She never did any housework. She would garden all the morning & read in the afternoon. S.Cane
Place is important to me. There are places I walk in my dreams yet. Trafalgar Vale is one of those places. I can walk it room by room ~seeing, feeling, smelling, the house solid around me as it was when I was a child.
Odd I should remember it so well. It was not my house & it was old; a hundred years old even then. It smelt of the dust that drifted down from the ceiling in dank clouds, of overblown roses, red soil & Mama's eternal turps & thinners. The shower stood on a cement slab under the water tank & draped over its rafters lived the carpet snake that fed on the fat green tree frogs. It was geriatric having the usual problems with its plumbing & embarrassing leaks. Like its owner it was quirky. Perhaps that's why I loved it so much. The main bedroom wall sported a willow tree bearing peach blossoms. The bath got buried in the front garden. The back door was painted in black & pink & purple stripes & at one time the fridge was also painted. A garish commode sat behind a curtain on the back verandah & the rail was home to a medley of ancient chamber pots. The loo was a *thunderbox* way down at the back fence amidst black clouds of mozzies & midgies.
Trafalgar Vale, far too snooty a name for a portly old lady tied at the waist with string, was my Aunt's house. I loved it as my aunt did for its faults, being as disinclined as she was to practical considerations over ambiance & that elusive sense of being at home. Besides there was the garden.
My Aunt was a gardener before she was anything else, a love she shared with my own mother & which created a friendship between two very dissimilar women because my Aunt was no housekeeper & her methods invariably made my mother cringe. Her garden was a tangled riot of exuberant plants, gracious old trees, secretive nooks & hidden corners. I remember the front verandah for its swathes of wisteria & golden alamander. It was a house & garden that had roots, good sturdy roots running from generation to generation, where the old stories got told & retold giving me a sense of belonging that I did not find in my modern, practical, organized home were I could not find reflections of myself.
A sense of belonging is important to a child. A sense of springing from a real past, of being a cog in something larger than oneself, of moving into the future, spring from that sense of belonging & so I was careful to tell the stories as I remember them, for the people to whom the stories happened have gone now. Some of them I only know through their stories. Others I remember but as I tread the wide boards of Trafalgar Vale in my dreams they crowd about me, all the dead. As a king once said, 'I will go to them, they cannot return to me.' But I do not think they care to be forgotten.