Another Country Diary gumboots
Another Country Diary


Links to images and other pages are in blue, mouse-over pop-up comments when I have them are burgundy.
Week of 16 September to 22 September '02
Tallegio cheeseGratification. A piece of tallegio cheese, left out of the fridge overnight (when there's no daughters  around to say 'what stinks' ) eaten with a Silo sourdough stirato bread stick. Toss in a bottle of  Sauvignon Blanc and the afternoon stops still while you think about things.

There's a line in the cover notes on a Leo Kotke album where he describes his voice as sounding like 'a goose fart on a muggy day'. Tallegio smells a bit like that. The cheese book says that 'the aroma is gentle, but insistent, redolent of almonds and sweet hay'. Those are lover's words, sexual. Smelling and tasting a ripe piece of tallegio has something to do with arousal, and being abstemious in those things we try not to overdo the pleasure. In a world where new tastes seem unlimited, we always find a weekend when we've settled on one of two favourite imported soft cheeses, Pont L'Evêque or Tallegio. 

Tallegio is a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)  cheese from Lombardy. It's made from cows milk and is just one of the cheeses called 'Stracchino', that are soft and square shaped coming only from that region. Tallegio gets its rosy crust from a relatively short maturation, still done in part in natural caves that spread the moulds and ferments that give it a unique taste. The Italians grill and melt it over bread or polenta and it becomes very strong in flavour when heated. We've used some leftover pieces that have dried a bit, on a four cheeses pizza and it's always the star.

I asked neighbour Fleur about this local girl in her wheelchair, and she told me who she was and and about her illness. I used to see her drive past during the day from my workroom window. This weekend I had the camera near me. She travels fast, the dog trots to keep up, and she smokes cigarettes as she drives. She's constantly puffing, almost desperately, as if it's forbidden at home and she only has the freedom during this short journey to the shops. 

 

Elmslea survey pegI looked back at the growing Elmslea Estate (the contentious 'Bungendore North') from the train last week, and decided I should get up early to photograph it in the morning light. It's just new roads and drains being made at the moment, and when the houses are being built it will be more dramatic. I've put together a popup window of some views of the development. (4 jpegs 350 pixels wide, total 160k)

While the estate could be a new suburb anywhere and doesn't have any sense of being in a country town, there must be some 'country' people living in these houses. Bungendore has more than it's share of hand painted 'owner builder' signs out in front of blocks, pointing to a culture that's encouraging, even if the buildings constructed behind them are standard and boring. (There was one mudbrick home in the middle of the estate, but it was still trying very hard to fit in with its neighbours).

Last week I gave a young guy a lift from the edge of Queanbeyan coming home from work. The ground was wet from rain and another storm was due. He was going to Bungendore and had missed the evening train, so he had started walking. He took off his oilskin jacket as he got in, and wound down the window, obviously hotter in the car than I was but we chatted about Bungendore. He said his family had been living on a farm 20k out of Braidwood and they were finding it a bit hard getting used to the life 'in town'. 

He said his neighbours had complained about the rooster he kept with his hens in the yard, and how he had to get rid of him. I told him of our many losing attempts to keep hens from foxes and dogs but he said the wooden fence around his place seems to keep them out, although the domestic cats prowling around put the birds off laying. I asked how many he had and he said six pair. That's a lot for a suburban yard I said, and he laughed and said no that's just the pheasants, he had ten chooks as well. 

As I approached town I asked him where he lived, and said I'd drop him home. Jan and Kate were impatiently waiting for me to go to the Chinese restaurant at the pub for dinner but I figured I'd be neighbourly. When I let him out at his house I realised why his neighbours might have been concerned about the rooster because he lived right in the middle of Elmslea Estate. It was one of the straight suburban sized blocks with just the regular timber fence between the other houses. I drove off thinking about what his small back yard must be like, and liked the idea of a dozen pheasants and as many hens in the centre of those dull houses. Go country!
 

22 September '02

It was a line overheard at the Bungendore tip. A young couple in a tray back one tonner, with two big feed sacks in the back. The husband had blonde wispy hair, balding. He got out of the car and said, as much in my direction as to his wife, 'I'll just do a bit of shopping ' and walked off towards the fresh heaps. She was pretty, slim, with a round face and she climbed onto the tray back and emptied the bags of garbage.

There was a lot of 'shopping' going on today at the tip. It must have been the weather for it. I had to make two trailer load trips with all the big branches that had been sitting there waiting for the car to be repaired. These were the ones I couldn't chip. It was busy, and hard to get near to the edge of the heap between the people putting stuff into their trailers and utes. There's an embarrassment factor at the tip face that makes people avert their eyes or become garrulous trying to justify the scavenging. 

On the second trip I saw this awkward man tying a wheelbarrow with bent legs to the top of a new small car, one of the Suzuki's or Honda's, some tiny city car. As I was unloading, he came up to the two women beside me and gushed 'thanks again for the wheelbarrow and my mother uses them for planters and they're good even with holes and you just put a piece of fly-wire in the bottom and they're good for planting things that you don't have to dig like potatoes and you don't need to bend down if you're old as my mother is and you don't get many wheelbarrows at the tip although I've found quite a few over the years'. The women were keen to get away.

That's another observation I've made around town. That there are a lot of gay female couples who are obviously running small farms together. I helped a heavy set, big breasted and bra-less woman (okay, I notice these things) load fence posts onto her F100 ute at the rural supplies one day, and she mentioned how her partner wasn't much help with the fencing. I've been in the feed store when couples come in to get hay, and together they help the young guys offload the forklift. It's very different to the farmer's wives you meet. Maybe it's a function of Canberra's public service gay tolerance and local acceptance. It feels ok to me.

We bought our house from a gay professional couple who left to run a farm in northern NSW. Both had high level government jobs, one in an environmental area and the other in anthropology. They had laid out the garden and planted things that we've been discovering since, and only now we are getting some order into what was an immaculate layout with permaculture plantings, many now long gone. 

 
Fred Harden  
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