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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Farm, Part 2

I was going to continue yesterday's story where I left off, and talk about how we fought our battles in the Wild Woods - but suddenly realized that I've forgotten how we did it. I know we did go off and and make forts, but I can't remember just how we defended them, or the politics and rules of the battles. What I do remember, is the times we went to the Rotten Willows...

Along down the road from the friends' house were the sheds, where the cows and sheep were kept sometimes, all full of stones and mud and dung. The garage was there, too, with old machinery bits and knives and tools hanging up behind the creaky sliding doors. Beyond the sheds was the guest house, where people stayed sometimes when they wanted to come and see the country, and a real farm. It was just a cottage, really, surrounded by hedges and pine trees and sheep and eucalyptuses, and it was little and snug-looking, with a chimney that smoked. Inside it had an old-fashioned kitchen, and a fireplace, a tiny bookshelf of books with bibles and hymn books and Jane Austen, and in all the rooms were springy mattresses. And that was all there was in that house.

Further down the road was a big old hay shed, which had a tractor sitting in it gathering cobwebs. After the children had gone down the windy, stony road they came at last to the Rotten Willows. Between the wires of the fence, the children climbed into the thick grass-and-buttercups paddock which led on to the willows. Beyond the little bit of grass and gorse and buttercups was the wood. It was called the 'Rotten Willows' because there were so many willows in that paddock, and many of them had fallen over, and funguses were spreading on them. Between the big, old willows, some erect and some horizontal, was tall green grass. In some parts of the wood, the trees had fallen over and there were huge craters of earth that had been made, because the trees had uprooted a lot of that soil when they fell over.

Those trees were pretty in the evening sunlight. Falling sunshine sifted through the thin, green leaves of the willows, making them glow and touching the branches' outlines with tracings of gold.
Finally, after trudging through the mud (because the paddock was marshy), slipping on the damp grass, and dodging fallen trees, the children arrived at the hut. It was a beautiful hut, and very different from the forts they had made in the Wild Woods. In those woods, the children had cut down branches and found sticks and gathered armfuls of pine needles to make their forts strong. This hut was made from a tree that had partly fallen over, but left a big part of the trunk in the ground. The most exciting part was that the trunk was completely hollow, and three people could sit inside if they squeezed. The only real problem, the eldest of the eight children decided, was that there was no roof to this hut, and the elements could do their worst. So the older children of the eight agreed, after serious discussion, that they would each go off to fallen trees and find as many strong, large-pieced bits of bark as they could find, and use it to make a roof for the hut.

That was precisely what they did. The younger children discovered that the long green grass would be a nice thing to sit on if it was picked and spread inside the hut, so they went to the greenest, tallest patches of grass that they could find, and started to pick. It didn't take long for the big children to make the roof - they climbed up the tree and made a network of sticks which they wove the pieces of bark into. Those big children were clever, and brave.
As they worked, they directed the younger ones to keep bringing grass, and some of them would spread it out in the hut so that it covered the lumps and bumps and became soft and comfortable to sit on.
When they had all finished they looked at what they had done. It was a beautiful hut, just perfect for sitting in on a hot day.
Then they went home: they crossed the paddock, crept under the fence, walked down the windy road past the tractor and sheds and garage, and climbed up the hill to have dinner in the big old farmhouse.


Blogger Andy Moore said...

great memories Lyd! was it called the Rotten Willows? I thought it was something else.

5:45 am  
Blogger Lydz said...

yeah, good times aye! Hmm.. I think it was?

12:39 am  

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