Overwintering: to bring plants and animals indoors to wait out the winter; to hibernate or migrate to warmer climates until the winter passes.

Hello. Yes, it’s me, that voice coming from somewhere deep underneath blankets, jumpers, coats and scarves. I’ll just take my gloves off so that I can type better.

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I’ve had to bring George indoors. He’s a Sydney rock orchid and this is not his preferred climate. At the moment I’m not sure it’s mine either.

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Stacey and Consuela seem to be doing okay by the kitchen window, although I think Consuela was considerably brighter when I first got her. Probably we’re all looking a bit pale. I’m not in the habit of naming my houseplants, but that’s what happens when you spend a lot of time indoors trying to keep warm.

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The cockatoos that roost in the gum trees on the golf course usually migrate during winter, but this year they’ve stayed around. I wonder if that’s because it’s even drier inland or wherever they usually go. No-one’s saying the D word out loud, but it looks to me as if we’re in drought. The ground’s as dry as a Sao biscuit.

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The kangaroos are everywhere, even in the daytime, and even in people’s gardens. They’re looking for something to eat. I took this photo yesterday at a friend’s place, about three seconds before the dogs went bananas and launched themselves at the window. Luckily the glass was thick.

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I’ve had a bad cold, the kind where you absolutely have to go to bed for a few days and just stare out of the window. Actually, it was a blessing in disguise because lordy I needed the rest. This year has been like a runaway train and I’ve been hanging on for dear life. So I quite enjoyed giving in to being sick, not soldiering on. Emotions live in the body—of course they do—and Chinese medicine says that grief affects the lungs, so I wasn’t at all surprised to develop a delightful hacking cough as well.

Lying under blankets, watching the light change on the hills, there’s been a lot of time for contemplation. For a while now I’ve been thinking about big changes but trying to work out how to implement them gradually, rather than all at once. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, I want to keep the baby and change the bath water, so to speak. Mentally, I’ve been pushing at doors, seeing if they will open. In my head I’ve been trying on ideas: “Is this the right fit? What about this?”

I won’t tell you just yet what I’ve come up with, but I’m pretty excited about it. And a bit scared. It will take a while, and no doubt there’ll be some tweaking, but it feels right and that’s the most important thing.

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As well as thinking up some big ideas, I came up with some smaller, creative ones too. Then I made a jar of ideas. A while ago a friend lent me a DVD of a very sweet film called The Missing Postman. In it, one of the characters writes down all the odd jobs that need to be done around the house and puts them in a jar. When she has spare time and/or someone to help her, she picks a job out of the jar and gets it done.

Having a jar full of need-to-be-done jobs doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest, but a jar full of creative ideas certainly does. I wrote down ideas that use things I already have or that don’t involve spending much money. Here are some of them:

  • Go to the Botanic Gardens and take photos. Write a poem in the rainforest gully.
  • Crochet some flowers. Then crochet some more.
  • Make a cake from a different country.
  • Try dying fabric with avocado stones.
  • Read a French magazine online.
  • Visit the Japanese gardens at Cowra.
  • Draw some Art Deco patterns.
  • Make a tote bag.
  • Imagine the desert. Now write about it.
  • Learn some more acupressure points.
  • Make a golden painting.
  • Make a gluten-free sourdough starter.
  • Learn hiragana, katakana and the other one. (I told you I had a cold! Hard to remember things when your head’s full of mucus.)

Fun, right?! I’m close to finishing a big project right now and don’t have time for any of the above, but those creative ideas are waiting patiently in their jar for a day when I have time or am feeling a bit flat creatively. There are no rules with the jar of creative ideas. If you pull out an idea and don’t feel like acting on it, you can put it back and pull out more until you find the right one. Have a go!

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This week I had to take a trip along the highway and down-up-down the mountain roads to go and see to some family biz. I decided to drive home the long way, to get a glimpse of the sea and perhaps even to take my coat off—a brief migration to warmer climes. Before I left home, I’d been enjoying some tulips a friend bought me. I think I photographed their impossible goldenness from every angle. So when I stopped for a coffee in a little town on the way home (where I DID get to sit outside without a coat on) I was delighted to find a shop selling shoes with tulips AND goldenness on them. You won’t be surprised to hear that the shoes came home with me.

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On the drive home I passed signs that set off all sorts of reverie: Lemon Tree Creek (sounds idyllic and yellow and sunshiny); Monkey Mountain Road (is there a cache of monkeys living on a mountain in southern New South Wales?); Mount Agony Road (you’d think only a masochist would take that road, but actually it goes to the beach); Outdoors and Beyond (what exactly is beyond the outdoors, and what does that shop sell that could kit you out for it?); and Drive Thru Bacon and Eggs (delicious but potentially very messy and hard to scrape off the windscreen). And an echnida crossed the road. Don’t ask me why.

So here we are, back at home, where it’s still wintry. But indoors the fire’s on and there’s soup and home-made bread for dinner. We had a bit of rain, which the garden (and the roos and cockatoos) will be grateful for. And I’m grateful for slower days, time to heal, and time to dream up plans for tomorrow.

Until next time, keep warm and stay well.

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