Sunday, 6 May 2012

"It is lovely but it is not green"

he says. Silence.
I suspect I am the only person who understands what the person making that statement means. There are a number of us standing on the verandah of his present home. We are looking out over the valley. It dips down to a creek and then rises up in a perfect curve to the paddock with the sheep in it. They are grazing quietly. There are gum trees scattered on either side of that paddock. There are several willows by the creek. There is rough grass.
We all manage to ignore the electricity pylons to our left and the main road some distance to the right.
        "That's the village," he responds to another question and gives himself away again. Here in Australia it is a "town". It is considered to be a reasonable size.
Years ago this man married an Australian girl. They have come out here after years of not-quite-nagging, hints, not-so-gentle-suggestions, requests and almost-demands from her parents. Oh yes, they are happy enough - for the moment. What makes it bearable for him is the thought that they will go back.
         "I am enjoying the country," he tells someone else, "There are some lovely bush walks and the scenery is amazing."
Again, it sounds as if this is merely a working holiday for him.  Other people ask him questions and I can see him struggling to give honest but diplomatic answers. He is that sort of man. He does not want to hurt anyone's feelings by appearing to be less than enthusiastic about being here.
Later we happened to find ourselves standing alone for a moment and he said to me,
         "You know the light is different here. The colours are different."
         "Yes, you're right. The colours are harsher - the greens are yellow greens aren't they?"
         "Yes, that's it. I thought you understood what I was talking about. The greens look wrong."
         "There needs to be another word for it."
         "Yes - I bet the aboriginals have more than one word for it."
         "Almost certainly - although I have no idea what the words would be."
         "I think," he tells me, "that is what is wrong. I don't understand the language of this landscape."
         "You will go back eventually won't you?"
         "Yes - but don't tell her parents that. They think we are here to stay - that it is home. I suppose it is = for now."
Yes,  it is home - for now - and it will never be home at all. Some people never fit into some landscapes.
I understand that only too well.


Lisa Shambrook said...

I've lived in the UK all my life, and have been in Wales for almost 20 years, people who visit from all over the world always mention the 'green'...not sure there's anywhere else like it!
I feel for him.
Might be a silly question but people say New Zealand is very green, is it that different from Australia?

catdownunder said...

It is not a silly question Lisa - yes, New Zealand's climate (especially in the South Island) is cooler. It does make a difference.
Wales (where it is not coalmines and manufacturing) is properly green! (My parents said that Ireland was even greener - must be the rain that does it!)

Lisa Shambrook said...

Just commented on your clothesline post, so yes, Wales is wet, but oh so gloriously green! Have yet to visit Ireland, the Emerald Isle, but will do!

Shauna said...

I've lived in most parts of the UK, and Wales and Ireland are mostly definitely 'green'.
New Zealand is also green. We live in Auckland which is warm and wet, and there are a glorious variety of greens because of the ferns, palms, and pines.

I've lived here for about 17 years, and after many years of traveling and moving, and nothing feeling like home, I finally found it when I came here. There's nothing like home.