A few nights ago, after a magnificent day where the temperature teased us with a summery 32 degrees celcius, I spent most of the late afternoon and early evening in a comfy chair under our wisteria-covered pergola. The garden was alive with fragrance: the pungent sweetness of the wisteria in flower; the last scent of the spring freesias; the first rose blooms and finally, the intoxicating smell of petunias.
The sounds audible in the garden were as harmonious as the fragrances. To the south, I could hear a week old calf and it's mother mooing, to the north, a lone peacock - in between these creatures, the banjo frogs and crickets rythymically croaked and chirped - the echos of the frogs going across the valley. And finally, across the road, spring lambs bleeted happily under the moonlight. It is surroundings like this that make our international visitors even more in awe of Australia.
Living in a close vicinity to the Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park means we have native animals and birds much closer to us than most people. Kangaroos, birds, snakes, lizards and numerous other creatures searching for water mean we see them regularly. The honey-eaters, superb fairy wrens and many other birds speed through my garden at lightning speed. Just how they manoeuvre under the pergola is quite amazing. I find that by having many bird-baths in the garden quite close to the house, the birds seem to be quite happy to sit and bathe just a few metres away from us.
One of the funniest things I have seen in the past weeks are a couple of willie-wagtails "attacking" our dog whenever he gets within a ten metre distance from their nest. They are one of the most tenacious little birds around and despite their size I have seen them "stand up" to magpies and other much larger birds. They are also prone to "hitch-hiking" on sheeps' backs in the paddocks on the odd occasion! They sit like "Kings of the Castle", gaily swinging their tail from side to side as though they don't have a care in the world whilst getting their fill of airborne insects quite literally "on the sheep's back".
We are so fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas of Australia. Being able to sit outside in my garden and enjoy the sights and sounds are huge advantages of having a small family business that can be based in our house. Since becoming "commercial" we can no longer make our wines on our home property without vast expense to satisfy bureacracy (unfortunately the rules for making miniscule amounts of wine are the same as for someone making very large lots) but I would rather process our grapes offsite, under our watchful eyes, than risk losing the natural treasures we already have here. Sometimes you can't have it all but as our visitors see, why would you want to when you already have so much.