Peter Nelson’s travels – Australian farmhouse

by Peter Nelson 

Nowra, New South Wales.  Well, it could be worse.

The old farmhouse
The old farmhouse

Living in a rambling, very dilapidated old farmhouse in the middle of almost nowhere.  An existence momentarily meatless.  Ah but we got a peach tree, an orange tree, a lemon tree, and a passionfruit vine.  We got a rooster who crows at the MOON, waking me up every bloody night, and a young pup brown named Snuffit.  There’s talk of getting a cow to convert our shaggy lawn into fresh milk.  In this season of fruitfulness, we literally cannot step out the door without treading on some new-fallen swollen globe of fruit, the very ground itself all yellow and orange and pulpy and pregnant and fragrant.

The farm family, dressed for dinner!
The farm family, dressed for dinner!

Strange, angular days.  Went up on this high lookout, 2000 feet above us and you can see for days.  Zippo there I was, back where I’ve always been.  Since you know when.  I’d never before realized how beautiful places belong to her.  So the trick now is to try to avoid all beauty.  Not so easy in a place where every evening the sun rolls down this valley filled with golden dust.  And the sunsets last for-bloody-ever, the colors deepening hour after hour.

You can brood in the sitting room listening to the old clock tick away, watching the sunlight fade on the yellowing walls.

Well there are compensations.  In the horizon turning rose beneath the fig tree.  And its leaves, the green leaves in the evening wind.

Or you can brood in the kitchen listening to the old clock tick away, watching the sunlight fade on the browning walls.  Now here’s Cheryl with a load of groceries and some thick black thread with which to sew my eyelids shut.  Unpacking the groceries, putting the fat tins on the front edge of the shelf, giving the illusion that the cupboard is full during these leanish times.

A couple of the guys went for a weekend canoe trip on a nearby river, and for some reason came back with this 8-foot tree constrictor.  Just what the old place needed — a giant killer snake for a pet!

Mungo liked to drape himself over the door frame and then drop down on the unsuspecting visitor.
Mungo liked to drape himself over the door frame and then drop down on the unsuspecting visitor.
He’d climb up your arm and wrap around your neck. That’s how he made his living, by strangling his prey.
 If he had a good base for his tail, he could climb right up the wall.
If he had a good base for his tail, he could climb right up the wall.

Does the sun shine brighter on the other side of town.  I hope not.  It’s bright enough here to suit me and then some.  I feel like an overdone waffle.  Bubbles forming in what’s left of my brain.  Would you like some of this cold spaghetti.  No.  I didn’t think you would.  What is there about spaghetti that it goes cold so quickly.  Must be a moral in there somewhere.

Lest one forget this is a farm house, all the pastures around are festooned with images of bovine bliss.  Long green grass and sagging udders swelling full.  Cows are so neat.  They know what’s happening, man, you can see it in their eyes.

Sydney’s cool too.  Although rather far away.  Did you ever make it to the Old Push.  A jazz club full of light and smoke and reddish noise smashing people together people spilling drinks rubbing and kissing and the band standing there like Serious Professionals.  The sax man maybe fifty with grey hair parted in the middle.  Dressed like a Woolworth’s store window dummy and sweet Maybeline can he play.  And me who never liked jazz.  The band spilling sounds a hundred shades of red out onto the floor out into the street where people are dancing in the receding red glow and out into the grass an old man in a shiny black suit moves under the lamp posts clutching a ragged grey sack shiny with holes pouring a red tide of warmth onto the green coal in the alley beside.  Then the ferry at night, harbor lights on the shimmering water like snow falling on black velvet, water like brush strokes on black silk.