Today over at Outback Paparazzi, we’re focusing on THE LITTLE THINGS. Things that make us smile, when we stop and look for them.
I love dew drops on the fence, green grass, good coffee, beautiful views, kids laughing. Cattle sitting contentedly chewing their cud. Too many things to mention – oh, the moon rising.
I wrote this piece back in 2011, but it still holds all the sentiments I wanted to share it with you. I’d love to hear what little thing made you smile today.
Stop and smell the Canola flowers
I’m not sure why it’s heart wrenching, incomprehensible tragedies, which jolt us into stopping and looking at our lives. Why can’t we see what we have all the time, not just when something terrible happens?
As wives, mothers and businesswomen, we tend to rush from job to job, without taking a breath. We have a seemingly huge mountain to climb; kids, work, farming, bookwork, elderly parents. The list is endless. We get tired, but keep going, because that’s what women do. And we know that if we do stop, the chores will build up and there is no one else to do them.
I’m as guilty as the next person.
But I’ve also had a few shocks over the last couple of years that have taken the wind from my sails.
It took my friend’s little boy dying to stop and look at my kids and wonder why couldn’t I appreciate the smiles they give me, right now? Their grins are priceless and all I did, flash them a quick half-hearted one as I rush through the house on a mission to do something that didn’t really matter.
It took me becoming my mother-in-law’s carer to understand it’s the small things which actually matter – a cooked meal and an offer to hang out some washing is all well and good. But it’s the time you take to sit and talk is what she wants the most.
And it took another a dear friend’s diagnosis of breast cancer for me to speak up and say ‘hey, the only thing that matters to me, is my family and friends. Bugger the farm. Let’s spend some time together.’
Today’s world is not like the ‘old’ days. We are a society of ‘instant-ness.’ Instant messaging, instant emails, instant communication. And I know of people, who, they don’t get what they need immediately, they become angry.
Our lives seem to hurtle along at an unstoppable pace, propelled by all the modern “conveniences”.
As a writer, it is important to me to look for the details of our farming life, and I often photograph these things to preserve them for my minds eye – you never know when you might need them. The best part about carrying the camera, is that it makes me stop and breathe and, no matter how fleetingly, forget about the puddle that is our drying dam, the dwindling stock numbers and the pressures of lambing percentages, higher crop yields and improved wool production. With a photographers eye, I can look for the beauty in our unique landscape. It’s the same view, just with a different perspective.
When the modern demands make my head whirl, I often think of my grandparents and the leisurely way that Nana and Papa lived their lives, farming the station country. My husband and I own 8,000 acres on the south coast of Western Australia and as a lot of you will know, a farm is a parasite. It will suck everything from you, if you let it. It’s a very different life to what my grandparents lived.
Last year I visited my family at Glenroy Station. It’s the place I go when I need to heal. As a kid, when Nana and Papa were in control we used to wander down to the creek to lite a fire. We boiled the billy and shared some biscuits for smoko. My Papa would always stop marking or drafting in the yards at 9.30am when Nana appeared with a basket full of sponge cake and sausage rolls. Everything seemed to be calm and measured. I guess they had the same worries that we face today. Except the instant-ness.
That small break gave me the distance and change of scenery I yearned, and a chance to stop and smell the flowers – and the scones. I’m determined now to take my early morning coffee outside where I can breathe the brisk air. Even though I know at some stage, life will intervene again and I’ll be back to dragging my heels – there’ll always be something to be thankful for, and to photograph. Recently it’s rain and the canola crops beginning to flower.
When things get too tough for me outside, it’s a pleasure to bury myself in writing, where I can make it rain or have the cattle eating green grass that is a foot high. It’s my escape and I’m not sure that I would have dealt with the 2008 drought as well as I did, if I couldn’t disappear inside my fictional world for a time.
2008 saw us agist over eight hundred cows across WA, some nearly eight hours drive away. We ran short of water and hay. Because of this and previous bad seasons, I know how soul destroying it is to hand-feed stock day after day, with nothing but blue skies and northerly winds for company. Skinny cattle and poor sheep tear at your heart, because contrary to some beliefs, farmers actually care for their animals. It’s during these sorts of times, I have to remind myself to look for the beauty.
That’s why it is so important to have an outlet. That dreaded year of 2008 and late breaks, since, has made me stop and smell the flowers – even if it’s only the Canola. It chases away the demons that try plague me when things aren’t going well.
When did you last stop and watch a sunset? A sunrise? Take a cup of coffee or glass of wine onto your front lawn and enjoying the view? When did you last have a real conversation with your husband, son or daughter?
Here’s a challenge. I wonder if you could try it once a week for a month and see how you feel? After all, everything will still be the same in fifty years, but the difference you make to yourself and your loved ones will immense.