By Lucy Ziesemer
I’m writing this on Sunday night feeling oddly optimistic.
I know all the ‘be your best self’ gurus would advocate we use the weekend to fill our hypothetical cups instead of draining the more hold-in-your-hand variety, but I’m a realist and know most of you aren’t opposed to the celebratory clink of champagne glasses and beer bottle necks. In my experience and much to my continued dismay (insert eye roll here), Sunday nights are usually wrought with the ick, where the thought of Monday morning sans friends, fun and folklore far from blows your hair back. No matter how much you love your day job, the weekend exists for a reason. Now I’m no TED talk fiend, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised it’s possible and actually quite an organic process to fill both one’s life cup and their beverage cup simultaneously. It’s all down to the people you share “here’s cheers” with, and with my marriage to a Western Man only a couple of months away, I’m now unwrapping deeper layers of what it is to be a woman on the land thanks to snippets of insight shared over beverages of all kinds (Bushells tea, Pimms, a good old fashioned red- you name it) by women who really know the drill.
I’ve always been quite independent and sure of my abilities and direction. Living in the bush, you learn to handle certain things yourself rather than wait days, weeks, maybe even months for perpetually “flat out” professionals to sort it for you. I specify ‘certain things’ because I would rather dig a 4 foot deep long drop in the paddock than go to the toilet with a frog in the bowl. It’s called being resourceful. But as I discovered this weekend, independence is only sustainable with a support network of likeminded individuals lingering in far flung fringes out of sight but certainly not out of mind.
On Saturday, I was introduced to a group of women, some who travelled 700 odd kilometres, to celebrate and welcome me to the “wild western women’s club.” Without exaggeration, I was starstruck. These ladies offered me pearls of wisdom money couldn’t buy about what it takes to stay married to a Western Man. More than “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach...” who knew?!
(N.b- I’ve learned that ‘Western Man’ is actually a proper noun and widely used by long married women residing in rural and remote areas of Queensland, hence the capitalisation.)
While the effort the ladies went to to be there did not escape me, it was clear they truly wouldn’t have been anywhere else. And the big resounding lightbulb moment from all of this, was that women on the land are a force to be reckoned with. In my young life I’ve experienced one significant drought. In theirs they’d endured dozens. They’d surmounted isolation, hardship, and no doubt numerous uphill battles and revelled in joyous victories, small wins and happy days in equal measure. Garth Brooks (up there with Shania Twain in my books) sings a song he dubbed “The River.” It describes life for the ebb and flow that it is, be it rapids roaring and dragging with an invisible undercurrent daring you to lose your balance, or a gentle ripple where a leaf could fall and float undisturbed, peaceful. The western women reminded me that we are unique, multipurpose vessels of strength, hope, humour, love, determination, passion and power. They reinforced the importance of connection in order to combat the oxymoronic feeling of being smothered by so much space. They encouraged things I already knew, like not losing sight of what’s important and using nature as a source of energy- a practice I try to employ daily.
Western Women, and yes they can be a proper noun too, are a breed of their own. Not better than Eastern Women, but maybe different in minuscule ways the naked eye or otherwise concerned wouldn’t recognise. The best metaphor I can conjure is that Western Women are chameleons, equally comfortable serving party pies at tuck shop, on their annual salt and sand craving pilgrimage to the coast, or branding calves and changing the oil in crusty rust bucket Toyotas at home.
I feel honoured to be inducted into the club- it’s a cool one. Honoured and grateful, to the strong woman who raised me, the strong women who’ve featured in my life thus far, and the strong women I now call friends into the future. How lucky we are to live where we live and do what we do- a distant, out of touch dream for so many.
~ So here I am, happy on a Monday morning!