Tuesday 9 July 2013

The largest sexual organ of them all and clammy females in my bed.

How's this for a distinctive plant?
This thing is, believe it or not, a lily.
It is close sibling to the better known Gymea Lily (below).
The Gymea is characterised by a red stamen, and the mighty beast on the right has a white flower.
I believe it is called the Madagascan Flax Lily, but may have the country wrong, anyway I will confirm that before publishing deadline.
(Yes, even I have deadlines, self-imposed, but they exist nonetheless.)
I am only in the picture for scale, I didn't plant it, tend it or have anything to do with making it what it is.
It grows in the garden of my Clunes client Eric and is another tribute to the amazing fecundity of the soil up there.
There has been a bit of a plant theme running the last few weeks and I realised that this picture had to go in.
Every time I look at this plant I am reminded of my luck.
Many of us never find their place in life, and so despite my seemingly eternal poverty and ceaseless moaning I have to say I have been astonishingly lucky in that I figured out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to live.
And it all came to me in one moment.
I was surfing at The Pass in Byron on my annual holiday, away from the IT world of Sydney, and I looked across at the green clothed slopes of Wollumbin (Mt Warning), as represented in this pic (right).
My family have been farmers for generations and as I looked at those slopes I began thinking, "There are few better places in the world to be a gardener".
(NB: there is a subsidiary philosophical lesson there as well. All your best ideas come when you are surfing.)
So that holiday I returned to Sydney with some excitement, that itself was a novel feeling, and began making plans to leave the city forever.
Eventually I unhooked and finally drifted into town one rainy Saturday afternoon with everything I owned under my arms or on my back.
In retrospect I would have done it with more money (sand dunes are not so much fun to sleep on when it is for more than one night), but then that's a third philosophical lesson, that Paula, my wonderful therapist wholeheartedly agrees with, that all of us would have done nearly everything differently if time machines existed.
So enough philosophy, let's move from plants to animals.
But before we do I'll tell you about Ray Braduick.
I read this story in a Bill Bryson book and it still fascinates (me anyway).
Ray was a keen amateur pilot and his favourite thing to do was to take his Gypsy Moth up for a spin at dawn on a Sunday morning.
One Sunday he did as usual and was startled, to say the least, to see the horizon carpeted with Japanese Zero fighters.
Ray lived in Hawaii and this particular Sunday was December 7, 1941, and the Zeroes were launching their attack on Pearl Harbour.
They fired upon Ray, and he sheared off and due to skill and luck, landed his craft and lived to tell the tale.
Therefore Ray became the first American to take part in World War II.
However no one remembers him, as they do Sir Edmund Hilary, or Roald Amundsen, first to the top of Everest and the South Pole, respectively.
And thus, I have a fund of disconnected stories that I think are interesting, but have no real connection to anything else, so I am going to bung a couple in here.
So, unconnected stories.
First: I believe I hold the world one-legged standing long jump record.
When I escaped from Kelso High School, my first real job was as laboratory attendant at Charles Sturt Uni.
Among my myriad tasks was collecting leaf litter in the sclerophyll scrub at Sunny Corner (a misnomer if ever there was one) about 20 k east of Bathurst on the Lithgow road.
The lecturer, David Goldney, I believe, had placed wooden-framed trays with a wire base throughout the forest and once a month I went out and collected any plant matter that had fallen into the tray.
David used this as a measure of the "speed" of the ecosystem.
So one winter morning I drove out and was bashing through the forest doing my collecting.
I came along the path and stepped over a fallen log and as I looked down to keep my footing was rapidly and irremediably discombobulated to observe that a Tiger Snake was lying in the grass a mere 20cm below my rapidly descending right boot.
I have no recollection of the next few seconds.
The next thing I do remember was standing on the path some three metres from the snake looking back.
Slowly, ever so slowly, my limbs began to return to my control.
The shaking eased and it dawned on me that powered by pure fear I had leapt off my planted left leg, no doubt shrieking like a debutante afeared of getting mud on her dress, cleared the log (approx 70cm high) and launched myself the full three metres to an entirely new grid co-ordinate.
Climbing the air ladder farmers call it.
So there you go, I can't prove it, certainly there were no measurements, but I nonetheless claim the world one-legged standing long jump record.
For the record, I can say this was possibly the only time in my life that I was happy that Bathurst is so zarking cold.
Why the snake wasn't hibernating I do not know, but the bone-chilling freeze of that Sunny Corner morning kept the beast sluggish and little interested in the activities of any large endothermic mammals nearby.
Next, clammy females in my bed.
At the time I was living in a converted garage 10 k or so west of Byron toward Mullumbimby.
(NB: I have a dream! A simple dream really, to one day live in a building designed to house humans, not cars as then, or a tent as now.)
I slept on a sleeping roll on the floor and one night I was blissfully asleep when all of a sudden, SPLAT!!!!, a green tree frog landed on my face.
As with the snake above, to say I was merely disconcerted is a completely underwhelming term to describe my reaction.
I went from prostrate on the floor to clinging gibbon-like to the rafters in less time than it takes scream, "What the zarking buggary was that!!!"
 This particular frog and I had coexisted quite happily for some time, she lived in the drain hole under my downpipe which came down on the outside wall next to the door of my bedroom.
This night she had hopped the wrong way and entered my dwelling, then unable to get back out she had commenced hopping around the perimeter wall of my sleeping area trying to find an exit.
Eventually her staccato progress had brought her to a point where her way forward intersected with the start of my bedding roll and with one more hop and we were getting some genuine face time.
An ice age later my heart rate dropped below a hundred and I loosened my grip on the rafters and returned to earth, literally and metaphorically.
I switched on the light, grabbed the frog, returned her to her drain hole and closed the gauze door that I had forgotten earlier when I went to bed.
I found a half-smoked joint in my ashtray, fired it up and with the calming smoke regained the ability to sleep.
I checked my bed from top to bottom to see if anything else had decided to pay me a visit, found it clear and went back to bed.
As I drifted off to sleep I understood that nature had provided me with a little thumbnail of where my life was at.
The first female in nearly a decade to willingly get in bed with me was not even the same species, and even then I had responded by leaving said bed with the rapidity of a Saturn rocket.
I really, really needed a girlfriend.

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