Apple Island Wife: Slow Living in Tasmania written by Fiona Stocker, publisher Unbound, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.
To buy link: https://amzn.to/2E6EFQI
What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigor mortis?
In search of a good life and a slower pace, Fiona Stocker upped-sticks and moved to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and family homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt.
Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona jumped in at the deep end. Gradually Tasmania got under her skin as she learned to stack wood, round up the kids with a retired lady sheepdog, and stand on a scorpion without getting stung.
This charming tale captures the tussles and euphoria of living on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, raising your family where you want to and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Not just a memoir but an everywoman s story, and a paean to a new, slower age.
I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating Fiona Stocker’s travel memoir: Apple Island Wife. Fiona Stocker has kindly chosen a great excerpt from her book:
I developed a repertoire of mood-enhancing substances to help me raise a family thousands of miles away from my own. A small white tablet upon rising. Coffee at ten or eleven. Dark chocolate mid-afternoon, often taken in the private space of the pantry. I did more research and added omega three with boiled eggs and salmon for breakfast. With dinner, I had a glass of chilled white wine.
Most of all, I made sure the children and I stayed connected to the outside world, every day. Part of the daily routine for Daisy, Kit and myself was a walk along the road. It was a slow affair, sometimes bordering on torturous, with every blade of grass and wildflower having to be admired along the way. A toddler’s concept of a walk is a very different thing from an adult’s, and doesn’t necessarily involve walking at all. It could take half an hour to get out of the house, being dependent upon the stars of sleep and feeding aligning for Kit, and the pram, scooter, helmets and sunhats being located for the rest of us.
But once out in the fresh air and making our way incrementally along the verges, everything took on a different hue. There is much to be said for allowing the cobwebs of the mind to be swept away by a spring breeze, for the kiss of the sun upon the skin. Whether we were wrapped up warm against the winter cold, or in hats and shorts in the early morning or late afternoon summer sun, allowing our bodies and souls exposure to the elements was restorative and joyful. It was something I knew in theory to be important, but I had to make a conscious effort and remind myself to get out there.
In Brisbane, our walks with Daisy around the neighbourhood had been an inquisitive peek into other people’s gardens and lives. We once spent a day watching a backyard swimming pool being craned into place over the house behind ours.
In country Tasmania, a whole new repertoire of neighbourhood sights was rolled out before us, of nature, farming and the weather. We came to understand our neighbours’ endeavours better by the season. In early springtime there would be calves in Jacko and Barb’s sweeping paddocks, hovering by their mothers’ sides, their coats glossy and black. Later they would be replaced by lambs, woolly and frisky, bleating and scampering away from us. The children loved to spend time by the fence watching them all.
‘What is dat thing on the cow’s tummy, Mummy?’ asked Daisy one day, of a creature with a calf at foot.
‘That’s its udder,’ I replied. ‘That’s how it can feed its calf lovely milk and help it grow.’
‘So it will grow into a big girl, Mummy? Like me?’ Daisy was sorting a lot of things out in her mind at this point. And she liked milk.
‘Yes, and then into a lady with a calf of its own,’ I continued, not sure about this mixing of species.
‘I am growing into a lady too. I have just got flat boobies, dat is de problem.’ She patted her tiny chest through her fleecy jacket.
It was the first inkling I had that living in the country was going to be marvellous for teaching my children how life worked. It was playing out in the paddocks all around us. As I listened to their thoughts, and stood at the fence line, breathing in the summer air with its salty tang from the Bass Strait, or bracing against the winter winds from the central mountains, I had a strong sense of how this place would nourish our lives. Being out in the midst of it made me feel I was in a place closer to where we were intended to be.
Late one afternoon at the end of winter, a white-bellied sea eagle crossed our paths, clearing the treetops beside the road suddenly, circling slowly, its wings outstretched. Unbidden, the children stopped in their tracks. We all watched soundlessly as it landed on a fence post at the side of the road metres away from us. Suddenly it looked back towards us and we regarded each other, equally astonished. Its white head and chest were pristine, its wings buff brown, its eyes keen, although not that keen as it had failed to see us even from its vantage point in the sky. It was in its prime, a picture of strength and agility, every feather in place, the ultimate example of what the environment around us could support. For that brief moment it made all our hearts beat a little faster, and inspired us.
Over the years, I continued to walk daily along my piece of ribbon through the landscape, with the children, with Oliver, with a dog or alone. The sights and sounds, and all the other sensory experiences of the outdoors, never fail to galvanise me.
Thank you so much to the author for sharing this excerpt it sounds a fascinating read and such a comparison to urban life.
About the Author
Fiona Stocker is the author of travel memoir Apple Island Wife – Slow Living in Tasmania, published by Unbound in 2018.
Raised in England, Fiona Stocker now lives in Tasmania where she writes freelance for magazines, newspapers and online publications, and runs a niche farm, food and tourism business in partnership with her husband.
She occasionally works as a ghost writer and editor, and was a judge in the Tasmanian Short Story Competition in 2016. Her first book, A Place in the Stockyard, a history of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture featuring its members, was published in 2016.
Fiona Stocker lives in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania, with her husband, two children and around forty-five pigs.
Apple Island Wife is her first travel memoir.