Our driveway is more scenic than practical and hardy. It winds gradually down through native bush, half a kilometre of hard packed earth covered with leaf mould and wind fall fern fronds and sticks. Hopeful tree seedlings grow down the centre and at times we are stopped by fallen trees or have to wait for wildlife to move on.
The driveway was bulldozed in less than a week before we moved to the farm and in the past twenty two years has had no real maintenance. The top layer is made up of fine pumice which, in every heavy rain, floats down and deposits itself under my clothesline. The wheel tracks have got lower and the sides, like really deep provincial town gutters, much higher. We have never been able to afford gravel but the Man of the House has dug channels across at intervals to drain the water off. It has worked quite well and we haven’t had to tow anyone out for years.
It’s those drains that I want to talk about now. When you live in the country, you have to take your own precautions to keep yourself and your home safe when you know bad weather is coming. So, with the tattered remains of Cyclone Debbie bearing down on Enzed after drowning much of Australia’s east coast, The Man of the House asked me to clear the drains – please. Not being gainfully employed at the moment means I get to do these things now.
The dog wasn’t keen to come for a walk with me. She didn’t even get off her bed so I set off alone, with the shovel to scrape the loose top off and open up all the channels.
I don’t think I had ever counted the drains before but there are a lot. I started counting on the way up as I cleared them but lost count before I reached ten. It’s hard to stay focussed on numbers when you’re doing such physical work. At about half way, the dog turned up to see what I was doing. Unimpressed, she turned her nose to the ground and shot off after a scent.
After forty minutes I got to the top, bathed in sweat and gasping for a cup of tea. Quite proud of my efforts, I whistled up the dog and headed home, deciding to try counting the drains on the way down, a much more sensible idea. I only had to concentrate on one thing. I lost count again at about twenty five when a robin dropped onto a branch just ahead of me and gave me a good telling off for disturbing the peace. A delicate little bird, Toutouwai the robin, can fill the bush with it’s joyful warble for a good hour at a time and I was captivated. I leaned on the shovel and enjoyed the show and when it was over, I gave up on counting and went home for a cuppa. I still don’t know how many drains there are but it feels like a lot and they’re all clear, ready for Debbie.