Worming my way forward - Topic of Cancer with Digby Hildreth

FOR an object of such stark, even irreducible utility, the worm farm proved unexpectedly complicated to put together.

All the demons of Swedish self-assembly descended: I had two Working Trays but the diagram showed only one.

Panic! There were also legs and clips, though details of where and how they fitted together were not revealed in the directions.

Finally the brick of coconut fibre that was supposed to need soaking for several hours exploded in the bucket: A watery mass needing much draining and filtering.

It's out there now, up on bricks under a mulberry tree, seemingly functional, although there are worryingly few worms in evidence. It's possible I may have killed them, either by drowning, or by failing to find a spot for them out of the sun.

I did, eventually, but not before carrying the whole unit around the garden, soaking my trousers in wormy water (it's best to turn off the tap).

I thought I had killed my car this week, too. It has been in the servo all week, with a huge oil leak - the result, I fear, of my overfilling it. Don't ask - it's typical of my troubled relationship with "things".

Being carless was a blessing: It kept me at home, forced me to tackle work I've been avoiding. I've planted a hedge, turned compost heaps, heavily mulched my former "lawn" - desiccated, weed-ridden patches - and am planting natives, inspired by people who have done it on a much larger scale.

I want to attract birds and butterflies, and provide a spot for the water dragons and blue-tongued lizards that live around here. Creatures that gladden the heart.

The AWOL car provided the opportunity, but the impetus to work comes from the lifting of the cancer threat. I feel "normal" again - strong, capable. The first week I did little but sleep, now I'm full of renewed energy.

But where to direct it? Three years dancing with cancer means I can't take much very seriously - the usual motivations are missing.

Four days home alone would once have driven me slightly mad, staring into the pit of my isolation, but it's allowed me to absorb the news and consider a future.

It is still only just dawning. I'm cancer-free. I've got my life back. Optimism, a lightness of being, are returning.

It can feel a little overwhelming, but the worms, the mulch, the chook poo are real, and bring peace.

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