Grass. Watching it grow. That is, not eating it, although that might have been an option sometimes.
To begin, we (me) had a blinding flash of inspiration - a 'brilliant idea' which I often have - and I will add a comment here from a certain person who went to the country with me. The comment being another 'brilliant idea' which will never work out but never mind, let’s cast negative thoughts aside and go on.
"Let’s give up the city life" I said "and go and live in the country away from the noise and all the busy buses, we can have bees (always the romantic) and vegetables, pick flowers from our own garden and have dogs, play golf, walk hand in hand along the river banks. Like that television programme ‘The Good Life’ remember that? Have garden barbies. Go to the pub, have beer with the locals and make our own wine."
So we did. Sold up in Wellington and went over the hill to a country town in the Wairarapa and never looked back because we soon realised country life was well, living in the country. And we wished we hadn't done it (wasn't all my fault. Oh yes it was.)
Country people are obsessed with cows and dogs. Our new small town had lots of cows and, look don't laugh, cows are big. They drive them across the roads so you have to stop the car and just sit there. The cows would come up to the car windows and look in. What were we supposed to do? Pat them and say "Nice cow” or something? Anyway we thought it best to ignore them, pretend we hadn't seen them and we did this by looking the other way. But the other thing was they ‘go’ everywhere. All over the road, even when they are walking along they ‘go’ in front of you. Don't even squat down or anything, I mean to say, I don't mind a cow, but to ‘go’ in front of people is a bit much.
Dogs, well we never got a dog although I sometimes felt we were surrogate parents to several. Next door had a Rottweiler bitch. It lived down the back of their garden. Nothing else lived in the back of their garden. Nothing dared. We never went down the back of our garden - we didn't dare. The Rottweiler seemed to permanently want attention from a male Rottweiler or anything that looked like a male Rottweiler, or any dog that looked like a dog would do, because the entire local dog pack would desperately struggle to claw their way over our fence which fortunately was high but needs must and I had to chase away packs of the biggest hounds of the Baskervilles you will ever see. This went on for several weeks until the 'next doors' moved away we never saw them again. We had no idea what they looked like as they never came out of the house unless the dog was busy if you know what I mean, probably just threw a dead horse out the back door now and again.
The new neighbours were great if you like German Shepherd owners who have trained their dog to bark all night and all day and night when they go away for the weekends.
We didn't get a dog or a cow but we did do very well with the flowers and veggies. Both grew in profusion in our garden. To be truthful the trees grew only to a certain height then the regular monthly all year round gales uprooted them, blew them down and I had to saw them up into little bits of firewood, but as I said the fruit and vegetables grew very well. I personally didn't actually plant anything, more sort of designed the garden and pointed out the most favorable places the plants should be planted. I gave this advice freely and didn't expect any thanks as one only tries to help but none of the places I chose was actually used by the green goddess and yes I was a little hurt but the bruises did go down after a week or so which was just as well as people had the habit of knocking on our front door and looking bewildered when we answered as they were expecting someone else. "Is this 224 High St.?" they would ask, looking at a piece of paper in their hand, no smart phones in those days. “Yes it is” - “but we are looking for…” - “yes we know, but this is the country and there are two number 224's in the High St. one north and one south of the Post Office which is in the middle of the High St. and if you think this is peculiar and confusing so did we, but we didn't say so because I found out they - the locals - thought we were peculiar anyway because on our first day in town I filled up with petrol in the local garage and asked if they sold coffee which caused great hilarity out the back," – “He's asking for coffee in our garage, tee hee" giggle giggle.
Shops. They didn't have proper shops. Like with shop windows and that. They have farmers’ markets and craft markets. Everything is organic and grown in cows’ manure - what else? - which gives a sort of cowey flavour. Everything at a farmers’ market is twice the price but you can buy really good things at the craft market. These things are presumably made by the farmers and their wives sitting by their cosy firesides in Thailand. Useful things like organic knitted tea cosies, organic plastic clothes pegs, organic jewels made of glued together sea shells, organic woollen babies’ bibs, organic woollen babies if it came to that.
Country people buy half a cow a time. This is termed "a beast". They go to the farmer who goes to the butcher who goes out into the field and shoots the thing, drags it onto his pick up with a little hoisty thing, then cuts it up and the housewife pays for it. Don't ask what they do to the pigs. Its quite life changing.
We were told if we do go and live in the country it would be wise to buy a flat bed pick up truck as opposed to a proper car. A Holden would be good. If it is a new vehicle they said drive it straight from the dealers into the nearest ditch, rev like mad, spin those wheels and get it covered in mud. Hopefully when you do get out of the ditch you will have a couple of dents which you can complement by throwing a couple of two metre planks of four by two timber on the back, and a ladder. Make sure the timber and ladder juts out to the right hand side and tie a old white rag on the end. This makes it difficult for any 'townies’ to pass. Then we were told, get a dog. The dog will live permanently on the flat bed truck and be taught to snarl at anyone who shaves more than once a month. Male or female. Do not tie the timber down or secure the dog in any way, it spoils the effect. We could now drive slowly down the main street to the country supply shop. Every town has one. In the shop buy canvas shorts with big pockets. They will go with the black singlet you will need to wear with the check shirt they will automatically put on your account. Over the singlet and shirt pull on the biggest, loosest, thickest, out of shape woollen jersey the shop can find. Complete the ensemble with a Ferguson tractor billed cap pulled well down over one’s eyes. Get boots. Carefully remove the laces. Never wear laced up boots. Get thick woollen socks. This ensemble never alters winter or summer. Note: there are only two seasons in the country. The only occasion you may need something different would be a wedding or a funeral then you might like to consider a black "beanie" to show maximum respect. You are now ready to go to the pub.
Again, we were told, this is a defining moment in a country town. When we go into the pub we were told under no circumstances smile. Or make eye contact with anyone. A bartending person will approach and stand in front of you. He or She (you may not be able to tell the difference but you may find as the evening goes on, yes you can) the bar tenderer will not speak, you simply nod at the nearest pump. The bartending person will nod back and a beer will appear in front of you. It will not be any beer that appears in any T.V. commercials featuring happy young people, as the country pubs do not sell anything like this on principle.
Well we lived in this country town for a couple of years or so then moved on. Met some nice people but in the end, pleased to move and we never did get to walk hand in hand along the river banks because my brilliant idea didn't work out because there was no river. Wasn't all my fault.
Yes it Was.