Sunday, 29 January 2012

Take Me To The Farm

My uncle's farm is one of the most absurdly relaxing places I know of.

Any time spent there seems to somehow double and slow down.

You don't feel guilty about taking it easy the way you might if you were in your own home surrounded by projects and tasks you know you should be getting to.

And yet you always seem to get something done whether it's cooking, reading, walking, general arty craftiness, conversations you've been meaning to have, drawing...

In autumn we get together to gather chestnuts and bring cheese, meats, marinated vegetables, fresh breads, tarts, pastas, bakes, sweet biscuits, hot drinks, cool drinks and other assorted items to share in a huge communal meal along with freshly roasted chestnuts.

In winter it is what particularly sheltered Australians consider freezing and it is so satisfying to sit around in front of the wood fire with a drink and a book looking out at the winter world.

This Australia Day long weekend* we wandered up again and apart from the usual blur of delicious local foods, cool afternoons underneath the trees by the house, and spirited debates**, I achieved a very specific victory.

Well, two victories really.

First of all, I finally began to learn how to crochet!

My aunt who is a complete art and craft genius talked me through the basic stitches and I have put together a moderately respectable practise square that looks like I know what I'm doing.

The second victory is by far the sweeter.

I was listening to Re: Your Brains by Jonathan Coulton and once my uncle worked out that it was a song about zombies he started rolling his eyes and he and my Dad started going on about 'you and your obsession with zombies'.
It petered out fairly quickly as I make no apologies for my interest in zombies and we had other things to debate that night but my moment of triumph was yet to come.

The next day I was sitting at the picnic table underneath the apple tree finishing off knitting The World's Widest scarf and listening to the audiobook recording of World War Z.
My mother and my aunt had joined me and we were all sitting there knitting and/or crocheting and listening to Henry Rollins, Alan Alda and others recount their experiences during the zombie wars.

Then my father and my uncle came over and, obeying our family's tendency to listen to absolutely anything going, they sat down and tuned in.

Apart from the odd question about the nature of the virus that was supposed to have spawned the zombie plague and the logistics of infection, they didn't speak.

At the end, after watching them listen to almost the entirety of World War Z, I sat back and waited for their reaction.

Instead of a resumption of 'pfffffffffffffft zombies' I got:

Dad: I've got the solution. Before you send your troops into battle, take all their teeth out, so if they turn, they won't be able bite anyone else!

Uncle: Nobody is going to sign up for that. Gummy veterans. All you need is porous muzzles with slash-proof straps and locks that are zombie-proof. Then they'll be neutralised if they are turned but get to keep their teeth if they aren't.

They spent the next two hours discussing light-weight battle armour options, protection plans for civilians, tactics for dispatching large amounts of zombies with low numbers of human casualties, some of the logistics involved in learning to produce adequate food with lower technology for a population that can't move outside a safe zone, where the biggest sociological and topographical problems would be in Australia that would hamper our efforts to push back the zombie menace and survive as a nation, and whether Grandma would retain enough sentience to hunt us down and gnaw our bits off if nobody went to save her before we retreated to a family stronghold***.

Game. Set. Match. Bitches.

It's taken me years to snare them but of all my family members these two are the ones you want to have planning for your survival.
They're both intelligent, thorough, with sprawling and unnatural memories and interests in just about everything.
They have the kinds of minds that look at the obvious and see the supporting factors that most will forget, and which automatically consider things which you may never have even thought about even when faced with the hardships that the absence of these things may present.

I may not be able to actually coax them into developing an official Zombie Survival Plan and distributing it at Christmas but now that I know the cogs are turning, I feel a lot more confident about my chances of survival should the time come.

Because let's face it, initial survival is one thing but long-term survival is another and initial survival can be a difficult thing to achieve when you're stretching yourself thin trying to gather in a family as large as mine with minimal losses.

*Well, we made it a long weekend by taking the Friday off. What's the point of working Friday after having a public holiday on Thursday?

**What other people may call 'a group of nutters barking at each other'.

***The conclusion was yes, yes she would. So we've assigned the closest family member Grandma rescuing duties in the event of a zombie uprising.

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