My Journal

My feet will wander in distant lands, my heart drink its fill at strange fountains, until I forget all desires but the longing for home.

Keep in touch.
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (1)
Share on Facebook

Long Week in Winton

A brief update, as, unfortunately, I am overdue for bed and we have an early start tomorrow.

I accidentally got 11 hours of sleep last night, so perhhaps I can spare a few tonight .... but I'd better get in the habit of getting enough every night, rather than be alternately late and early to rise.

I've been doing odd jobs, and getting used to Kathie, Janelle, the sheep, the dogs, the countryside, and the multitudes of people who Kathie knows or know Kathie.

Odd jobs include: Mowing lawns, painting bits of buildings, weeding, picking bits off of flowers, potting bits of flowers, watering things, socializing the puppies, feeding chickens, hanging and bringing in wash, making beds (Not as much for the flower-farm here as I expected, but also for the associated bed-and-breakfast guesthouse that Kathie runs). Kathie also works with other local growers to spread her flower supply around; we may help prune or de-bud or spray, and then sell the flowers for a part of the proceeds.

Kathie: is blonde, of an indeterminate age, bluff, and ENERGETIC. She serves on boards and committees, plays tennis avidly if intermittently due to the recent rains, and generally keeps moving from morning to night. Some things that I now associate with Kathie: Tractors, luncheons, lovely antique cars; sheep; flowers; a sporty NZ game show on TV; a white plastic bunny-suit and chemical sprayer topped with a broad-brimmed sun-hat; Jack Russel terriers; Burmese cats; international students; wi-fi and laptops; grilled rack of lamb; sudden pronouncements on "boys" and "girls;" bold decorator patterns and "matching"; favors traded with savvy ferocity; and an underlying competence like the warm electric blankets that turn icy New Zealand interiors into decadent comfort.

Janelle: is from Alberta, Canada, where the north-west winds are the coldest of winter. Is a trained florist at just past twenty, applying herself to all aslects of flower-growing and marketing with a fair degree of pleasure. (Although she is less enthusiastic about the lovely dried-flower arrangements she is currently occupied with, than their living successors growing in the fields.)
Is a gracious and friendly companion, who invites me along in her social plans, and is a pleasure to talk to.

The sheep: bleat incessantly. They sound exactly people saying "ba-a-a-a-a," and at the same time exactly like the little toy cans that you tip over to make a vaguely indecent approximation of generic barnyard sound. And yet I had no idea that there were as many distinct sheep voices; I am beginning to hear them as nasal, or richly-timbred, or articulate, or matronly, or childish.
I wonder if I will begin to imagine I can tell what they are saying. They lie in the shade in the hot afternoons, and otherwise tend to stand evenly scattered throughout the green, green paddocks surrounding the farm on as many sides as I am aware of.

The dogs: two terriers, down from four when I arrived, because two absolutely charming little puppies have found loving homes in the intervening week. Mother Molly is Kathihe's Jack Russel, who does not seem at all distraught to be deprived of sharp little teeth at her teats, competition for affection, and the privilege of sleeping in the doghouse with her untrained pups rather than in a warm bed with the other house-trained pets. The other terrier comes and goes with Tammy, Kathie's woman-of-all-work. THe largest dog is Ziggy, a retriever too old to retrieve who is forever banned from the house, but barks mournfully at the door anyway, probably because he occasionally gets a bone this way even after he's had supper.

The countryside: flat, rolling pasture; not a native patch to be seen for miles around, except perhaps in the distant mountains. They're Alp-y or Rockies-esque; snowy heights with lots of crinkly ridges looking as if they're just waiting for a few more meters of uplift, or another ice-age, to join the upper ranks.
The flat, by contrast, is extremely flat; glacially ground, with only a few odd rises here and there. It is some of the most exclusively cultivated land I have seen: not that it is densely cultivated, on the contrary sheep pastures give the impression of lots of space. But everything I see -- the sheep, the grass, the trees, the crops, the hedges, the gardens -- has been planted or allowed to grow by human hands. The trees are not native, but Australian gum/eucalyptus, American cedars and Monterey cypress, European poplars and willows and pines and Scotch broom and gorse. Very tidy, green, and blooming under the broad blue sky, but a strange sense of displacement realizing how dependent this landscape is on human creators and tenders.

The people: Good-natured, friendly; they know Kathie because she is a Character, and because she is a Local Figure of some prominence, and because this is a Small Town. It is an unusual day when one or two people do not stop by to ask after Kathie, on some form of business or pleasure or both. Hardly lonely.

About half of those I have met are old-time New Zealand farmers, who have already raised their families here and are keeping up with the farm now that their children are gone. The other half are broadly international, and include a larger number of young people. Nations represented so far include: Sweden, Argentina, England, US & Canada, ... others, too, I'm sure I'm forgetting.

We met the largest number of locals at an old-time dance the other night, where Janelle and I went with two Swedish boys who are on the same exchange program as she is, and we danced many many formal dances that none of us knew, with many many people who knew them all. It took me more than half the night to begin dancing more than watching; and with only a couple of partners was I able to dance more than half the dance (as opposed to spending most of the dance trying to learn the dance). But all in good fun; and they seved "supper," tea and cakes and little sandwiches, since we had all eaten "dinner" mid-day as befits a farming community.

And speaking of farming traditions, it's an early morning tomorrow, so I'd best leave this and get to bed.

Read/Post Comments (1)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.