A red lace bra is about as far away from the country as you can get: the epitome of decoration, of display, of boudoir. When your focus is on the things that need to be done outside yourself – like this year’s harvest, planting seeds, or nurturing livestock – a red bra seems irrelevant by comparison. It’s certainly not the first thing you reach for when you get up in the morning. However, after a recent trip to Sydney, I’ve changed my mind. At least, ‘Pamela’ changed it for me. Usually I visit the 7th floor lingerie department at David Jones, and, while glancing at the flimsier things in my peripheral vision, leave with the usual bundle of comfortable, cotton Bonds in sensible shades of beige. This time I met my match: a woman of a certain age and build who convinced me not only to check my bra size, but also to try on a bra more suited to Rihanna than life in rural Karoola. The décor seemed all chandeliers and mirrors as I tried on Pamela’s choice of the “Selma Dancing” bra in ‘Hortensia’, a sort of pomegranate red. And here’s the thing. A bra has never fitted me better: more like a swimsuit with lift than underwear. It came home with me wrapped in tissue paper but has since dug up a vegetable patch, taken down a paling fence, and cleared the boundary of blackberries. No one would ever have guessed that I was not dancing but gardening with Selma. That’s her, hanging with the cherry blossoms at the Nuns’ House.
There are certain days in a country year that deserve celebration. These days are not quite the same as birthdays but the sense of joy can feel the same. Like when the swallows return from their winter migration north, and when the flowers of the sweet pea seeds you planted on St Patrick’s Day start emerging from bright green cocoons exactly six months later. Or when, in these parts at least, the tomato seedlings get planted out – never before Launceston Show Day when frosts no longer threaten. Shearing day is an especially happy time-marker. Jack and Kerouac, my paddock companions, wear winter on their backs until the shearer comes. Their puffa jacket fleece quadruples their size until Ian drops by with his mobile shears, trouser braces, and brevity of wit, proclaiming, “Yes, they’re ready!” We have corralled the two alpaca in a corner of their paddock with just one rope. Jack sees him approaching and slumps to his haunches in knowing submission because by now he judges that all the airs and prancing that Kerouac effects is just dumb bravery. The shearer always comes. They will get laid on their backs, legs tied to a rack so they lay still, and that fleece will furl back in ethereal strands more like a cloud close up than thick creamy dollops of wool. Jack will stay silent and Kerouac will scream, kick and froth at the mouth and be placated by Ian in his weird alpaca language until I approach with old sacks and stuff them with a year’s worth of seasons waiting to be spun.
Published in Country Style, November 2013