Stoic in the face of sum­mer stress

Clutha Leader - - MEANWHILE, OUTSIDE AUCKLAND - RACHAEL KELLY

When I look back a few years, liv­ing in the city was pretty stress­ful.

The traf­fic jams on the way to work. One I was in­volved in re­sulted in an eight-car pile up as ev­ery­one perved at the bikini-clad chicks on the side of the road in a ra­dio sta­tion pro­mo­tion.

Try­ing to find a park, fail­ing, and re­sort­ing to hir­ing one so I could get to work on time, only to find some­one else parked in it at least once a week.

Some­one stole my beloved Toy­ota Corolla from out­side my house and burnt it out, and I came home from a hol­i­day once to find some­one had bro­ken in and trashed the place. I was rather af­fronted to find they had ri­fled through my knick­ers’ draw but hadn’t taken any. I know they weren’t the flash­est things out, but what was wrong with them?

Since mov­ing to the coun­try, things have been stress­ful on oc­ca­sion too. Tack­ling the drive to work in snow or frost can be chal­leng­ing at times, as can mak­ing sure you have wa­ter in the tanks and fire­wood in the shed.

My house burnt down rather ran­domly while I was away one week­end, leav­ing me with just the bag of clothes I had with me.

If you’ve al­ways thought buy­ing a whole new wardrobe would be a dream come true, be­lieve me it’s not if you’re start­ing from scratch and keep think­ing about all the stuff you’ve lost.

What was sur­pris­ing was how my new com­mu­nity ral­lied around to help. Kids at the lo­cal school wrote let­ters, peo­ple dropped off food and fur­ni­ture and ev­ery­thing you could think of to make the go­ing a bit eas­ier, for which I’ll for­ever be grate­ful.

Now they’ll step up again to help their farm­ing neigh­bours through a drought, which is about the most stress­ful thing a ru­ral com­mu­nity can live through.

Floods re­cede and life re­turns close to nor­mal once the river drops, but droughts can last months. This unini­ti­ated for­mer townie is learn­ing now that the hot weather might make it easy to find that an­noy­ing leak in your wa­ter scheme, but watch­ing your profit go down the drive­way in a truck be­cause you’ve had to de­stock isn’t pretty. Com­ing back up the drive­way might be an­other truck car­ry­ing baleage, which like ev­ery­thing costs more than it should when you need it most.

Ever heard of the Ar­gen­tine Stem Weevil? Po­rina? Did you know sheep can get pleurisy? Me ei­ther, but they’re just some of the con­se­quences of the Big Dry.

Prob­a­bly the best word to de­scribe farm­ers in my neck of the woods at the mo­ment is stoic. They’ve got one eye per­ma­nently on the heav­ens and the other on the fore­cast. Most have been here be­fore, but few are ad­mit­ting this is the worst they’ve seen it.

They’re still out there ev­ery day in 30+ de­grees, will­ing their winter crops to grow and keep their stock hy­drated.

That’s some­thing they’re strug­gling with them­selves - the swim­ming hole’s get­ting shal­lower by the day and the lo­cal pub is strug­gling to keep the beer cold.

Farm­ers have one eye per­ma­nently on the heav­ens and the other on the fore­cast.

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