Too many Sundays.


Just when I thought life had gone back to normal another public holiday is looming. Australia day. It will be Sunday again tomorrow. Even though shops might be open, public holidays in small towns are redolent of scratching dogs and empty footpaths, bar for some, who like us are in search of life and joyful company. We keep wandering.

I know tomorrow will be a celebration of Australia. The TV has been full of Ads urging us to search deep within ourselves to find an original reason to celebrate again our glorious abode of Australia and what it means to live in Australia. ‘Go on’ the TV man urges, what do you think is special about Australia? And an image is shown of a man lying in the grass with a map of lollies in the shape of Australia on his round pale stomach. Yuk. He then starts to slowly eat a lolly at a time.

Even the brilliance of TV advertisements gurus could not think of a more suitable image. So what hope have le peuple got? On ABC TV today there was an hour long program on Australia with the theme of ‘Girt by Sea’. It was a potpourri showing endless waves and miles of footage with surf board riders. A relentless army of sun and coconut oiled bodies sweating themselves into future melanomas. As the movie went though the history of Australian surf, surf board riders, surf life savers, and sun baking; it clearly showed that lying in the sun seemed to have reached its peak some years ago. Younger up-and-coming surf riders now wear full body suits and sunbaking has lost some of its much vaunted popularity. Many now wisely seek shade and cover of trees.



There will be the usual cars with tooting horns going around with little Federation flags stuck outside the car window. The occupants shouting Aussie Aussie, oi, oi, oi and I’ll smile back good humouredly but without too much conviction. I find all that conventional patriotism a bit silly and should really give them the two fingers salute. I am getting a bit old for a punch up though. It reminds me when I stood up for an elderly lady whose intended parking spot at Woollies Super Market was taken by some hood who quickly put his car in her spot, grinning stupidly. You’re a real bastard, I stated firmly and without flinching. He came to punch me and with his steely determination too. His girl friend with a serpent tattoo got out of the car, and said…(get a bit closer now, dear readers)…”Leave him alone, HE IS JUST AN OLD MAN”. And this was years ago before we moved to the farm in 1996. Geez, the hurt and humiliation still bites. I was old before middle age.

As for Australia day. Here is a poem that says it so much better than all that flag waving;
Dorothy Mackellar.
“The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.”

Dorothea Mackellar

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23 Responses to “Too many Sundays.”

  1. rod Says:

    The whole thing sounds a bit tedious to me, though compared to many places (the Ukraine) at least the boundaries are easy to define.


  2. Andrew Says:

    Have a joyous day, Gerard and if it gets a bit chilly then throw another koala on the fire.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, we will, but I have already done the whipper snipping on the 10sq M. of grass today. Yesterday we saw ‘imitation game’ a good movie. What to do tomorrow on Ayustralia Day? Bake a cake, go and shout on the footpath oi, oi, or just stay calm and try watch lonely cricket game while wearing white pants and a cap at a rackish angle.?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. auntyuta Says:

    “I love a sunburnt country . . . ” I think this is very fitting for Australia Day. Thanks for this and for taking the time to include all the other verses of Dorthea Mackellar’s poem.
    I am glad that this jerk’s tattooed girl-friend saved you from a senseless punch-up. Just an old man – so what? He was just a jerk, young and stupid. After all you did not hesitate to put your point of view across, I reckon this counts for something. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh, that remark has often been re-told by Helvi which thought it very funny, ; ‘,you are nothing but an old man now’, Better that than a punch up. I wasn’t upset by the remark and felt somewhat heartened. I had reached another level. Old man!


  4. bkpyett Says:

    Thank you for the reminder of Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, it is very meaningful to me, as we learnt it in Primary School. Beautiful.
    It is sad to see patriotism linked to the baser instincts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Master of Something Yet Says:

    The Blood Bank is open today. I am going to donate plasma so I may feel something good has come out of the day.


  6. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    I thought the poem wonderful, it made me feel an instant loyalty (and I’ve never been there). Of course, i was brought up on Nevil Shute novels and Australia’s landcsapes run through them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I wrote about our first impressions arriving on a Sunday in Australia in my memoirs, mentioning Nevil Shute’s novel.

      “Not a soul to be seen. Was this a practise run for a Neville Shute’s film set of ‘on the beach’? This might be the best way to describe what confronted our family walking through the deserted and weather board peppered street scapes, even though the ‘on the beach’ was not written till 1957 with its theme of an Australian town awaiting death from an atomic bomb. Perhaps the feeling of a town without people being visible often acts as a catalyst for many a book or painting. Did Neville Shute visit Fremantle on a Sunday prior to writing his best seller, I wonder? Apart from Neville Shute’s book and film with Ava Gardner, another example of the strange feeling of this typical Australian town on a Sunday, might well be in contemplating a painting by Jeffrey Smart. Of course at that time, those artists were totally unknown in Fremantle and no amount of clairvoyance of its people could have been responsible for the feeling of emptiness in those streets. In fact, there were people there, with here and there a steady radio drone coming from within the cream painted weatherboards. Years later when I learned how to spot signs of life within those curtained and venetian blinded off houses, a cricket score then often betrayed life”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Breathes there the man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said? ”
    This is my own, my native land?”
    Sir Walter Scott


  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    So beautiful and pertinent.


  9. berlioz1935 Says:

    Dorthea Mackellar’s poem reflects Australia much more than our national anthem does. In the anthem, they sing that they invite everybody to come and share in our bounty. Bad luck if you come by boat. As if they are handing out visas in Tehran or Kabul.

    Uta was channel surfing and found that one channel was reporting live from LA about some celebrity. The USA is still more important to us than our own country.


  10. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Gerard, at least the age thing worked in your favor. That punk would have made mince meat out of you.

    Very nice poem. So I reckon you and Helvi celebrated and went merrily about the day.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Silver in the Barn Says:

    Happy Australia Day to my favorite Dutch-Aussie blogger!!


  12. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist Says:

    great poem. This false patriotism gets me also. We had a lunch indoors and recited poetry afterwards including that wonderful one above – none of us could remember that many verses though I have to admit.


  13. Patti Kuche Says:

    So he didn’t throw a punch but the jibe hurt just as much. At least you provide us with cracking entertainment!


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