Crayfish (not really a crayfish)

It’s Tuesday, September 18, 12.15pm as I begin writing this post. I was just down at the Crema hole-in-the-wall coffee shop opposite Machattie Park when I saw someone who looked a little like BMcT from behind. But that couldn’t be her: legs too thin. No, it was indeed her. BMcT is a local ecologist, a member of Greening Bathurst. As I waited for my coffee to be made she said she was sick of it, over it. I said I was too. She gets work doing this or that environmental consultancy but they’re all just depressing projects in thoroughly degraded landscapes. She was standing by a creek when a man approach her to ask if she was all right and she bit his head off. Then she wondered what had come over her. She realised she was sick of it, could not take doing this any more. She thought about being an activist. She could try to save sharks in Western Australia, something else in the Northern Territory – I forget what now – Stop Adani in Queensland …

“Mt Canobolas”, I added. They want to put over 60 kilometres of mountain bike trails through the State Conservation Area of Mt Canobolas. I’ve been making little campaign videos about it.

I, too, am thoroughly sick of it.

I have run out of some essential bit of steam.

I want to detail the car. After Bertie the black Labrador died, I left it a few weeks then cleaned out the car. The car was infused with Bertie’s hair, saliva, snot, smell. The car smelt badly of Dog. We didn’t notice it because we were used to it. But other people getting into the car could really smell it. And I could smell it if I’d been away for a week & then got in the car. I cleaned the inside a bit and bought new sheepskin seat covers and put them on. I washed the outside. The clear coat, aka Duco, was a complete mess. I started watching YouTube clips on how to look after your clear coat. I invented a process by which I used wax crayons in green and black to trace around the edges of the lifted bits of duco, where dust was gathering. The wax would protect it, stop things from getting worse. Maybe.

I found it so relaxing to detail the car. I realised it was a small job, a little more interesting than ordinary housework, and something that had nothing to do with the world at large. I was deeply sick of the world at large.

I feel like the Jewish villager who returned after traveling through Europe, saying that Jews were being thrown into mass graves, and everyone thought he was mad and went on with what they were doing. I feel my fellow human beings are willingly and wantonly destroying the planet, and with it the underpinnings of our own societies, such as they wretchedly and unfairly are. And yet when I try to say this I feel that the world is looking at me as though I’m mad, I’m the one with the problem. Part of my problem is my insistence on staying inside the main game. Writing the BCCAN column in the Advocate week in week out. Trying to be folksy, reasonable, talking from inside the mainstream paradigm. Not working. But then, nothing’s working.

So people start to drift off. SN, the BCCAN Secretary, is drifting off to study permaculture. Trying to talk to people directly about climate change is a mug’s game.

I paused in my writing of this piece to answer an email with a researcher from Sydney Uni who is holding interviews with people in Bathurst & the central west about community renewable energy initiatives. I’m going to meet her next Thursday. This is something I’m really sick of. Fuck working on renewable energy projects in one’s own time. Fuck off with that. As we get bogged down in government grants and governance, the state government goes on mining coal. Well, fuck off. I’m quite looking forward to saying this to the researcher. “Community renewable energy initiatives” sounds great but it distracts us all with busy work while they go on mining coal.

At the BCCAN AGM next month, I’ll be standing aside as president, although I’ve said I’m happy to stay on the committee. But I’ve come to a standstill. I’m not even sure about the committee. I might brighten up. Today I’d rather detail the car, or plant tomatoes. I’m not happy with anything. Nothing’s innocent, nothing’s untainted, non-vexed. Everywhere you look there’s something to be worried about. This can’t last. Nothing we’re doing is sustainable.

Steve plonks the Lonely Planet guide to India on the table. It’s a beautiful thing. I have always wanted to see India. I think of the Coleman Barks/Rumi poem: As elephants remember India. For some reason I find that line so moving. But it’s carbon all the way. And when we get there, we’re monstrously rich people and everyone wants our money. It’s weird to go around the world as a monstrously rich person. I hate it. I hate feeling guilty, trying to manage people, trying to be nice. So even a holiday feels stressful. Being in India is not about elephants or memory; it’s about dealing with tourism in late capitalism. It’s about being a consumer.

I keep returning to fantasies about living out my days in Carnarvon, in a caravan park somewhere. I’d have a tin boat and potter around the mangroves. I brighten as I type this.

I’m knitting a crayfish, the thing we used to call a crayfish when we lived there in the 1970s, but which I now discover is a rock lobster and not a crayfish at all. I’m knitting the western rock lobster, the Panulirus Cygnus. I’ve been using four double pointed needles. I’ve used a pattern for a lobster, but as the western rock lobster doesn’t have pincers, I’m leaving those off. So it’s just a body with long antennae and a lot of legs and doesn’t really, at the moment, look like western rock lobster at all. I’m hoping some sewn-on embellishments (eyes, and some way of creating the look of forward-facing spines) will give it some verisimilitude.

It’s for the installation in the Carnarvon library that features marine creatures knitted by the local craft group with a model of the jetty created by the blokes at the Men’s Shed. I saw the pic on Facebook and immediately wanted to contribute. By the time mine arrives in Carnarvon the display is likely to have packed up and gone. But hopefully my western rock lobster can be thrown in the bag with the other woolly marine animals. I want to do it. I want to be part of it, even if the ladies in the craft group think I’m a weirdo.

Because I am, of course, a weirdo.

I’m tired of being a weirdo. It works for me but only up to a point. I’m tired, so tired, of swimming against the stream. (Maybe I should be knitting a spawning salmon.)

***

Okay, just remembered my conversation with AB yesterday afternoon, over tea and craft on the deck near her back door. She was embroidering the word “Let” on a patch that will eventually quote Bob Katter on letting one hundred flowers bloom, but he’s not going to spend much time on it because every three weeks someone is ripped to pieces by a crocodile. I was working on the knitted icords that will become the legs of my western rock lobster. I told AB about my ideas for partly crocheting my PhD thesis. I’m thinking about wool going in a long line, a trail, entrails (just thought of that now) between the Macquarie River and my house. And maybe a bit in Carnarvon (the Gascoyne River delta going out to the Indian Ocean) and the Brisbane River (going out into Moreton Bay/the Pacific). But maybe just the Macquarie and my house is enough, more than enough. I could have the full length of intestine. How long is the adult small intestine? Large intestine? Then there’s the square metres of mucosa, very large. Anyway, something to think about. Maybe small organs strung through the landscape between home and river, straight up William Street, across the middle of Centennial Park. I’d get a little team of people to help install. And then if people pinch the bits, well and good.

 

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