I’ve been thinking a lot about Shiva this week. You know, the Indian deity, god of destruction and rejuvenation. I’m not a religious person but I’ve always been intrigued by Shiva — as someone who was brought up within Christianity, the idea of a god of destruction seems perverse. But like so many of the Indian gods, Shiva represents contrasting, but complementary attributes: he is both destroyer and redeemer. With destruction comes rebirth; an acknowledgment of the cycle of birth and death (and rebirth, if you like) as well as the intrinsic psychic link between creation and destruction.
This is a roundabout way of saying that I’ve spent much of the last week destroying stuff, so as to create anew. It has been invigorating, occasionally painful (I have many more small injuries than I can count) and wearing (sorry for the lack of updates). But I have taken possession of this land and have started the long journey towards reshaping it towards our purpose.
The destruction phase (praise Shiva) is the enormous task of clearing up the area around our house — the bushfire season is approaching and the previous owners thoughtfully left several tonnes of highly combustible tree branches, eucalyptus leaves and assorted kindling piled up around our new home. Obviously that has to go before it becomes cause for real concern. So we lit a bonfire on Tuesday and it has been going ever since — we build it up during the day and keep feeding it until evening, when we let it die down. In the morning it’s still smoldering, so we start stacking more fuel on, and on it goes. I reckon if we keep that fire going for a month, by the beginning of October we’ll have cleared most of the combustible material within 20 metres of the house.
This kind of preparation is part of the reality of living in the Australian bush. I’m not a stranger to it (although it’s never before been my house that I was working to save). Every year we are warned and every year people die because they were not adequately prepared for the inferno when it came. I hope not to be one of those statistics.
As well as that, I’ve been clearing the area that will become our vegetable garden. The land has been cleared before (I think they even tried to grow some stuff there) but it’s been let go and I’ve been cutting down bushes, moving logs and trying to wrestle the land back into submission. All of this, I should point out, without mechanical assistance. Yesterday I disassembled the old dunny which was sitting right where I hope to be growing heirloom tomatoes sometime soon. Below the fold, a series of photos documenting that process. If you are in any way interested in dunny demolition, you will want to check these out.