke to other farmers and in the end we had to get a bunch of logs and place them carefully around the land, in really strategic places. See, eventually a bit of soil here and there comes back and covers the land again, but without anything to hold it together as soon as the rain comes, it all gets swept away again.

"So we placed the logs where the soil would be caught. And then when the rains came again a lot of the soil was swept away again, but a little bit stayed behind this time, because it was caught by the logs. So the soil that remained, started to grow some moss, which was fantastic because when things grow in the soil the soil is held together by root systems.

"So then some of the soil with the moss remained behind, and the next year the birds flew over and pooped out seeds they'd eaten, and the seeds that landed on the soil with the moss sprouted with other little plants and started growing. Then when the rains came, the rain swept away a lot of the soil again. But this time even more remained behind, held together by the new root systems of the new plants and the moss.

"And then the following year when the birds flew over again and pooped out more seeds they had eaten, the seeds that landed on the larger patches of soil with the moss and the plants and sprouted and started to grow.

"And eventually after a few years shrubs started growing and the build up of top soil grew even bigger still. Until now when we look around there are trees, and shrubs, and plants, and wild flowers."

By this time you can imagine me staring at her, right? On the verge of a panic attack wondering why she was telling me how to rebuild land after a flood.

Anyway then she said, "Well, right now you've been devastated by some pretty big floods, Mary. But you've got logs, and lots of us. We'll catch the dirt till you've had a chance to regain your balance a bit, and eventually the birds will come over and poop on your head and the seeds they've eaten will grow in the dirt your logs are holding in place. And eventually you'll completely recover, just like this land did. And then you'll be more compassionate towards others in transition and you can help them with their logs too."

Okay she didn't say the pooping-on-your-head bit (I added that for fun) but you get my point.

And she was right.

It took time, lots of it. It took patience. I had so many logs holding my dirt in place while the birds did their thing and the rains came and would wash some of it away on occasion. But over time, I recovered.

And now I have moss and trees and flowers and birds pooping on my head putting in new seeds for new plants to grow.

And when my rains come it's not as devastating as it was then. Back then at times I felt you could have knocked me over with a feather. Not now, baby. Now it takes a sledgehammer to get this lady to fall over.

And I've got a few logs out there for people I care about too.

Who knew logs could be so handy, hey?


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