STOP THE WAR ON BLOKES!
Ok I never buy the Daily Telegraph on account of not wanting to bankroll Mr Toad (aka Murdoch) but this headline crafted by Ms Miranda Devine caught my eye.
Let me explain, Miranda. The war on blokes (if it exists) isn’t about reprisal, any more than the war on Iraq was about 9/11. On the contrary, many of us see it as a civilising mission – and others just want the oil. Just kidding, blokes.
No but really – down here in the country, for a puny chick like me, a bloke is as essential as a septic tank. We need our blokes to do stuff, like chop down trees and conduct burn-offs and fix generators. Not that I couldn’t do it myself – oh no – but I do love to watch a man stripped to the waist, tromping about the farm, sweating it up and developing his biceps (while I sit admiringly in the shade). Not for nothing is my nickname ‘Mrs Burns‘.
However – in the Great Leap Forward to Rural Life, I thoughtlessly jumped first, leaving my Hairy Bearded Bloke still trying to extricate himself from his paying job and various other obligations in the big smoke. So last weekend, to celebrate our third anniversary, I trekked 2 hours and he trekked four to Jindabyne, Gateway to the Snowies.
I drove the Snowy Mountains Way (which sounds more like a philosophy than a road), through the weird moonscape that is Australia’s alpine country. Sometimes you feel like you’re on the lip of a gigantic grey-green saucer, treeless and barren, littered with the skeletons of old earth – great boulders, heaped on one another, so deep-rooted in the land that even the clear-felling farmers had to leave them be. The wind sweeps through this country unopposed, and some enterprising firm has set up turbines on a long ridge – tall white pillars with their blades sweeping slowly around and around, a row of clocks without faces, telling no time.
At Jindabyne we stay in a grotty motel and scoff chocolate and red wine in bed, making ourselves queasy. We swim in the cold blue lake that covers a flooded town. There’s still some snow on the far peaks, but all the ski hire outfits are closed for summer on this scorcher of a day. We talk about being together again, in the place we’ve bought, but it’s pretty hard for him to let himself free-fall into unemployment, however idyllic. It will happen, eventually.
Meantime, I’m trying to develop an interest in hard rural slog (sisters doing it for themselves…who the hell came up with that rubbish!). Case in point, I go to look at our hazelnut trees (the folks round here call us ‘the nut farm’…which is more appropriate than they know). They’re supposed to produce nuts which obligingly fall on the ground when ripe: you pick them up and bingo, saleable produce!
But no – instead, the leaves are already yellowing and there are no nuts to be seen. I guess this is the hazelnuts’ way of saying ‘Stuff you, you never watered us, never fertilised us and never played us Mozart in spring, no nuts for you you lazy city slickers!’
Next year, hazelnuts, I will approach you with due reverence. I will research the delicate needs of hazelnuts on the interwebs. I will dedicate mountains of droppings to your root systems. I will irrigate you with the finest of dam water. I might even sing to you (plants are supposed to like that).
Or, at least, I’ll get my Man to do it (except for the singing). I’m prepared to observe a ceasefire with my bloke, Miranda – at least as long he makes himself useful. When he comes, that is (just kidding, Bearded One).
And just what IS wrong with those bloody hazelnuts?