I have been weird and distracted for the past few days. I haven’t done anything productive, unless we count my semi-constant thoughts about my stories as productivity (which I kind of do and kind of don’t; it’s an integral step in my writing process, but it’s totally invisible and hard to “count”). It might just be the extra hours at my job that’s made me spacey, or it might be the time of year. I’m sleepy and content to just read a lot of books. It’s winter. Pull up a blanket next to the fire and eat apples all day.
I had a brief conversation with the lovely Cynthia Robertson about Western Australia. I don’t consider myself very nationalistic, but I truly love the land here, and there is something special about Australia. I described some of the landscape through our vast state, and it really got me thinking about a recent trip I took down south with some of my family. We drove for several hours through farmland, down into the gorgeous forests that cover the South West with cool, moist greenness. And even though I am making plans to move down there and live among the trees, it was the drive itself which brought up some interesting ideas.
There’s a secret part of me that believes the farmland is what Western Australia really is. It’s not “home” to me, not the way the dense bush is. The farms here are sprawling, dry-fenced yellow fields. We have some of the most unique trees here, growing as tall as they can, and throwing their branches wide at the top, looking almost like something from Dr. Seuss. In contrast to those, we have the short, curling trees; gnarled into a hunched, peeling, claw-like form. They are often scattered through the fields, either dead or dying, barren of leaves either way. Those trees are the melancholy bones of the bush that lived before the farms cleared everything away, laying under the endless blue skies.
I am an environmentalist, which is why my feelings towards the drought-weary hills and huddled cows and sheep come from a hidden place inside me. I am saddened by what humans have made from the world, and I see it here, in my homeland, where the farms have striped those places bare. But it’s so poignant. Driving through the country, you’re very alone, or very together. The harshness of the landscape only leaves room for absolutes. I’m a little bit in love with that part of Australia.