I reckon the movie character Forrest Gump (as played by the actor Tom Hanks) gave running a bad rap. Whatever! I took up running as a sport well before that 1994 movie anyway, and this was a lucky turn of events for me because I was unceremoniously transferred to a school which demanded not only regular homework, but also compulsory sports from all of its students. Running was one of those compulsory sports.
In Australia, school years for children range from: Preparatory; then Primary School (years one through six); and then Secondary or High School (years seven through twelve).
For my first few blissful years of secondary school in years seven and eight, I attended what I feel must have been the most hippy dippy school in the entire state. During those two years, I learned a great many things, some of which even applied to the curriculum that other children in the state were learning. As one example, I knew who the most frightening character “Jason” was, in the horror film Friday the Thirteenth. On the other hand my grasps of the complexities of geometry and trigonometry was perhaps a bit sketchy. As an interesting side note, that hippy dippy school has long since been converted into a swanky housing estate.
It is also probably a fair thing to say that during those carefree hippy dippy days I was perhaps not the best behaved student. A report card from that time would have remarked that Chris was easily distracted and could do better. And this was where my blissful carefree life became unstuck. I am now much older and perhaps marginally wiser. Long term readers will recall that I have previously waxed lyrical about Sun Tzu’s most excellent treatise on military strategy “The Art of War”. It was unfortunate for me that I had not read this treatise at an earlier age…
So it was that I found myself one fateful day towards the end of my time at that hippy dippy school, understanding the truism as declared by that genius of military strategy, Sun Tzu: never to underestimate your opponents. You see, I was attending a parent / teacher night with my mother, who conferred with the enemy (a teacher), who remarked to my mother that: Chris was a good student who was also a bit unruly but would benefit from a more disciplined and rigid school environment. I knew defeat when my mother gave me a searching look as I could almost see the unspoken plans formulating in her mind.
The following year (year nine), my mother transferred me to a more disciplined and rigid school environment. The new school had formal suits and ties, school rules, no girls, cadets, lots of homework, formal exams, after school and weekend sports, and only one new kid that year. I have always felt that the school was more English than even the English are. It even had a historic oak tree surrounded by paving that looked suspiciously to me like a Union Jack design! My carefree days had clearly finished with a resounding thud.
Nowadays, people ask me what do I believe is meant by the term “community”? Well, I reckon the word “community” means learning to live with the people that you find around you. And way back in those days at that more disciplined and rigid school environment, this simply meant that I had to learn how to live with all of people that I suddenly found around me. Niccolò Machiavelli, who it is fair to say knew something about politics and human social interactions, would have been outclassed by the sheer intrigue and social dynamics that I found myself unceremoniously dumped into.
By the time that I turned up in year nine, the majority of social cliques were already established. I lacked the social skills of Niccolò Machiavelli and the wisdom of Sun Tzu and was unable to break into the existing social cliques. Well that is with the exception of the dork group, who took me into their social clique. This was a good thing because as Niccolò Machiavelli would have understood it is better to be surrounded by friends and allies than to be a lone target.
I slowly understood the social machinations of that more disciplined and rigid school environment and learned how to keep out of trouble. Actually by that, I meant mostly out of trouble, because after school detention seemed remarkably easy to end up in. The fun thing about after school detention was that you were encouraged to write quickly, and this was an important skill to learn. You see, the quicker that you wrote out a copy of the school rules (and there seemed to be an awful lot of rules) the quicker you got out of after school detention.
One aspect of the social machinations that troubled me the most were the informal after school fights. The way the informal fights worked were that children of higher social cliques (and as a dork I wasn’t quite at the bottom of the social pecking order, but I could certainly see the bottom very clearly) chose two other children to fight at a specific place and time. Heaven help the feckless child who failed to attend an informal fight because their lives would be made a misery from that point onwards.
Having previously lived a blissful carefree hippy dippy existence, I had never been involved in a fight of any sorts, let alone thrown a punch or two in anger. However, once I was aware of this impending doom of the informal after school fight, I immediately enrolled at the local karate dojo (using much of my hard earned paper round money) and trained several nights per week. Fortunately, my turn for an after school fight took quite a while to arrive, and when the bell tolled for me, I destroyed the other kid (although not hurting him too seriously). After that I was never bothered again and enjoyed improved social status.
My improved social status at the more disciplined and rigid school environment meant that I was able to relax a bit and enjoy secondary school and maybe I even learned a thing or two. Unfortunately, I still didn’t know anything about geometry and trigonometry, but in other subject areas I managed to slowly claw my way back into the top quartile of results for students. The lesson that I took away from all of that experience is to: Know thy enemy so that you do not underestimate them. Sun Tzu would approve.
The secondary school had a running team which competed against other schools in the state. I enjoyed distance running for sport and the school gave me no choice whatsoever in whether I wanted to compete in a sport or not, so I joined the running team. To be continued…
The weather this week has provided some delightful contrasts and this photo highlights those contrasts very clearly:
|Contrasts have been a feature of this week’s weather|
|The overnight temperatures have been quite cool this week|
|The three round raised garden beds used for growing potatoes were relocated this week|
As potatoes are required in the kitchen, we have been simply extracting them from the soil. Home grown potatoes have a superb taste! Eventually we expect that all of the soil from the remaining potato mounds (visible in the above photo) will be removed. We also are intending to relocate some of the potato tubers and have plans to increase the diversity by purchasing a new batch of diverse seed potatoes.
|A sample of some recent potatoes harvested from the remaining potato mounds|
|The relocated steel round raised garden beds were placed on the new dedicated potato terrace and surrounded by crushed rock with lime to provide an all-weather surface|
On warm nights, the existing garden beds produce a symphony of frog calls from the many Southern Brown Tree Frogs who live in the garden beds.
|A cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch was placed onto the sloping garden beds|
|Pickets are being produced in order to extend the fencing on tomato / eggplant / capsicum (pepper) enclosure|
|I spotted four red lettuces and a rhubarb plant just growing randomly about the place. They will be relocated to a garden bed|
|One of the many rhubarb plants on the farm|
|Mandarins are being harvested here this year for the first time. And they’re excellent tasting!|
|The view from the fish and chip shop looking across the harbour to the mountain range which rises up behind the township is just superb|
|A blue salvia shows off in the garden beds|
|The purple salvia’s were not to be outdone though|
|There were a couple of unexpected cornflowers growing in a sheltered spot|
|I am not sure whether this is a purple cornflower, so if anyone can identify the plant I’d be grateful|