When the fishing rod was bobbing up and down in the water I knew I had caught a fish. I loved standing on the craggy point looking into the water watching the minnows feed. This day I was fishing not far from where I lost mum’s chip frier. She said, “If you take that thing make sure you bring it back, your father likes chips.” On that occasion it was a matter of losing the frier, or losing my footing and falling into the water and swimming with the minnows I had been attempting to catch. I chose to stay dry. The day I elected to get wet and swim into the wintery lake and retrieve my rod I was bored. While waiting for the fish to bite I had built quite a big fire and I knew I could dry off by it if I swam to get my rod. My new insight is, fishing was something I did while waiting for something else to do. Anglers have more patience.
The Southern Ocean has been a constant factor in my life. I have driven the western Victorian coastline over and over. Therefore this little insight could be from anywhere in all those kilometres. Instead of illustrating the bravery of the deep water seamen who put to sea each day from one of the dozen piers in their ‘Couta boats, only to over- fish Barracuda, or Southern Rock Lobsters I choose to tell the story of the amateur. The Lorne pier is the place to recall the stoicism of fishermen.
At any time, in any season, on a visit to the pier, you will find at least one lone person with the patience to fish with a rod and reel. Silently, crouched to avoid the wind, the rain, or any other element the world can throw up, the fisher waits to catch a pinkie, a salmon, or common fish swimming by. If they catch a fish and drop in in their fish bucket they simply return to throw their line in and do it again without fuss. Even if they go home without a catch they will tell you they have had a good day. Their love, is the experience of doing.
My life companion has a different attitude to routine. She gets enjoyment doing things precisely, step by step. She knits while watching television. The thousands of repetitive steps, twisting wool this way, catching the tread, and twisting it around her finger so she can reverse it on the the opposite needle, is therapeutic. To her it is not a chore.
Neither is, it seems, anything requiring repetition. Take jig saws. In order to improve her failing eye sight she willingly chooses to spend leisure time tirelessly selecting this shape and the colour to match a picture with pre-cut shapes. Strangely she finds ironing a basket of clothes no more difficult than piecing together a thousand jig saw pieces When it comes to repetitive jobs in our house one person will elect to do it without complaint.
Back in the seventies the Buninyong Shire faced a storm of new arrivals. We had chosen to live on farmlets. Our rates went up overnight. The reckoning was with so many new residents the Shire had to raise revenue quickly in order to pay for the services now demanded. They determined a range of new residents had chosen to live on their properties for lifestyle and they were not farmers. The new system meant we were moved from the affordable Farming Rate ( rated so much in the dollar per acre) to Residential (a rate based on the house value.)
Naturally this caused a lot of disquiet. With the aid of some neighbours we called a meeting of affected people. The meeting was a hostile affair but there was consensus the size of the property was not an indication of its use. Some people could illustrate they were working their land full time. Most could not. My very smart neighbours said they were planting fruit trees (walnuts to be precise). They argued their farm should not be rated as a lifestyle farm as they were farming but they had to leave their properties daily for a paying job because their trees could not be harvested for at least seven years and no one could expect them to live without an income so long.
In the end the council had a problem it could not easily solve. In my case I moved to a new position. Lead on by my internal fight, flight seemed easier than staying. Before we left we had planted lots of trees. We planted so many it is impossible to see our old house without making a detour. Our neighbours that planted out their property with fruit trees have left their family an inheritance that will keep giving for generations. That is the benefit of patience.
When it comes to patience. The most patient people in this land are it’s first peoples.
Many years before my skirmish with the council a protest started in Canberra. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy out side old Parliament House started in1972. It was a protest about land rights.. In the intervening years the fight for Aboriginal Land Rights has been constant. The right to land rights was won in the High Court with the Marbo case. That was only the beginning because every agreement has sine been a hard won negotiation and taken years longer than imagined. (unless you think it has been too easy for people who have lived continuously on that land have no right to it.)
Either way, the perseverance shown to obtain those rights illustrates, right is ultimately stronger than mere political bastardry. This is the common arsenal used in Canberra when things don’t go the way directed by the political class.
Some things are worth fighting over. Take for instance the carbon bank we call trees. A reasonably short protest has been occurring on the Western Highway. The road department is building a four lane highway joining two country towns. The only thing preventing the development pressing on are a few trees. The trees in question have resisted fire, flood, and drought for six hundred years. This is just a heartbeat in the life of the world itself but generations of mankind. And this is its significance.
Our seaside village is undergoing a rapid change. A new city is being built. The developers have bought all the land they could. Before they build they raise everything that once stood on that ground including the life giving top soil. Six months after the bull dozers leave a new suburb of chocolate boxes stand where people tilled the land.
The developers have hurried, so the people who arrive after them can slow down and rest in their new homes. To help the future heat bank effects of those homes be reduced, avenues of saplings are planted. In sixty years the shade needed will be enjoyed as a resource worth keeping. When thought of in this simple way trees ten times older are worth the inconvenience of making a detour on a country highway. Somethings are worth waiting for.