I’d like to show you my vegetable garden, but we’ll need a boat.
What’s more, we’ll need plenty of fuel. The garden is easy enough: it’s just the other side of the garage (or it was last night, anyway); but the veggies will be tricky. We might find the pumpkins on the other side of the road, but the lighter stuff, silver beet for instance, will be somewhere between here and Maggie Island by now.
If they picked up a favourable current, there’s every chance my lettuces are being eaten in Lima as I write.
That’s Lima, Peru.
Hands up if you think we Mustn’t Complain About the Rain Because We Needed It â€¦
Ah â€¦ I thought not.
I used to write proudly to friends in England about the Queensland climate. “You should see my pumpkins,” I’d say. “They make English pumpkins look like tennis balls. You can grow anything here! Even the concrete posts take root.”
I should have added that you can grow anything so long as it floats â€“ and you can swim.
I’m almost envious of the people in Normanton. I read in Thursday’s Bulletin that they were having their food shipped in while mine was floating out. The SES even thought of toilet paper (which proves there are women in the SES crews. â€“ only a woman would have thought of that).
My wife did. “If the road’s not passable soon we’re going to run out of toilet paper,” she said.
But if the bloody rain doesn’t stop washing my vegetables to Bombay we won’t need toilet paper because we’ll starve to death.
And if someone tells me this is climate change at work I shall ram a carrot up their bottom. Or I will when I find one. Out Normanton way they’re saying this is the worst flooding in 10 years, but no one blamed climate change 10 years ago. They just emptied their gumboots and got on with it, much as they’re doing now.
I have a sneaky feeling that those of us who live in our comfortable cities, with supermarkets just up the road, and hospitals that have five storeys and where the lights are always on, have very little idea of what it’s like to be flooded out (or in, depending on your point of view) â€¦
Thirty centimetres of silt in the lounge room, the contents of the septic tank floating through the kitchen, dead cattle floating past the window. The nagging fears every time one of the family goes out to check the dam, or the road, or the creek.
I’ve lived in a unit in Townsville and stood watching rain so solid it blocked the view of the house next door. It was interesting; almost fun. And if I was really, really desperate I could have run the 50 metres to the shops for a toilet roll, or a carrot.
City dwellers don’t know the half of it. Somehow there’s a feeling that monsoonal floods Ñ floods that kill people and bring disease and misery Ñ are a problem faced in other countries, where taxis have bicycle wheels and there are beggars on every street corner. We don’t have those problems in civilised countries like ours.
But we do. Or to be more precise, some of us do. We have those problems and we deal with them, and we make jokes about the toilet rolls.
And then there’s me. Wailing at the window as my carefully tended topsoil slides down the garden, into the road, and along to the creek.
It was all organic, too. If you happen to hook a tomato as it floats past, it’ll be very good for you.
But I’d wash it well first, or you might be needing some of Normanton’s toilet paper.