I've spent my life writing. I used to love the challenge of translating the artist's ideas from brush to print when I wrote about paintings for Christie's art catalogues. Documenting the growth of a corn crop is a joy: I can track the cycles of growth and observe the miracle of a plant contained in a tiny seed, and the protective framework nature provides.
But now maybe it's time, just for a brief moment, to re-direct my focus. It's a much harder job opening up about why I started on this path. I'm no botanist, and I certainly don't have any skills in growing crops. I'm not great with numbers and any surplus cash would be directed towards a modest budget for travel and good food... and, if I'm honest, my penchant for nice shoes.
I've always wanted to be a Mum, and often think of author Zadie Smith's words: "time is how we spend our love". I knew that life on the farm would afford me the opportunity to spend time with my children: a consistent presence, even if not great at Lego, or patient in a messy kitchen!
What I hadn't envisaged was the challenge to my own identity. The traumatic loss of a beloved friend, the isolation of farm life, and the lack of professional engagement with the outside world is a toxic mix when combined with sleepless nights and energetic toddlers. Our neighbours are all incredibly competent farm women, the type to nurse sick stock skilfully through the night, and turn around to tend crops and grapevines the following day.
What I do have is the privilege of having lived several 'different' lives. I spent my young adulthood in the company of thoughtful and generous friends at Uni, and then travelled to London to study and work. I lived there for five years, enmeshed in a community of friends from all parts of the world. My work there was challenging but rewarding: I helped museums and art galleries navigate the loss of government funding, forcing a re-think of the way they serve their modern-day audience.
What I hope is that these disparate experiences have given me an appreciation of beauty in diversity: each of us has talents, habits and preferences that don't displace our shared humanity. I still miss the ease with which life in the city affords new experiences, but now I have the privilege of clean air and water, open space and independence.
My dream is that, in some small way, I can act as a bridge between these worlds. I thought I had chosen the simplest possible idea in starting a popcorn business: I tried to design something that would at least create a sustainable small business, against the odds.
Over the past couple of years this seems to have materialised. I first employed a dear friend to work with me in our farm kitchen, and later last year graduated to working with a wonderful group of people at Bedford Industries in Adelaide. The staff there all have disabilities that would make it difficult to work in an unsupported environment, and they brought a depth of enthusiasm and skill to their work that, alone, has made the whole project worthwhile for me. I was devastated when they could no longer fit my work into their schedule, and hope that eventually we can justify the resources needed to collaborate again.
So, for now, I am re-building from the ground up. It took a while, but I did manage to find the first of my little corn seeds emerging from the soil today. The rain and heat has been perfect to encourage germination.
Still I keep close to my heart the picture of the disciples in a boat, tossed by the waves in a contrary wind. "Come", said Jesus, calling Peter to step out of the boat, in faith, onto the water (Matthew 14: 22-33).