Monday, 17 March 2008


(Please read in a soft, David Attenborough voice and pause, at every coma, to gain best effect).

The "Aussie summer gardener" is a rare breed of hardy humans who brave extremely high temperatures to provide food for their family group. Often seen standing for long periods, gazing forlornly at wilting vegetables, unable it appears, to comprehend what needs to be done to save them.

The clothing worn by these creatures, during these difficult times, is akin to the moulting lizard, that discards all unnecessary embellishments in an attempt to survive for long periods in temperatures often exceeding anything previously known to sustain human life.

A common adaptation of the people of this sunburnt country is to adorn their feet in a variety of boots, locally designed and made, to withstand any treatment thrown at them, summer and winter, rain or shine. No socks are worn during summer and sweat trickles profusely into the leather of the boots and it is this which is believed to be the reason why the boots last so long. These creatures' total lack of clothing sense displays to the observer that all normal thinking is melted into a kind of hot, molten mass unable to function much at all until a cool drink brings relief, and with it the realisation that, in a moment of over-heated madness, they displayed themselves in such attire on etherland.

This pose, of standing resting on a tool , is common amongst another group of Aussies called "The Council Workers" who, in groups of at least 3 but up to 10, spend more hours standing thus than any other creature on earth and have been documented to have done this for an entire working day, without a break.

Against all efforts of the fashion industry to influence the purchase of short pants, the common Aussie garden remains the last home of the female stubbies-wearer. Although, in this photo, she is not wearing stubbies but rather a pair of shorts bought in Bali over 20 years ago which she brings out, with monotonous regularity, every time the temperature gauge reads 40 C or more. The hat is not shown here for fear of scaring her away, but it is large and brown and resembles an akubra in shape, but made of a rather rare, cotton canvas.

We are privileged indeed to have seen this animal, in all her glory, as they are becoming a rare breed, pushed to the brink of extinction by government regulations on water use and urban infill as well as the fall in the share market and the war in Iraq. When next you are out driving in the suburbs, look out for the Aussie summer gardener, working away in her front-yard full of vegetables. Once she has moved into the shade and recovered some of her grey matter she may be approached as she is, generally speaking, a friendly creature.

When they reach adulthood these strange creatures seem to attract equally rugged men and together they produce children who tend to follow in their parents' footsteps, seeking out invigorating lives in hot and often dangerous jobs such as becoming crew members of square rig ships and claiming to have totally organic bodies.

This is the first in our series on gardeners of the world. If you would like to see a recent movie on this theme watch the trailer for "Grow Your Own" which shows us a kaleidoscope of attitudes assumed by gardeners, from Britain to Africa and China.


AlexF said...

Wow, I never knew that the summer gardner was such a canny and resourceful creature. I read that bone needles were used 40,000 years ago to help the first of our species to colonise the coldest parts of the Earth, but never before have needles been set to such a shrewd application as faabrication of the stubbie shorts!

Kate said...

You are your mother's son, Alex!
ie a student of research into the history of the deep and meaningful!

Anonymous said...

The Aussie Summer Gardener is a tough one!

Very adaptable indeed.

How fortunate that you had your camera at the ready.

Look forward to seeing what else you stumble across.

Anonymous said...

That... was amazing.