When you live inland, summer in Australia is many shades of brown. People from the coast come to visit and the first thing they say is, “It’s so brown!” I like to think of it as golden brown, like the grass in the photo above, which was surely spun into gold overnight by Rumpelstiltskin. This week I went even further inland on a work trip, to an area where so much food is grown in soil that from the air looks dry, brown and unproductive.
They add water, brown water, and end up with rice, citrus fruit and pretty much every crop you can think of. It’s hard work. I heard farmers talk with equal amounts of passion and exhaustion about how they look after their brown land, about how frustrated they are at the rules that people in government departments in green cities make up to apply to them, out beyond the Great Divide, where life is completely different. For a mad moment, sitting in my brown motel room, I channelled Chairman Mao and thought up a plan to make everyone from the well-watered cities come out to visit the country to experience life on the brown land. Then they would have an idea of how much work it takes to feed us.
It’s not all hard work, though. There’s fun to be had in the golden brown paddocks. And there’s quirky brown metal art to prove it.
There are crazy motel carpets celebrating the history of farming and stock work, in tones of golden brown, of course.
And all I can really say, now that I’m back in my little house made of brown seventies brick, in an inland city that’s well stocked with everything it needs, is thank you. Thank you to everyone who lives on the land and spins straw into gold to feed us and to keep the economy afloat. It’s official: farmers are really doing that. So, thank you. We really appreciate it and we don’t say that often enough.