Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mysterious Permaculture Graveyard, bridal tulle, and strange cake at St. Stephens

The craft of storytelling is an essential part of low-tech Permaculture future, wouldn't you say?

Both my parents were good storytellers, a useful skill for keeping seven little children hushed, when needed.

Even I have one or two tales I can tell on long car trips. 
But like gardening, you can't do it without practice, and its difficult to get from beginning to end smoothly. Good storytelling needs to be part of your culture, part of your surroundings. 

The true tale of Eliza Donnithorne

Here is a story I was told this morning, while chatting with a parishoner over tea and biscuts. The Man who told me the story, after much prompting, is the gravekeeper of St Stephen's Church, Newtown.  Well, he has a more modern title, but that will do for now. 
This is what he said:
The story starts with  Miss Eliza Donnythorne, daughter of an eminent man in the colonies. After an encounter with a young shipping clerk, and another encounter, maybe more, Eliza fell in love.

'Daddy, Im going to marry him" she said.
"No darling, he's not of our class"
Daddy, I um... I HAVE TO marry him.
'Oh.  I see'.
So the wedding was arranged, the table spread with a lavish wedding luncheon, the church brimming with Sydneys leading families.

The bride waited. She waited
The groom never, ever appeared.

The poor girl went mad with grief. She  didn't let anyone touch the plates of food, she kept her wedding gown close to her. When the baby came, it was given to the servant to be raised.
One of Eliza's very few visiors was a lady named Caroline Chishom, who kept a friendly correspondance with a London writer,  Charles Dickens.

Yet another Australian who makes it bigger overseas than at home.

The story may be a little wanting here and there.  This history site tells other versions of what really happened to Eliza, the model of Great Expectaions' Miss Havisham. 

Today's Great Expectations story at the church tea came complete with:

Strange Cake. 
Made by the children at Sunday School, the candy represents the heavy burdens of law the Pharisees heap upon the people.

Very pretty little girls.
They were very very quiet, during the sermon, while the cakes were being made.
Less so after they were eaten.

Strange creativity by kindly, working-class men

Here is the headstone for John Leys, a foreman-Engineer from the docks.
He must have been kind, like Great Expectations blacksmith Joe, as his men loved him enough to piece together this for him. I think from an old propellor.

Just because the men of 1883 didn't smile in their photos doesn't mean they were any less playful than we are today.

Its a truly beautiful Church, built with large donations from Eliza, who, like Miss Havisham, was heiress to a great fortune.

Community Garden

The sextons cottage, beside the church, is surrounded by a community garden.  There is a bunny called Kevin, there are chickens, and quite a few edibles.

Corn Wall

The corn looks happy.

Broccoli turned to lace by white cabbage butterflies

The brassica's less so.
That's why I'm not to hot about community gardens. They don't get the love, the observation and attention that an owned-garden can have.  Things get quite...cobwebby.

The Morton Bay Fig was planted in the time of Eliza. It now looks over girls who have quite different options for their lives. 


Including me. I'm almost ready to launch myself into the world, start some real work, start a real family.
Preparations nearly done. 
My, I'm slow though.  
Perilously close to being another Miss Havisham.

Uses for Cobwebby Bridal Tulle

Yesterday I bought some of the most useful stuff for a permaculture life: Bridal Tulle. 

Today I used it to keep the cabbage moths off My sister-in-law Laura's edible gardens. Prettily.

I also used it as the ballerina-style cover for sprouting the fenugreek seeds that I found lurking in the spice cupboard.

As I was buying the tulle, I explained to the shoplady.
"It looks like the most ornamental, airy and insubstantial fabric in the shop. In fact, the opposite is true".

Just like me.

If I may say so myself.

1 comment:

Terry said...

Cecilia you are a great story teller what are blogs if not great stories. I am sure your future will be filled with love and children. Just let it happen.