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 however it reminded me of things from the country that city girls will not understand.
1. Three minute showers
Living in a household of six people on tank water meant that shower time was strictly limited. The deal was three minute showers every second day. Yep, only three minutes to wash, shave your legs, wash and condition your hair.
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. It meant carrying bucket loads of water outside and throwing it onto the garden.
2. Boots are for working
I grew up knowing that boots meant work, not style. Putting on my boots meant that there was work to be done and I would have 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 disorganised 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 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. Twelve kilometers on my BMX bike would 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 weekend 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 came to pick me up one day to hang out. She had to wait over an hour.
8. The backyard is huge
89 acres of backyard is a lot. So much freedom and space. My backyard was filled with cats, dogs, chickens, cows, horses, dams, green grass and trees. Perfect for taking a stroll and chilling out. It is 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 complement 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 however it was generally hard labour. The worst punishment was collecting horse manure from the paddock to fertilize the garden. One time I was so naughty, probably from talking back, that I was up to twelve wheelbarrow loads. It was so overwhelming that I cried through it. I was eleven.
Standing in the shower I am smiling from the years gone by. Living in the country made me into the person that I am today. I am never shy of hardwork. I appreciate the vastness of wide open spaces. I love having animals and nature around me. And now from the city, never do I take for granted the bus schedule or the endless supply of water from my shower.