Just before Christmas, a gift arrived at our home. The postman delivered it in a large plastic sealed envelope with the words Pound Creek printed neatly in red on the flap. A pile of fragrant organic garlic freshly harvested and still covered with Gippsland soil tumbles on to my kitchen bench. The sight and smell of these glorious messy bulbs brings back a day spent at the place where they were grown…
In Pound Creek sits an unlikely mud brick house built by Chris O’Reilly and his wife Stavroula. We wend our way through rolling green fields scattered with fat, glossy cows and trundle up a dirt road to a Greek village. Well, not a whole village – just one beautiful Greek house set amongst lemon trees and olive groves and surrounded by vegetable gardens, bee hives, grape vines and chickens.
The house is painted in the classic Greek colours of white, pale ochre and the perfect pure singing blue of the Mediterranean. There is a lovely simplicity in the design of these airy rooms with their soft textured walls, wooden floors, open shelves and woollen rugs.
This house and the land around it are filled with a gentle, joyful energy. Vibrant mosaics accost us at every turn – Poseidon guarding the wood fired oven, Minerva’s owl in the garden, a dolphin leaping on the shower wall, bright patches of colour on walls and floors.
This is a place where fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown, collected, preserved, and cherished as medicine or food. This is a place that offers solace to the spirit and lifts the heart.
Today, garlic from Pound Creek sizzled on my stove and filled my home with the redolence of a Greek house transported magically from its island home to a land of eucalypts, wide skies, dusty tracks, lush paddocks and yabby filled dams. A gift from the earth to flavour our lives.
Many Thanks to Chris and Stavroula O’Reilly
© Anita Patel, 2018
Published by anitapatel
Anita Patel is a writer (and retired teacher) who has lived in Canberra since 1982. She is as Australian as a banana paddle pop and a pair of sandy thongs and she is also a part of the Asian diaspora. Her collections of poetry are: 'Petals Fall' published by Recent Work Press in 2022 (https://recentworkpress.com/product/petals-fall) and 'A Common Garment' published by Recent Work Press in 2019 (https://recentworkpress.com/product/a-common-garment/).
In 2019, she collaborated with acclaimed artist, Annie Franklin, to produce 'Heart Stitched' (a story - in paintings and poetry - of the quirky, unexpected and dazzling layers in the natural world). They received significant support from Nancy Sever (Nancy Sever Gallery). In 2022, their second book 'Grief and Beauty' (which arose from the 2019-20 bushfires) was published - once again with support from Nancy Sever.
She has had work published in the Canberra Times, in Conversations (Pandanus Press, ANU), in Block 9, Burley Journal, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Demos Journal, Mascara Literary Review, Not Very Quiet Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Backstory Journal, Other Terrain Journal, Pink Cover Zine, FemAsia Magazine, Plumwood Mountain Journal, Eucalypt: a tanka journal and Print Issue 42 of The Blue Nib Journal. Her work is also included in the following anthologies: The Australian Poetry Anthology (Vol. 8), 'This Gift This Poem' (Puncher and Wattman) and 'What We Carry' (Recent Work Press). Her children’s poems are included in an anthology 'Pardon My Garden' (Harper Collins). Her poem “Women’s Talk” won the ACT Writers Centre Poetry Prize in 2004 and her poetry was selected for and published in Australian Book Review’s States of Poetry ACT, 2018.
She has performed her work at the Canberra Multicultural Festival, Poetry on the Move Festival, Noted Festival, Floriade Fringe Festival, In Other Words Festival (at Lost in Books, Fairfield), the Queensland Poetry Festival, the National Folk Festival, at Smith’s Alternative, at Word in Hand (Glebe) and La Mama Poetica.
Her reviews, “Found in Translation”, on the performances of four Japanese women poets and their translators at Poetry on the Move Festival, 2017 and “No More Silent Waiting”, on the anthology Autonomy edited by Kathy D’Arcy (2018) have been published by Not Very Quiet Journal. She was the guest editor for Issue 2 of Not Very Quiet Journal. View all posts by anitapatel