Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Australian Farmer

Australia; a country filled with green grass and promise. Where abundant rain falls in the tropics, and occasionally in the fertile valleys and plains. When the rain stops it is as if it had never come. The rain, long passed, turns into the Dry. The Dry becomes drought and children under four do not know what rain looks like. Where the Dry kills every crop, backyard garden and bowling green, the drought kills dreams, family dynasties and livelihoods. The Dry is a schoolyard bully but long foresight, deep pockets and early preparation might allow you to minimise losses. The drought is a cruel, harsh dictator; amoral and merciless. No one escapes the drought.

The only way to remove an unrelenting drought is by flood. Not any flood, not just a flood that causes rivers to swell, dams to be filled and inland lakes to breath again. Not just a flood that brings birds a-flocking, grass a-growing and bees a-buzzing. No, it has to be a flood that wipes out any remaining stock and crop, that cuts roads for days, wrecks rail lines, cuts power and phone for weeks and takes human life. When drought takes a firm grip of the country, only a flood such as this can break it.

And one thing is certain. Every flood is followed by a drought.

So the man who decides to farm this country, whether by own choice or the decision is made for him through the charge of family loyalty, long dynasty or paternal pressure, is a man like no other man. He is a man who is able to be stoic against the elements, resolute against pest and disease, and indomitable against the markets.  He has learnt plumbing and carpentry, mechanics and fitting, fencing and irrigation, agronomy, chemistry, biology, meteorology, economics, marketing, politics and value-adding. He is able to labour from dawn to dark in the field and then expend hours at night keeping accounts balanced, records accurate and orders submitted to ensure the next season has a chance. He is able to help a neighbour in distress even when his own family is impoverished. He rallies the community and brings strength to the weak, he advises paths of action to others even if it means detriment to himself.

He is not born this way for these qualities are never birthed in a man; they can only be forged by the searing of the sun and the slicing of hail; by bumper crops in time of market downturn and drought-ravaged crops in time of high market demand; by callous demands from ruthless bankers and cold-blooded policies from uncaring governments.  He risks his finances and jeopardises his reputation for the love of his family and his land.

This is the Australian farmer.

Monday, 2 January 2017


There are times when hearing something about yourself that you already know to be true is the most unbearable intrusion into your sense of well-being. Any stability in demeanour or presence of mind can suddenly seem very fragile indeed. Maintaining a poised and gracious facade requires a well-practised dexterity that few can maintain under all circumstances.

And receiving a compliment that you know to also be untrue can also bring such a discomfort as to render the intention of the compliment void. And being on the receiving end of either compliment or censure without making a response can often feel like we have deserted our own conscience and principles.

We are a fickle folk, rendered all the more so by our refusal to admit anything to the contrary, and by our determination to prove to all and sundry that behind the strong, confident, well-balanced, accomplished facade is a strong, confident, well-balanced accomplished person.

Perhaps if we were to be a little more accurate in the portrayal of our thoughts and fears, we might give others opportunity to consider different words when they spoke to us. And perhaps there would come a greater understanding of who the real person is that we are conversing with.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Summer Week-ends

I love this time of year. Late Spring - early Summer.The weather is the catalyst, as is the pending holiday break. And although the weather can be a little unsettled this time of year, it never intrudes on events because I can enjoy a beer on the patio looking at my garden whether it's raining or not. 

My week-ends commence with a conundrum of decision. To barbecue or not barbecue? That is the question. If barbecuing, should I smoke the meat or simply throw it on the hotplate?

I love the lazy afternoons filled with cicada symphonies, far-off dog barks, a farther-off car horn, the uncomfortable caress of bottle brush against the side of the house, the wind turning ten thousand pages in the camphor laurels. 

Friends dropping in and deciding to stay longer than intended. 

I love the sizzle and snap of sausages on the hotplate, their fragrance overpowering the mock orange.

The happy sounds of children playing in water - whether in the neighbour's pool or the unexpected splash of water when a gust of wind blows the fountain spray across their path as they run around the yard.

The gentle late-afternoon breeze that brings relief from the hot day and, with it, a scent of a possible thunder storm. 

I love too the relief that comes when I realise that this down-time is enough to recover my strength and composure after a hard week, knowing I am facing another one.

Oh, yes. I love this time of year.

Thursday, 31 March 2016


While lingered yet your sweet cologne
My heart did learn it was alone
For though I had but a moment’s glance
I understood all the happenstance

There beside you in concealed wood
Lying with you where I should
He who with veiled communication
Would force me to my abdication

So when you left me with nae a sigh
I felt my heart convulse and die
That is why all folk are gawking
For I am just a dead man walking

My flesh does rot from bones now weak
I barely have the strength to speak
For you have stolen life’s last breath
And made me naught but history’s shibboleth

© Mark Chimes

Saturday, 19 March 2016

What a Waste

The Southern Cross at its zenith
The moon moving slowly across the sky
The Ox plodding across the Milky Way
Far-away stars winking, coy and shy
And you’re not here to see it
You’re not here to hear my sigh


Saturday, 5 March 2016

Be careful what you wish for

There has been a lot of comment by the media in the past few weeks around the possibility of a severe downturn in the property market. While Toowoomba is traditionally a little protected from the huge swings southern markets endure, consumer confidence is the single biggest factor in the buying and selling of a family home.

Most pundits have been indicating that any downturn would be a good thing for the majority, particularly first-home buyers, but I tend to disagree. I read an interesting article during the week about the negative effects of a market crash that succinctly articulates my opinion on this topic.

You can read the article here.

Saturday, 27 February 2016


My melancholia, whether from disposition or habit, is like any man's; unable to be vindicated by stoicism or wisdom, happiness or patience, generosity or even godliness.

Melancholy is the character of mortality. Any man who is able to avoid all melancholic feelings from his thoughts, desires, and anxieties shows proof of an inability to fully and properly comprehend life itself; for to avoid melancholy is to avoid empathy, refuse comprehension and shun participation in reality. To hold to a perpetual tenure of happiness in life is ridiculous and absurd. Even Solomon himself held that "in the midst of laughter there is sorrow". Indeed, to not know melancholy is to make oneself unable to reciprocate true feelings and affection to another.

Melancholy should not be mistaken for depression, nor should it be joined with any other thoughts or attitudes that may legitimately be considered vain, egregious or erroneous in some way. Melancholy provides a window to different perceptions. It enables a deeper understanding of distress and trouble, and once understood, opens doors to the provision of support and anchor for the one suffering.

For some, their melancholia may have derived from a period of disquiet, an issue raising apprehension or even an event that caused perturbation. It may creep in during a season of distress or during a time of upheaval. The arrival or existence of melancholy is not evidence that something has gone wrong. It is not a state that requires correction or "fixing". True, a prolonged period of melancholy may be an accurate indication that help is required, adjustment made or support given, but the same can be said for prolonged periods of celebration, extreme physical activity, and over-work.

Of itself it has the same right to exist as contentment, peace and calm. Melancholia promotes contemplation, reflection, and personal insight. Just because it may lead  to an unhealthy measure of introspection does not mean it should be avoided or eradicated. That would be like refusing to teach children how to swim because some might drown. True melancholy does not focus on the inner person. It is not a self-indulgent, introspective, ego-centric, "woe-is-me" deportment. These conditions indicate depression, not melancholia. A true melancholy state provides a time of reprieve in order to assimilate the current season and conditions and to adjust attitude, approach and response. 

There are times in my life when I deliberately seek a melancholic disposition. I am careful to keep my demeanour appropriate when I am with others, but I find the environment and culture of melancholy helpful for personal stocktaking, attitude and perception adjustment and it assists me to maintain a humble and judicious attitude towards others and life in general. Melancholia can sometimes make me pensive and sometimes this may come across as being despondent or disconsolate, but I am rarely in either of those states. 

In short, occasional melancholy makes me easier to live with and that's got to be a good thing, right?