The photo above is of the very old 1730’s Saxon farm house with sheep-shed in Eursinge where we lived in between 1974- 1976.
With a lot of water having passed under the bridge, we found ourselves on a farm in Holland. My fascination with living on a farm is somewhat of a puzzle. I grew up on the opposite of rural life. Firmly entrenched in cities since birth. Rotterdam for my first ten years or so.The Hague for almost six years after that. Between my sixteenth and twenty fourth I lived mainly in between, the twilight zone called the suburb. Suburbs are something that I was never aware of till after our arrival in Australia and then it was too late. The suburb is neither rural nor city. It is an attempt to combine both.
Houses are strung together by electricity wires suspended from large wooden poles high up with long strips of bitumen in between lower down. Kerbs of grass and concrete driveways. People live very spread out and when I was living there they rarely ventured outside except for going shopping or work. This was when a car would be driven over the driveway onto the bitumen and disappear at the end of the street, perhaps going around a corner. Sometimes a careful listener could, during the dead of night, hear screams of anxiety or was it mere bottled up domesticity seeking an outlet?
Most people loved suburbs and that’s why most live there. What sort of other choices were there in the late fifties besides suburban living? Often the enthusiastic defender of suburbs will say that kids can play in the backyard and dad can grow fruit and vegetables, have barbecues or clean the gutters from leaves avoiding damaging bush-fires. The wife has lovely sunshine in which to dry clothes and room to also grow flowers and shrubs. Yes, that is all true. I might well be mistaken. My trauma of suburbs was more due to my age when entering this zone of separated houses by high fencing and curved driveways.
At sixteen the jumping around in the backyard wasn’t at all something I would want to do nor kneel in grass pulling out weeds or study the habits of worms eating dad’s tomatoes. I wanted and needed signs of life. Perhaps the case of some seeing a glass half empty and others seeing in half full could be made. I have never really been gripped by things half full/empty.
I have been found guilty of slighting Australia, but so be it. What can be done for atonement?
Do I go out and in deep sun-drenched suburbia, embrace a sheet of zinc alum and ask for forgiveness. I am so sorry colour-bond, I know you mean well and you never rust either. How could I have been so cruel? You give generously to all within your sun-locked boundaries and no nasty neighbour can ever be detected. No blade of grass can ever abuse you.
Next is the pebble-creted driveway so sweetly curved upwards to the triple remote garage. So sorry; please allow me to prostrate myself humbly for having slighted you so badly. I will never ever do it again. Here, allow me to varnish you and let your pebbles shine for ever brightly. You have given so much welcoming and loving traction to the Michelin and Kuma tyres. I am so sorry.
Oh, the horror of the hurt I have knowingly inflicted on all those kind beds of nodding petunias, those havens of suburban peace and tranquillity, harbouring and giving respite to the tortured souls of the Westfield shopping malls with local pubs and clubs. How can I make up? Would you like some water, some kind Leghorn manure to boost your cheerful growth? I am sorry.
The leaf blower. I am so sorry. How can I make up for having accused you of noise and mayhem while all you did was blow away leaves onto your preying neighbours property or into the kerbs of endless avenues. Allow me to take you out for dinner and lubricate your twin carby cylinder. Anoint your inlet suction and empty the bag. Please, let me.
As for the crispy manicured lawn. The worst of all my misdemeanours. Let me sink on my knees and prise out all those lugubrious weeds with sinister intent on multiplying themselves during the dark of the night. Here let me mow you with my Victa and I’ll rake you lovingly in neat heaps, ready for the mulcher who I have never abused. I always held the mulcher in high esteem. I don’t know why.
Last but not least, the Venetian blind. Let me dust you. Please accept all my Christmas cards which I will stick through your slatted shiny apertures. If you like I can also give you a nice trade in for the vertical ones but how to attach the cards. I can also perhaps show contrition by getting boxes of twinkling lights to adorn the roof and garage door right up to the fence and along the lawns.
I won’t do it again.