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trimmed and shoot-thinned

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I leave New York City and fly through the day and then night and into the following day and am met in Perth and driven south into the late afternoon. Through open car windows waft the smells of my country, bringing welcome and relief. Reaching home, I hug dear ones, throw off shoes, and step out into the land. The ocean roars a greeting, frogs chirumph a lullaby, and the sun sets into the silver. Soon I am setting into my own silver, drifting off somewhere in search of my astral body, as rain thrums the sheltering tin roof.

Dawn lifts up with dew fogging paddocks. New green mixes with autumn yellow suffused with purple and lavender and a rose blueberry light all around. Clouds pillowing in great full-scale articulation, call of honeyeater, a crow swooping darkly through misty distance, guinea fowl chuckling loudly. Acacias and bottlebrushes in full bloom, leaves pendent with wet, wave salaam. I look out towards the vines. 

I cross the new plantings noting proliferation of well-watered weeds swiftly overtaking. Fresh leaves shooting from the base of rainwet canes mark a too early spring. Startled roos scatter, thumping earth, vibrations echoing up my legs. Through spirals of swirling damp, I get glimpses of the vines. I reach the Malbec, whose yellowed and brown leaves still cling to canes. A smaller cloak of tan and taupe leaves grace the Cabernet. But the Chardonnay is mostly bare, though scatterings of new green leaves have already appeared at the end of shoots. And winter isn’t yet here.   

A lone crow taunts me from high in a marri. Is he scolding me cause the compost heap needs serious attention? Is he chuckling about this incalculable number of weeds? The inventory of work in front of me has simply got me reeling. A vastness of new posts and wires and infrastructure will be woven soon throughout the new plantings. It's a huge undertaking. New York is still too fresh, and getting a handle on this is way too much, way too soon. I turn my rear on the crow and limp back to unpack, to wash clothes, to settle into a different order, to get perspective, to return.

The magpies are singing an ethereal song, breakfast spatters on the stove, the sun sparkles through drops of water, reflecting golden light everywhere. The ocean pipes in with a gurgle and a roar, and is answered weakly by the rooster. I’m missing cockatoo song, but it’s early in the day. And suddenly I notice I am home.

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Seeing Ain't About Believing

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Seeing Ain't About Believing

A brilliant friend brought me relief in the vines in the form of the welcome gift of his iPod, replete with an outstanding collection of songs. He was responding to my text that I had resorted to listening to ____, as I had “run out of” music. I hadn’t of course -- my iPod boasts about 12,000 songs, but after months of shifting through my sounds, it felt like I had heard it all. So we plugged his into the truck and floated cool sounds out into the hot green, chatting happily while I trimmed and shoot-thinned the lusty vines.

I explained what I was doing, at some point averring that I think myself unskilled. His biting protest about my “false modesty” considering our cult success, stopped me in my tracks. I hold it that I’ve got heaps to learn, and that I don’t always get it right. I was saying that I was still discovering how to “see” the vines. Despite book study, a fair bit of direct hands on experience, I’m still learning. I’m often surprised by things and frequently miss critical details. I’m continuing to work to “get my eyes in” –-to be able to see all the components and trajectory of each vine, to read what is expressing and to act appropriately in delivering what is needed in the proper time frame.

Where does this knowledge come from? Some certainly comes from science and book learning, some from direct experience, and some comes from the expressed experiences of others. But a large bit comes from an awareness I’m striving to cultivate, and at heart, this is one of the “holy grails” driving the vineyard and the entire Cloudburst process.  

I’m talking about being able to receive, interpret and act on crucial tidings that come from “somewhere else” -- those dead-on otherworldly insights that represent a critical intuitive leap… This type of information arrives through meaningful coincidences or riddles or talismans and through seemingly unimportant occurrences that turn out to be portents. Occasionally I catch them.

Last year I was far from the vines and found a feather from a Darlmoorluk (the indigenous nickname for the Western Ringneck Parrot, Barnardius zonarius). I picked it up and had an instantaneous flash of absolute certainty that there was a parrot in the vines. I raced there and sure enough, a Darlmoorluk had punched a hole through the net and was cheerfully lopping off bunches of grapes. I chased him out, patched up the gaping hole and was struck by how opportune the sign of the feather had been.

Such signs are everywhere. Can I tune myself to read them? Can I really listen? Can I cultivate seeing? Can I transmute that into the grapes, into the wine, into my life?

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