I felt guilty for having a fifteen minute shower tonight, just standing there, letting the warm water run down my face. I needed it today. That’s how this blog came about. It reminded me of things from the country that a city girl will not understand.
1. Three minute showers
Living in a household of six people, and on tank water that had to last, meant that shower time was strictly limited. The deal was three minute showers and only once every second day. Yep, only three minutes to shave your legs, shampoo and condition your hair and wash yourself. I got it down to a fine art. Get in the shower, turn it on, wet yourself all over, turn off the tap, shampoo your hair, shave your legs, wash your body, turn the tap back on, rinse, turn off the tap, condition, wait, turn on the tap, rinse and tap off.
Why not have a bath I hear you say? Well that was a different affair. After getting out of the bath I couldn’t just pull the plug and drain the water. Oh no, there’s a process. It would mean carrying bucket loads of water outside and throwing it onto the garden. The bath isn’t sounding relaxing now, is it? I can tell you, a bath holds more water than you think.
2. Boots are for working
I grew up knowing that boots meant work, not style. Putting on my Blundstone’s (Blunnies) meant that there would be blisters on my hands by the end of the day.
3. Clothes get hung out to dry
There was no such thing as a clothes dryer. All clothes were brought straight out of the washing machine and hung on the line outside to dry. It was so important to bring them in before it rained or before nightfall to make sure they didn’t get damp. Forgetting to wash my school uniform during the week, or my favourite pair of Levi jeans before the weekend, meant they were worn dirty or not at all. If I wasn’t organised I couldn’t get them dry in time.
Just a note… microwaving school socks doesn’t work either.
4. Don’t miss the bus
The dreaded school bus. If I missed it, I was screwed. There wasn’t another bus following it ten or fifteen minutes later. It meant that I had to walk my sorry ass back down the driveway and hope my parents aren’t going to give me a lecture all the way into town about being organised and going to bed earlier.
Seems obvious now, but being shunted out of the car four of five blocks away from school just to rub salt into the wound feels like their way of teaching me a lesson.
5. If you want to be warm, collect the wood
It can be really cold in the country during winter so if I wanted to stay warm we had to collect the firewood. A day’s work meant that Dad was on the chainsaw and us kids picked up the wood and loaded the trailer. It was unloading and stacking time at the other end when we got home.
I can’t remember complaining about it. I knew how happy I would be being toasty warm from the crackling fire from within the family room.
6. Twelve kilometres to town isn’t that far
On a BMX bike. For a reason. B-O-Y-F-R-I-E-N-D. Where I lived there was no public transport. Both my parents worked full-time and I would have to find my own way into town. 12 kilometers on my BMX bike would only take an hour or so. Some of the hills were killers. Talk about being super fit. Was it worth it? I think so. Wink.
7. Chores precede everything
No television, no reading, no phone calls, no friends, no horse riding, no bike riding, no fun before the chores are done. Chores were things like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the house, cleaning the pool, hanging out clothes, bringing in clothes, mowing the lawn, feeding the chickens, feeding the cows or carrying water to the horses.
I remember my friend Allyson came to pick me up one day. She had to wait over an hour. I know she will back me up on this one. I can’t even remember the chore now, but I am sure she will. I’ll have to ask her.
8. The backyard is huge
89 acres of backyard is a lot. So much freedom and space. In my backyard was cats, dogs, chickens, cows and horses, complete with dams, green grass and trees. Perfect for taking a stroll and chilling out. It’s awesome. So peaceful.
9. Collecting food from the garden
Not only was I able to go into the garden and have a snack on green beans, I could collect tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, lemons and limes to compliment dinner. Some of the greatest memories I have are eating food from the garden. In the midst of summer, we would eat watermelon wedges, while sitting on the verandah, spitting the seeds out onto the grass. I can also remember collecting cucumbers and taking them into the kitchen to pickle with my mum.
10. Punishment was hard work
One of my greatest fears from growing up was doing something wrong and being punished. Punishment could be a number of different things. Mmmmm, let me think. The worst one was collecting horse poo from the paddock to fertilize the garden.
One time I was so naughty, probably from talking back, that I was up to 12 wheelbarrow loads. It was so overwhelming that I cried through it. I was eleven.
I enjoyed writing this piece. It makes me smile and laugh of the little things from all those years ago. Living in the country obviously made me into the person that I am today. I’m never shy of hardwork, appreciate the vastness of wide open spaces, love having animals and nature around me always, and never take for granted the bus schedule or the endless supply of water from my city shower.