Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wild Apples and Return to Rhymes

There's a tree about 20 metres down the Omeo Highway from our driveway.  I walked past it four times a day, for years, as I went to and fro the dairy at Noorongong.  I finally, actually, noticed it in 2005, when it threw forth great, red, old fashioned apples. They took me back to years as a kid in Wales, and tasting old breed fruit from an orchard in the grounds of  ruined mansions and farms. I picked baskets and baskets of the Noorongong apples and carted them up to The Man from Snowy River Festival, along with a car load of abstract art and two memorised poems by Henry Lawson.  I didn't sell a lot of art, the poem about the girl left waiting by the slip rail was well received, the poem about girl rouse-abouts dressed up as boys was less well received...and the wild apples sold like crazy.  One couple bought two apples, then came back an hour later with bicycles and panniers to fill. It was delightful.  I've watched the tree on and off over the years since 2005, but nothing doing.  This year is different - paltry stone fruit crops, but apples everywhere.  Driving Joe backwards and forwards to kinder, up and down these valleys, I'm dodging pickers of all ages as they raid the roadside trees.  Yesterday, finally, I put on my Harvest Smock from Cottage Industry and went to work.  The fruit was smaller than back in 2005, and not as red, but still pretty tasty and super crisp. Of all the casual jobs I've done, commercial fruit picking was one of my favourites, and I really had to stop myself from slipping back into the zone and stripping the tree. On the way back up the drive I spotted another tree, and what a wonder it was. A great sprawling cave of tangled branches, massive fruit low for the picking, and a wombat in residence underneath.  By strange coincidence, I've been tempted into performing in the Upper Murray again, at the upcoming Jingellic Show.  I wrote a poem called Horses and Women this morning, and it's still pretty rough.  Like a lot of bush poetry it needs inspired reading aloud to make up for the bumpy scan. It's a very long way from the beat-booze-inspired rant I put on at TINA in 2009, but it makes me laugh, and hopefully it will raise a few smiles on other people too. A harvest prayer to the muse: may the poetry zone be as accessible as the fruit picking one.


  1. a guard wombat
    did you perform the poem to appease him?