This week, we read the poetry of William Wordsworth. In this creative short story, I was inspired by his romantic ideals which emphasised the beauty of nature and the exaltation of the working class. The story is modern Australian romanticism which recounts a personal experience where the beauty of nature and the triumph of physical labour flourished.
The first rays of sunlight filtered through paddocks and hills. Dewey gum trees sagged and swayed as the sparkling light danced across shivering leaves. Walking over unstable ground, my graceless steps roused the attention of the herd. The beasts clustered together as they followed me tentatively at a distance, their movements generating a low rumbling. The whines and heavy breathing exhaled a hot mist into the cold morning air and they matched my walking pace with curiosity. At then end of the paddock, I had to jump the gate, which was no small feat as it stood in such weathered condition. Many splinters had been sacrificed to this leap, and in my failed agility I questioned whether or not it could continue to support my weight. Unbalanced with one a leg over the fence and both hands gripping on unstable steel, I looked back at my silent companions. One stood forward from the crowd, closer than I had expected. Staring into thoughtful eyes, I paused for a moment, challenging her to take action in my moment of instability. In her great benevolence, she simply snorted and turned away, the herd following her gesture. I swivelled back around unsteady and found my father’s arm held out to offer me safety. ‘Be careful’ he mumbled, and with his support, I jumped the fence as nimble as a kelpie.
We followed the edge of the gully down to our work, the beauty of the morning asked for a quiet reverence and that’s what we gave it. “Rock picking” is what dad called it, a little romantic title for hours of back breaking labour. We pulled rocks from the earth barehanded, turning over spiders, grubs and damp black soil. Although the tips of our fingers turned cold and numb we never stopped, our methodical work became calming and pure. Even through exhaustion and pain, my father persisted, the intensity of his resolve proven through raw strength and determination. I watched in awe as he lifted great monstrous sized boulders up onto his chest and threw them into the front-end loader of the tractor.
Finally, when it was full, we drove it down to the edge of the land, bordered by a softly bubbling creek. Our neighbour’s embankment had been swept away by heavy rains, and there they stood eagerly awaiting our arrival. Many hands helped to shift the rocks over the water, and with the final load set down, their rusted range rover had access again. With two toots of the horn in thanks, we watched as the old machine bounced down the road kicking dirt into the golden sun. ‘Lets go get some breaky’ smiled dad.