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Pears Falling

by Kate Ashforth 11 months ago in Nature
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The pandemic effect

Colours flick past the window of the passenger side of my car. I'm soaking in snippets of nature, travelling back from the road as far as the eye can see. Vibrant yellow canola flowers against an indigo sky. Rolling hills in the distance dotted with cows and little trees. Luscious fruit ripening on vast orchards in the blaring sun. Nature puts on a display every time I take a road trip to fruit country.

A source of inspiration is what I find. The shapes of trees silhouetted against the sun. The bumps created by hills rich in green, and bluey coloured shadows. The never-ending swatches of flowers, contrasting against their surrounds. The sparkling reflections on dams and rivers. The fluffy white clouds popping against a deep blue sky. This is where ideas come from. My eyes take it all in. Recording and cataloging what I visually devour.

I am a city girl now, but always a country girl at heart, the familiarity of the landscape is nourishing. Reliable. It speaks to my core memories. It presses play on the Super 8 film in my mind. Roll tape. I see myself walking in nature with childhood friends or my sisters. I hear sounds and smell the bush and barbeques cooking near the Goulburn River. I sense a feeling of comfort and belonging, walking in wet grass in a paddock, picking a ripe piece of fruit and smelling the rancid dung of cattle. This place is one of our country's food bowls, where agriculture is the life blood and from which we receive fruit, vegetables and dairy. So I expect to see life rolling on in the valley as it always has.

But life can through the occasional curveball. Every century catastrophic events come along to disrupt the flow, when we aren't paying attention. We aren't ready for the its damaging effects and can't see what's down the road. A pandemic is a once in a lifetime occurence. When it creeps into our communities we are too busy being in shock and just trying to survive each day. I can only see my local surrounds when I am locked down and after I'm let out, only then can I travel to the country to find some peace and fresh air. These are not the only things I will find there.

One of the precious outings I often take with my parents is a drive to a regional winery. During, I do my regular routine. Peering out the window. Observing and taking in the environment. When we arrive at Tallis, on sacred Aboriginal land, I can't wait to sit near the giant glass windows and study the terrain. The open skies and vast landscape allow me to take many mind pictures. The wine is satisfying and the food complements the fragrant liquid. I am free after many weeks locked away. I have the space to think and stretch everything, including my smile.

With full tummies, we jump onboard the meticulously clean Camry and I ready myself for a warm and fuzzy ride home. The wine has done its job and I get to observe the other side of the road. I see an orchard approaching with what appear to be trees abundant with fruit. A bumper crop I think. As we get closer, I see the reality of it all. Pear trees packed with fruit. Dark, over-ripe fruit unpicked and littered on the orchard floor. My smile disappears. "Dad!" I exclaim desperately. "What's happened to the fruit?" He replies somberly, "There's no-one to pick it." The pandemic has long tentacles.

The reality hits again. An over abundance of fruit with no workers to pick them. No back packers. No fly in workers. Not enough hands to pick this fruit that we rely on. Orchardists suffering major financial loss. I couldn't look out the window anymore. I was worried about what else I might see.


About the author

Kate Ashforth

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