Almost 60 years old, Maureen Barry reminisces about her life, especially the last 35 years, of living on the land with the man she loves. She recounts youthful dreams as a young rural bride and the often harsh realities of farm life in the sometimes unforgiving landscape of the Mallee. This story is dedicated to her husband, Brian.
Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
I was having a whale of a time nursing in the city when you swept into Melbourne in search of a wife. I saw a magnificent, muscled Mallee man. You say you found me withering on the vine and decided to rescue me. The truth is you were big, bold and beautiful and I was totally blown away. The engagement ring brought notions of fluffy white lamb’s, candlelit dinners, angelic babies, small boys taking violin lessons, little girls making daisy chains, exotic holidays. 35 years later, these are the enduring images I am left with. Waiting, willing, watching the weather, low lamb prices, waning wheat markets, the feel and smell of moist worked soil, grain filled trucks on the way to the silo. Ah, another years expenses paid. Fatherly fingers, tying little girl’s pigtails, wiping faces, attending to hurts. Manly tears as you shot and buried your thin dead sheep. The chuckling of children, usually up to mischief, chasing chooks, maniacal motor bike riding, acrobats, accidents. Children asleep, fire glowing, everyone home, safe, right. Every night enfolded in strong arms, your steady heartbeat under my ear. I learnt to love our land, which like you is big, bold, sensitive, productive and forgiving when treated kindly. 35 years later our boys still haven’t had those violin lessons, but we’ve had the fluffy lambs and the, sort of, candlelit dinners, we’ve even had the exotic holidays. So now it’s time to get on with the next 35…with you.