which will from now on be known as bush nuts.
xmas time and family usually involves the sharing and cracking of nuts, for some reason not ever done at other times of the year. I can’t ever crack a bush nut without waking the memories that come with it. It’s never good.
My father was a musician, a teacher, a father of four little girls (who will from now be known as his audience) and a hydrographer. He also died in Papua shortly after his youngest daughter was born. I can’t fathom how that would have hurt him, losing not only the love of his life, but four more small loves that followed her. The sun may have done it, but I suspect it was just the male family curse, took them all out young. After he died we lost our name to a new father, and our memories of what that name meant.
We then became part of a family of farmers, visiting them each Xmas period with a little wonder and fear. Visiting the house where the dogs may have bitten you on the way in if they weren’t in the bitches box, and sleeping on the large dark verandahs with generations of odd storage boxes to fiddle through. One of my favourite things was to take a bucket of bush nuts down to the vice in one of the farm sheds and break the impossible shell to reveal creamy riches.
The very last time I did it I was disturbed by the vision of my very elderly and skinny granny tearing across the yard with a large gun, aimed at me. I was so scared I hadn’t head everyone else screaming ‘brown snake’ and just froze. She continued on with her mad chase across the yard, and around the shed I was in, while someone else threw me over their shoulder and rushed me back to the house. Between granny and the gun, and her husband with a big axe, the large brown was brought in pretty quickly. I admired her after that one.
But the real curse of the bush nut came a year later, when my youngest sister and I found ONE nut in the yard, it must have been left in the packing. We were about 6 and 7 years old. Our stories of this differ. Her’s begins with something like ‘she made me hold it while she brought the axe down on it….’ Seriously, I wasn’t stupid. The truth was that we dug a little hole in the ground, placed the bush nut with it’s impossible shell, while I went to find a hammer. There was an axe in the story, but I brought it down blunt side first. Sadly she stuck her hand in the way as I was about to chop, and she lost half of her finger. …
It may have been the memories of me sticking mexican jumping beans up her nose that has tainted her general opinion of me.