Monday, 18 June 2007

Wind snakes and aesthetics

One of the things we’ve been talking about at the historical society is producing some postcards of the local area. Someone suggested that we needed to wait for everything to green up before taking pictures. I’ve lived in this area for just over four years now and I have rarely seen the fields green. On a handful of occasions we have had enough rain for the grass to grow rapidly, but it is an aberration rather than a state of normalcy.

I can remember asking a friendly neighbour when we moved here how he kept his large property looking so tidy, “the mowing must take hours.” He told me that he hadn’t mowed for months, that the tidiness was lack of water, rather than personal effort.

This ideal of green equating to beauty is an interesting inheritance from our migrant background. I personally find the muted tones of the hills and grass beautiful. Every shade of yellow, brown, khaki, muted green and soft blue blends together. One of our former neighbours used to let her back paddock go ungrazed for the winter. Golden grass rippled in endless waves over the hillside, threatening to pour over you and drag you into the undertow.

Clouds shadows dart across the fields, constantly changing the landscape. The backs of leaves catch the wind and shimmer. This to me is as beautiful as the emerald fields of lore.

Even though I understand the necessity and feel greedy for thinking it, I hate to see the road verges mowed for animal feed. A small part of me begrudges the animals this small amount of nutrition. I watch the neighbours converging on the grass from both sides of our property and I want to rush out and stop them. My children call the sound of wind moving through the tall grass “wind snakes.” There aren’t many wind snakes this winter.

Postcards that show this area as green and verdant might meet some ideal aesthetic but they wouldn’t be accurate. Every day I see things that make me stop, look and appreciate. Would people disdain images of these as postcards?

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