I never usually know what ‘international day’ it is but happened to see that today it’s in honour of rural women, so thought I’d share with you this rare photo of my great-grandmother taken of her alone.
For much of her life she worked on their fruit farm at Applethorpe, also keeping it going for a time with her young children after her husband suddenly died aged 54. I believe the only holiday she ever really had was on the ship journey she took from Italy to Australia in 1934. She was a hard worker, determined, a loyal wife and raised three children. Sadly, she was also to die young at just 50, only a couple of years after her husband.
I love that in this picture it appears like a shaft of light is falling across her. I also love that this is the only one of her in bare feet. xxx
It’s been a tough past few days for those facing bushfires and an incredible effort by people banding together to fight fires and help people and animals. The resolve and grace of those who have lost so much is extraordinary.
Among the fires still burning are those at Stanthorpe and Applethorpe where, as many of you will know from my books, my Dad was born and three generations of my family previously lived at their Applethorpe farm.
According to QFES, firefighting is currently focused around the very roads bordering the farm. I can’t help but feel the area has had enough to deal in recent times with their water supply almost gone due to drought and now must face unprecedented fires. Really hoping for a reprieve all round very soon.
(Nanna Francesca beside the packing shed her father built and Nonno Anni pointing to the farmhouse – so him to get up on the fence!)
Update: While nearby paddocks got burnt out, relieved to say the house and sheds have survived thanks to the fantastic firefighting crews. That said, when an event like this occurs , it’s often a long time for things to return to ‘normal’, particularly for those who’ve lost much and especially an area already doing it tough and almost out of water. Really hoping for some decent rain soon.
For those in the Stanthorpe area or with a connection to it, the Border Post interviewed me recently about parts of the books set there. It was a pleasure to spend time in the area when researching the books, especially going back to where my family’s orchards stood, and always such a privilege to interview older, local people and learn their stories. xx
Click to read article…
Buon anno a tutti and warmest wishes!
The new year was generally start of harvest time at my family’s Applethorpe farm, with various fruit and vegetable picking over the first four months or so. Seeing photographs of that time, I’m taken by the generous camaraderie that comes across among the hard work and summer heat, especially knowing family and friends came from near and far to help my great-grandmother, Cesca and her youngest two left alone on their farm after her husband Mico’s sudden death at fifty-three.
At my desk again for the first time this year, while I await the next step on book three I am making a start to some research, a bit like ‘harvesting’ snippets and stories, that I hope (and I can’t believe I am writing this) will become book four!! Again, best wishes for the year and tante belle cose. xx
Came across this photograph of my family’s Applethorpe farm in the 1950s with the orchard in flower and realised when I was there doing research for Mezza and Joe’s, I happened to take a picture from almost the same spot 60 years later.
Even though Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar is completed, it is a pleasure to keep hearing more stories from my older relatives who always seem to have a little more to reveal about this era of their lives.
Talking to my great uncle Vincenzo recently I found out the varieties of produce they grew on the family’s Applethorpe farm included Granny Smith and Delicious apples, Santa Rosa and Wilson plums, Packham pears and green beans, also known as French or string beans. And the beans were the easiest to pick come harvest time.
(My great-grandmother – back left – was in her 50s when this was taken and though having recently lost her husband was working hard to keep the farm going.)