The things that slip away

A confusing ménage of slang and reminiscence.

Image Marina Marr. This image is from the UK, but I’m guessing it works similarly. Notice how the land side of the willow is ‘trimmed’ level but the water side isn’t. The tree further back is wholly land-bound, and thus neater.

As a child I used to think that willows were such tidy trees. They grew ‘trimmed’. That is, their fronds always reached a certain level and then stopped growing, as if they’d had a haircut. As I got older I realised that yes, well, they were actually trimmed. Cattle loved willow trees, and if you had cows in the same paddock as a willow tree, the cows would munch on the tree, chomping up as far as they could reach. Hence the neat line.

I’m no spring chicken, as my mother used to say. How old? Let’s just say so old that I saw Abba live at Ripponlea, and the pirate king’s purple pants first time around (as well as the second). Confused? I’m being deliberately so. 😊

I grew up on a farm. Not a farming family but surrounded by farmland. We lived in the old farmhouse, leased out when the farmer built a new one. We loved it. We had our home, our half-acre of vegetables, and we had the creek.

The farm was on the river flats, and we lived near a creek. Back in those days the creek didn’t run dry. In winter, it flooded—the farmer had a boat with an outboard motor, and they’d use that during the floods to get to the cattle. In summer we swam. At our own water hole, or as we got older we were allowed to take an old tyre and float down to Willow Bend, the popular swimming place a couple of kilometres down the road where all the young kids went. Of course, we had to walk home afterwards, but that was never a problem for us. I don’t know what happened to the tyres. I think we must have rolled them home with us.

Distance was never a problem. Sherylyn’s best friend, for example, lived twelve kilometres away. She, or her friend, would always be at each other’s places. They rode their bikes.

Willow Bend was so named because of the willow trees. They were everywhere and because it was a public area, rather than farmland, it was also the first place I saw willows that grew down to the ground.  Willows grew all along the creek, too, and even out into the paddocks.

There are no willows there now. There’s no creek. It’s too dry for them. The times, as a great singer once said, are a’changing. I’m glad I had the pleasure of enjoying the willows along the creek.

4 replies on “The things that slip away”

Thanks for sharing that poignant memory, Karen. While the willows no longer exist there, you’ve brought them to life in a different way.

Sometimes I’m surprised how much change we all end up living through. Yet it’s so gradual most times we don’t notice it, until we reminisce like this.

Changes that make the world a better place… I grew up in a small city that had a highly polluted river running through it. The color of the water was the color of the paper being dyed upstream in paper mills. Sometimes the river was even blue–a mucky, muddy blue, but… as oppoed to red, orange, mucky yellow, its. These days the water quality is high, as opposed to the open sewer grade it had back then. The paper mills are all gone, and the city that they were in, has been economically crashed for decades–all the industry left, including General Electric, which just split into three companies, the paper mills, the textile companies, the tool and die shops which supports other businesses… the economic health of that city was not good when I was a child, then it went to one of the worst in the entire state from there… and people I knew moved there because the housing was what people whose incomes had crashed and then gotten worse, could afford.

But the river water is clean now, and people can enjoy it, as opposed to literally holding their noses if near it because of the stench. Alas that the paper mill owners were not proactive about recycling water for cooling, instead of using the river to take in relatively clean water, and output both the heat and effluvia from the plants… when they finally did start recycling the water for cooling, they discovered that it save them money! –but the US tax law disincentivize conservation, capital expenditure laws as opposed to expensing, use decades for “depreciation.”

The last time I was paying attention, Intel completely IGNORED capital expenditure traditional economics-which tax laws for gaming the system destroyed the US big steel industry, which was reluctant to write off equipment and facilities which were essentially obsolete but which still had a decade plus of depreciation to use as tax writeoffs… so instead Japan and Europe invested in the new more efficient higher quality output and fastre, processes and equipment, and were making better steel at lower production costs than US Steel and Bethlehem Steel, etc., and guess where all the customers went?!

Intel ignored the depreciation, because in the semiconductor business, last’s year’s plant is probably obsolete or the production line needs to be refurbished anyway because the production processes wear out the equipment… and failing to go forward, means that the competitors who do, will take over your business…

Sadly, that resistance to change is similar here in Australia, with people fighting to retain their livelihoods in industries that destroy the environment while the company doing the destruction works on their short-term goals and in doing so becomes obsolete. Once the industry goes, and the environment improves, many towns morph into tourist towns, relying on the changed environment to draw in visitors. Which is great, until something like Covid comes along, and cuts the tourists dramatically.

This short-sighted behaviour isn’t specific to industries, of course. I work in IT, and it’s rife there. Just kind of more noticeable to the general public when there’s something dirty or smelly to see for it.

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