Author Archives: Margot
Author Archives: Margot
Have you ever thought much about the generational gap? Does it really exist in this information age with new emerging technologies?
This Christmas just gone, Chris and I had the extreme pleasure of flying across the globe to spend a week with our four children, their partners and our grandchildren in the Arctic Circle in northern Finland. We stayed together in a “lodge”. We planned the event over three years and were thrilled to have such a special, treasured opportunity.
It was the first time we had all been together in the one dwelling with our children as adults, the eldest 32 and the youngest 24, with their partners. There was much to think about when I came home, most of it warm family memories. But I was also moved to contemplate my role in life as grandmother, anew.
I’m 56 now, a well-adjusted empty-nester. I pride myself on staying abreast of change and remaining relevant to the younger generation. I accept changing cultural values as inevitable, embrace them even. I perceive my children as being not much different from me, though I’ve been aware at times that they may not share this same sense of equality. It seemed easy to delude myself … because deluding myself I was.
Being with the family for such an intensive period was actually a little confronting. For the first part, both Chris and I were a little shocked at the change in our social status within our “tribe”. Chris really put his finger on it when we got home. They don’tneed us anymore. Wow. That’s good, but also confronting.
But further reflection on the week had the impact of unveiling my delusion that the generational gap didn’t really exist for me. It is as wide and broad as it has always been and I’ve been extremely naive to think that it wasn’t. Of course the kids were never under any such delusions.
The best example I can think to demonstrate the point is … it’s all in the ‘wind’. Wind is a topic my generation is most likely to avoid and yet it’s a topic our children don’t avoid, but accept openly. Actually they haven’t even grown out of finding it hilariously funny! Of course I’m talking about … farting!
I’ve witnessed this change and thought I’d accepted it openly as I watched the younger generation’s open honesty about their bodily functions. They give due warning when unpleasant smells are involved, display a willingness to take ownership for the most part, when accusations are raised. It all seems so much healthier than our ‘pretend it didn’t happen’ approach which borders on complete denial. ‘Fart’ was a very rude word, even taboo, when I grew up. Even now, though its usage is pervasive, the word still grates.
After living with our children for a week, I came away realising that while I accept these changing cultural practices and am no doubt more relaxed than my parents, I don’t really partake in them. I continue to stoically remain in the tradition in which I was raised. The children, sensing our different perspective, never really share with us the same way they share with each other. It’s an instinct, I guess. (Wasn’t I the same? … der!)
So there you have it … the generational gap. It’s alive and kicking and always will be. I’m sure my kids were never in any doubt, more fool me.
The experience made me think about how we must so imbibe the value systems of our time as we grow up that they become part of our fibre. (No wonder the social science research centres identify unique names for each generation.) Of course I acknowledge that it must be possible to change but … it’s darned hard, harder than I realised. Perhaps it’s not worth the effort for such a relatively trivial topic … or is it? I wonder if I had the courage to pull down some old boundaries, where it might lead? Do I want to? Should I?
No, I’ve elected to remain comfortably settled in my Baby Boomber status. I will never breach the generational gap … and that’s okay. It’s the natural order of things. But, I still can’t help wondering how far the next generation might take this freedom of expression? I hope I at least get a peak, as it will be very interesting to see indeed.
Life goes on and though changing cultural values emerge with each generation, the fact that the older generation struggle to adapt, shall never change.
In the meantime, I shall remain as open and communicative a Baby Boomer as possible.
One of the fascinating aspects of our new lifestyle is that the daily routine is so often unpredictable. We do plan of course … every Sunday over roast dinner we discuss the week’s activities. But a plan in the bush is only ever a loose guide as it can all be thrown to the wind.
Perhaps it rains (to be so lucky) or there is always the threat of the inevitable flat tyre. The Traprock can be unforgiving in more ways than one!
This is even worse if it happens to a tractor tyre. The tractor not working is very serious, as it means no ability to put out bales of hay/feed for the stock, no way to unload deliveries or move heavy objects around … the list goes on. No tractor can be crippling to a day’s work.
Or your day might be disrupted because you find the stock are on the road, or in the neighbour’s or worse, the heifers are in with the bull … they do go looking for trouble!
Perhaps the Jehovah’s Witnesses turn up at the door. Can you believe it? They come more regularly than you would expect … driving for an hour or more to say “Hello” and basically chat about nothing and leave some literature which is destined for the burn bin before they have reached the gate. Why do they bother? Actually, last time I asked them not to come any more. Chris made the mistake of engaging them in philosophical discussion for sport one visit. Regrettable! He became a target, then, identified as someone ‘searching’. Little did they know he’d hide when the car pulled up at the gate after that.
Sometimes the extreme heat can drive you inside forcing you to abandon a more physically demanding task. We’ve been severely dehydrated on more than one occasion. It can creep up on you without you realising. In winter a nasty bitterly cold wind can keep you in, though Chris often goes out regardless.
You might run out of fuel and need to order a new delivery. Can’t do much without diesel to run the vehicles nor unleaded to run the pumps, bikes etc.
There may be no running water in the house or the other day the waste water wouldn’t drain away. Problems like that can’t wait; they take over.
Or there might be a power outage … that can be crippling – no internet connection, no two-way radio! As our water pressure relies on a pump, no power means no running water in the house – no shower, no water to re-fill the toilet cistern (eek). At least you can plug in a crappy old phone for emergencies.
But despite all these intrusions, you know what? The awesome thing is that it doesn’t really matter. This lifestyle means we can be adaptable and let our day develop anyway it wants. It just means rearranging a few priorities. As long as it gets done, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s today or tomorrow.
Wouldn’t change it for the world … my day is my own and I love it.
Many country women take great pleasure in their gardens. It’s one thing I’ve struggled with in coming to live in the bush. I’m not a keen gardener as I’d rather be in the office writing. But I’ve worked at it (with some help) and I have to say after five years, my garden is gradually improving. This year some visitors even commented, “Margôt, the garden is looking lovely.” I was very proud as no one has ever said that to me before!
But today I had delight in sharing my neighbour’s triumph for a little while at “Cooinda” near Stanthorpe. Margaret Finlay’s spectacular array of colours and hidden delights took my breath away as I explored her substantial garden (which has grown over the years requiring the garden gate be pushed back again and again).
As I wandered, enjoying Margaret’s “contrasting colours” which appear random but I’m sure have been meticulously placed, I couldn’t help noticing the birds darting and diving around us chorusing the crickets and cicadas. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the garden. I’m told sometimes they are so loud it’s difficult to talk!
Margaret followed along contributing the names of the plants and telling me the story of her garden which echoes the story of her family. The Finlays have had their fair share of tragedy in recent years including losing a daughter and daughter-in-law to cancer. Her garden has become, in many respects, a memorial, nurturing family tributes to members now lost, amongst gifts from concerned loved ones and family eccentricities.
The garden has become Margaret’s life. It’s her work, her hobby, her passion … her retreat. I can’t see me ever achieving anything so heart-stopping at Spring Creek Station but I have to admire what Scott and Margaret have achieved. They’ve created a garden that the family loves to share for weddings, parties, barbeques, tennis tournaments. I imagined imbibing a casual glass of wine amongst the beautiful gums that have been gradually subsumed and provide a stunning contrast to the shrubs and bushes set around them.
It’s impossible not to be infected by Margaret’s enthusiasm. She made me realise a good garden is a learning journey: what works where; the importance of mulching, when to touch and when to leave alone. I shall have to visit again soon. I only scratched the surface!
If you are interested and live nearby, they are having an open garden on 2nd and 3rd November (http://www.opengarden.org.au/regions/qld_calendar.html). It’s $7.00 entry and proceeds raised support Kim Walter’s Choices Program based at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. I guess they wanted to give back a little. They certainly inspired me.
I finally got an opportunity to work in a shearing shed … something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
The music comes on, the motors start up … game on! The pace is fairly frenetic … set by the shearers. They get paid by the fleece so they work hard. I didn’t really know what to do but had to learn fast or those fleeces would bank up and you can’t let that happen. As soon as the fleece is off, the shearer’s through the door dragging along the next sheep. The rousabout has to grab the fleece (in a special way) and throw it onto the classing table. The better you throw the fleece, the easier and quicker it is to work.
I did some shockers! They would end up more in a bundle and it was hard to tell top from bottom. Oops. The head is always supposed to be at one end but I truly had trouble finding it a few times. Thank God for the expert classer on hand to help. But I did manage to throw a couple of beauties, very proud of that! And the only way to learn is to keep trying, and so I did.
Once the fleece is thrown, you have to work (usually in pairs) to pull off the skirting, then the neck and shanks and finally you separate the back. There are bins around the room for all the different bits.
Then you start again … in a hurry as the next fleece is waiting. If you do manage to catch up to the shearers, there is wool to be swept, bins to be emptied, bales to be trampled. So it goes for eight hours (with regular breaks of course).
It was tough at times. It makes you pull up for a second when you clamp down hard on an unseen prickle or burr. Perhaps worst of all was that nasty prickly pear whose needles are so fine they are difficult to get out! I can see a seasoned shed hand would need toughened skin. Working with the belly piece to pull out the stained bits (from urine) was not so nice a job … especially when the poor wether was fly-blown. Eek!
The sheep are surprisingly compliant and quiet. They rarely bleat and seem mesmerised by the whole affair. They tell me it’s only because the shearer knows how to handle them. Despite a few nicks and an undignified look on departure (looking very skinny), they don’t really seem to mind. Perhaps they’re glad to be rid of all that weight.
The camaraderie in the shed is uplifting. A good team working hard together brings a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. I think I’ll be back in that shearing shed sometime. It was a little addictive and somehow an experience tied up with my sense of being Australian. After all, shearing and shearing sheds shadow the myths of our past as a fledgling nation created by our hardworking pioneers … and now I’ve shared just a tiny part of it.