All things in life are relative, relative to the projections, thoughts and ideas we place upon them. We label events as good, bad or in-between according to whatever we're holding in our head at the time. Take pumpkins, for instance. (And we did, although 'take' is a little accusatory; 'help the environment by preventing wastage' is more apt, but more on that later.)
A hike through the bush? Sure, said my sis, albeit a little hesitatingly. She was a bit flat. Me too, but I had two choices: lay in bed into the late morning worrying about life on a beautiful, sunny Sunday or drag my negative butt to something that will kick the blues into oblivion - and that same butt into positive action.
A hike it was we agreed and a couple of hours later we were in amongst the flora and fauna. Lisa wanted to see a kangaroo and did right away, albeit off in the distance but the posse of three or four roos filled her heart's desire. She also mentioned running out of tomatoes, with the last few late season ones I'd given her a while back leaving a yearning for more.
Our target destination was Greens Bush, a native forest, wildlife haven and the largest remnant of bushland on the Mornington Peninsula (yes, incriminating evidence). Surrounded by farmland (we were soon to discover), Greens Bush was proving to be elusive, a fence between it and us precluding entry. While we walked a dusty, soft-dirt track alongside it hoping for a gateway soon, we noticed little scratchy tracks under the fence (or Lisa, being the environmentalist, did), where kangaroos had slid beneath the fence into the forest. Tempted to follow their lead and enter via a 'kangaroo highway', as coined by Li, we resisted, her ancient wisdom and respect for the land precluding such a violation of the environment. When you're out with Li, you stick to the human highways.
A zucchini! Huh? Random. What was a zucchini doing in the Aussie bush? "If anyone's going to find a zucchini in the middle of nowhere, it's you, sis," she said. She knows me well. The thing is, the discovery of a zucchini (or courgette depending on where you live) in such an unlikely landscape is so much more than the discovery of a sweet, tasty vegetable. It's the instigator of curiosity, questions and imagination, the invitation to a potential mystery, the smell of adventure. Alerted to the possibility of imminent excitement, we crossed through the thick-ish bushland (to our left; Greens Bush was on the right) and were faced with a wide expanse of neatly cultivated, vibrant green farmland - and beyond that the expanse of big blue sea - a heart-kickstarting vision to make the lethargic drag out of bed well justified.
Edging the farm was a rough tangle of weeds, small bushes and the occasional piece of rubbish. With Italian noses that can sniff out a food source at 500 paces, we ventured further along the farm's outskirts until the telltale tendrils of retiring zucchini plants had our food radars radiating brighter than the over-hanging sun.
As you well know, pumpkins ain't no wildflowers. They're heavy! With a few returned to the car early on our walk, and poised on a gum tree en route in honour of nature's incongruity, sheer brilliance and versatility, we ventured on, with subsequent findings stashed in little cubby holes we covered with dead branches to obscure them from the view of any other potential hikers who might like to assume ownership of our already claimed booty. We made markers by poking big sticks into path's soft soil, thereby alerting us to their position on our return.
All in all, we collected 12 pumpkins of three different varieties, around 6 zucchinis and the same of tomatoes. While there were more pumpkins to be had, you can only carry so many pumpkins through the bush and my wish is that the remainder drop plenty of seeds and fertislise the soil richly for our return next year. We came home elated.
As it happens, I caught up with a very dear friend the next day. He's one of those special kind of people that you're very lucky to come across in a lifetime. One who warms your heart just by his presence. Wise. Warm. Real. I wish you have a friend like that. He told me that he's heading overseas to meet up with his probable wife and that he bought a one-way ticket. While truly happy that he's so truly happy, I was feeling the pain of this imminent separation strongly. I joked, in my sadness, 'You find a probable wife and I find pumpkins.'
Washing them later, as they still had that rich, giving soil stuck to their bottoms, I felt forlorn, deprived, and sorry for myself, the pumpkins little consolation for my loss. Somehow, as I washed my pumpkins with a mix of hose water and tears, yesterday's exhilarating pumpkins had turned to pig fodder - until I reminded myself, if life gives you pumpkins, make pumpkin soup.
I like pumpkins.