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It was unusually cold here in Alice this July, the coldest on record. Having mentioned the low temps and heavy frost to a few people and received their surprised reactions, I thought I’d give you a little look into the cool side of life in Alice.

For several mornings the temps have been below 0 Celsius (32F). It had gotten gradually colder each morning until a few weeks ago when it hit -4C (24F). Undaunted, and unaware of immediate future events, I headed out to feed my little local group of Crested Pigeons. Don calls them my ‘adoring fans’ as they await their morning seed. Why wouldn’t they adore me, there’s not much food around on these freezing cold mornings! I love to watch them jostle and rearrange themselves to get their little share. Most mornings there are around 20 of them. After they have eaten they often ‘floof’ and perch on the steps or the brick wall and preen themselves or each other in a very satisfied way. They make soft cooing sounds and when they take off, their wings make a whistling sound due to the shape of the feathers. The little bit of orange/red around their eye and the nicely coiffed crests make them look like permanently startled little aliens. They make me smile.

I feel very sorry for them braving these cold temps this week. Can you see in the photo how cold everything looks? Or is it just me?

As I ventured onto my usual route around the golf course I began to notice more and more frost settling. The grass was crunchy and crisp under foot. I stopped to take a few photos but honestly, the tips of my fingers felt like they might get frostbite so I hustled on home within half an hour.

After breakfast and a shower I made a cup of tea to sip while checking emails. Once finished I walked the empty cup to the kitchen. And there out the window was water where it shouldn’t be…pouring down the pavement in the courtyard. My gaze scanned the area back toward the source of the flow and sure enough, a pipe had burst. Having no idea what to do first I contacted Don who had the car and came straight home from his desk at Uni. Meanwhile I called my usual plumber. They weren’t answering their mobile number or their office, which is usually a bad sign. Once someone called me back, he gave me the bad news…22 others were ahead of me in the queue.

They know me and I took their advice to sit tight because probably no other plumber would be able to get to me either, such was the case load across town. Even the golf course fairway in front of our house had a burst pipe. The plumber asked me to send him a photo of the damage situation, which I did immediately. Aren’t phones a convenient thing at times??

I quickly realised, though, if this had happened a week later, we would be in Adelaide for me to have the dental surgery, and it might have been days before anyone had seen the situation, let alone thought to turn off the water. Lucky us, I thought.

Don arrived home and turned off the water at the meter. So no water for me that day, which completely changed my plans for cooking and cleaning. Don left and I began to think. I hadn’t saved a jug of drinking water. I went next door to see our neighbour, and ask if I could get a jug of water, which would keep me from having to turn the water back on in case the worst happened and we had no service until the following day, which was what the plumber had said would probably happen. I hadn’t yet projected into the future the issue that would arise around using the toilets! A failure to plan is a plan for failure??

Once at the neighbour’s house I explained to him what happened and he looked at the photo and said ‘I can help you’. Oh, no, no, I don’t want to impose on you. He insisted it was no imposition and he would follow me home and have a look. He decided he could cut off the offending blow out and cap the pipe, which would mean I could turn the water back on until the plumber could get to us. Within about 40 minutes he had returned and made the repair. We turned the water on and not a drop leaked. What luck, not to mention a good neighbour. He’s helped me out of a few difficult situations, and I return the favours–like the time they were away and their little dog escaped its care givers several kilometres away, and was wandering around outside home in the heat. We spent a snuggly afternoon together in the air conditioning.

Meanwhile I busied myself in the kitchen, packing up a couple of my special brownies for he and his wife, and a jar of special ‘brew’ that I have started making with the orange peels from the same neighbour’s orange trees. They have about six trees and enough oranges to feed the entire street, but lucky me is allowed to harvest whenever I want to. And they have an open invitation to harvest our limes and lemons when they are in season. They are frugal and lovers of fresh food so I knew they would be interested in the orange cleaner I’d been making. Within a few weeks of each other I’d seen articles about making cleaner from orange peels and white vinegar on both Gardening Australia TV show, and on Instagram. I had started a jar of it in early June and already strained and was using it with great success. So I filled a small jar full for the neighbour to try as well.

About half an hour after our neighbour left, the plumber called and said he had a break in the action and he could come immediately if I was home. I was. He did. Within another 40 minutes the repair had been fully completed and I had water again! The plumber who showed up to do the work was not the one I’d spoken to on the phone, but he had been here a few times. For a long while when he would come to do work, he had a tale of deep sadness after his wife left him and was not letting him see his son. He had welled up with tears one day when he was here, and I had listened and tried to give him some hope. When he arrived that day, he had his son with him, since it was still mid-year school holidays here. He seemed very happy and glad to be doing the job for me. It made me wonder if he had stuck his hand up to come and help me…because perhaps I had helped him. We never know these things.

How lucky was I that day?

It seems to me there are a number of different kinds of luck. The serendipity of good luck are those times of near misses, the car almost hit you, the branch nearly fell on you, your newborn is a good sleeper etc. Then there is the not good looking luck, to which we are more challenged to respond. Then there is the luck we make for ourselves. We make a decision and there are outcomes. Sometimes we even don’t make decisions, and this has outcomes as well. If we live with intention and try to open our eyes to what is happening in the moment, we can choose to throw the peels in the bin, or to make orange and vinegar cleaner…and share it. We can be thoughtful and respectful to neighbours and workers, or not. If that is luck too, then count me in.

I’m not even kidding you a tiny bit, I finished this post and looked at my email inbox and the first thing that came up was an ad for an Apple original film called “Luck”. Do you think the muse is playing with me?