It’s Bloodthorn’s birthday and he doesn’t want to go to school. What he really wants to do is go fishing. His mum sends a text to ask if Blackwood is up for some lake time and a text in response is enthusiastically sent back.
It’s a work day for me, so while the boys spend the morning first making yabby spears and then catching their bait in the creek, I sit at the kitchen table with my laptop and a pot of nettle tea. At lunchtime I fang up the street on my bike to go to Himalaya Bakery where I buy two cinnamon fruit scrolls for Bloodthorn’s birthday. I’m imagining candles and singing and sharing the scrolls between the four of us. I put them in my pannier and head home. On my way down the hill, a car overtakes me and then suddenly turns into me and I fly over the back of the vehicle and end up on the bitumen. People come running towards me but the driver doesn’t get out of the car.
‘You nearly fucking killed me!’ I yell, banging on the side of the car, where I landed on the road. ‘You nearly fucking killed me!’
The driver gets out and our two lives adjoin. We are women together, no longer just car and bike rider, flesh meeting metal, but women. One howls on the ground, one tries to be helpful. Are you OK? Are you hurt? Do you need an ambulance? What do you need? Can you point to where it hurts? Can I get you anything? Do you need some water? Would you like to take your helmet off? Can I help you stand up and move off the road?
I ask her if she can please rub my back while I breathe, to just give me a minute so I can assess the extent of my injuries. My clarity and assertiveness surprise me. I keep crying while I try to gauge the damage to my body. One of the people who’s gathered around lifts up my bike and stands with the others as witness while we two women work through what happened and what needs to happen.
She says she didn’t even see me – not down the hill and certainly not when she pulled in front of me. Her name is Jo and she has just had a session with her chiropractor. She says she was feeling light headed after her appointment and about to faint so she pulled over.
One of the gathered men passes me my bag that had flung out of my front basket and I take some squirts of Rescue Remedy from the front pocket. I offer some to Jo. Zero goes with me everywhere in my bike basket. But today he opted to stay on his mat by the fire. I cry harder as I think about my little companion and what could have happened to him.
I need to go home. Jo keeps telling me how sorry she is and asking if she can do anything, but I can’t think of anything. I just want to be home with Patrick. Jo and I hug goodbye. I thank the people who came running and I cry all the way home, the whole left side of my body aching, my bike squeaking and rattling, my cries feeling ineffectual as I can’t breathe deeply enough because it feels like my ribs are sticking into my lungs.
Patrick hears my cries when I come home and comes straight out. He runs me a bath with Epsom salts and I lay on my side feeling smashed about but so grateful for the quiet and stillness. I can’t stop thinking about my mother. Later, after Patrick has helped me out of the water, I phone her to let her know I am OK.
The day of the grateful living. Meg hobbles in from emptying the house wee bucket onto one of the citrus. “There might be a frost in the morning,” she says, holding herself gingerly as she steps through the front door. I go out and find the frost covers under the house and place them over the potatoes.
Potatoes can handle winter temperature soils, but not frost on their leaves. We plant them in August and cover them as they grow. I’m pleased they haven’t got sick with all the rain of spring. The tomatoes are already hothoused in their rows and doing well enough, considering the low temperatures. The bees have lost hundreds of workers. It happens every year. After a warm spring spell they convert their hive to a summer thermostat, then the following week the temperature plummets and we head back into winter. This is the time hives get a major set back or don’t make it at all because their winter honey stores are depleted and it’s too cold to go out and forage.
I dig up several comfrey roots in the garden. Wash them, discard the leaves in the poultry run, and pulverise the roots into a crude paste with a mortar and pestle. Meg is lying on the couch in considerable discomfort. I gently apply a large patch of paste to her left ribs and wrap a bandage around her torso to hold the poultice. I am so thankful this is the extent of the injury. A moving car, a driver not present, a bicycle rider. Aye yai yai.
Blackwood, off his own back, cooks frittata for dinner. In reading the situation he acts with resourcefulness and care. Using our duck and chicken eggs, gifted broccoli from one of the generous Forest & Free parents, Meg’s raw milk cheese and pepper berry from the garden. We eat the delicious creation our ten year old fashions upon the family hearth and we honour the food, its origin stories, and life herself with a thick flow of gratitude for all that sings and lives.