Neighbours

We spent this evening in the company of good neighbours. We invited Phil and Mary for pre-dinner drinks and waved them off close to midnight. They brought home-made chicken and vegetable pies and a jar of honey from their apiary. We drank their wine, then sat around our kitchen bench eating nachos from mismatched bowls.

Phil

Phil reads Eckhart Tolle and science fiction and loves all things Viking. He meditates. He’s a scotch connoisseur and edits the Ipswich and West Moreton Beekeepers Association newsletter. He swears. He gossips. He’s a story teller. A raconteur.

Seven weeks ago Phil broke his leg when a ride-on mower jammed him under a fence. (There may have been some operator error involved but I prefer to blame the equipment.) He’s had a rough time, with less-than-stellar hospital care followed by weeks of misery in a wheelchair. His injured leg is in a half cast now and he can walk for short periods with crutches, but he can’t drive a car or ride his beloved motorbike. He can’t tend to his bees or cut up the fallen branch blighting his top paddock. For all that, he was in great form tonight and I’m still laughing at his stories long after he disappeared down my drive.

Mary

Mary is a scientist who leads multiple lives, running a training consultancy in between her agricultural and health industry board commitments. She’s an artist. She knits and does needlework. She has chooks and a garden, growing potatoes, beans, peas, corn, raspberries, lemons, limes, oranges, nectarines and grapes. She grows roses. And since Phil’s been laid up she’s done a whole lot more besides. She loves birds and wild life and tonight shared her local knowledge with The Husband, himself a fledgling twitcher. (Pun not intended but I’m happy to run with it.) Tonight when she left, Mary hugged me like an old, old friend, rather than just neighbours who see each other once or twice a year.

I liked that hug, and I like Mary and Phil.

Post script

The nesting bird disturbed by The Husband during the great paddock clean-up has returned to her nest. We are all very relieved and confident the local Australian Owlet population will increase by three in the near future.

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Angela Bensted is Brisbane-based freelance writer who likes to listen first and struggle with syntax later. She pitches stories to magazines and helps businesses produce compelling copy for print and online.

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