Our street is one the oldest in this suburb up in hills to the east of Perth. Once the original start of the old road that sloped off down to the big smoke it’s now a no through road with a big pile of boulders at the closed off end just widely enough spaced for a growling Harley to squeeze through.
Old roads mean old houses and big old trees in a time when wooden framed asbestos clad buildings stood on big blocks and seemingly no matter how many people lived there the design was simple. Our house is…as the Madness song suggested… in the middle of our street and probably was one of the original houses. The classic design is there, three rooms off a simple corridor and a kitchen at the end, wooden floors and high ceilings with air vents, winter fireplaces and plaster ceiling roses imitating the fans that tick in summer. Bob the builder has however had his evil way and there are added less attractive rooms and entering through the front door is akin to walking into the tardis though thankfully so far no daleks have emerged from a dusty corner.
Old streets and old houses mean old gardens and trees and our street is lined with giant eucalypts, jacarandas that carpet the road each spring with lilac petals that stick like tissue paper, lilli pillis bunched with purple jam fruit and huge conifers that dwarf the old houses dropping pinecones like grenades onto roofs and play host each year to mobs of black cockatoos that add to the pine cone assault.
Old gardens have gnarled pear, mulberry, plum and apple trees that hunch like old men beside old sheds whispering to each other while fairy floss lichen grows on their joints and flowers set into tiny fruit. Oranges and mandarin scent the air with blossom and an elderly lemon and loquat shade the chook yard where an old water tower lurches on a jarrah frame and a cone topped well drops metres into the coffee rock ground. Next door’s grape vine may well have been a resident of our old garden before land was divided up for more housing and neighbour Tim has the greenest fingers. The vine hangs with grapes each year, his veggie plot thrives green and boisterous and his bees pollinate the trees occasionally hanging like giant gourds from the corner of our shed.
But exotic newcomers have moved into the street and persimmons, now draped in netting that twitches in the breeze like nosy neighbours curtains, clump at the end of bowed branches. Globes of noon sun yellow ripening with each sunny day and nothing like the winter sun pale of the supermarket fruit, hard and grey leaved. The parrots have been beating Zai to her favourite fruit, hence the netting, and soon she will harvest a basket of soft, plump, green leaved sweet bitefuls of liquid sunshine.
Next door John and his blue tractor have dug out the winter creek that has just started to flow bringing in the frog song that will rumble through nights to come. John has his exotic newcomers in a little orchard fronting our street. A black sapote fruits every year and tastes like chocolate pudding and his guava, mango and newly planted dragon fruit show promise for a fruit salad that would do a Carmen Miranda hat proud.