Friday, June 13, 2008

Don't mind the worms

My dad, now 81 and fit as a flea apart from his deteriorating hearing, snuck into the Navy in 1944 at 17 and trundled around the Pacific and the Indian Oceans and all the northern waters in between on the corvette HMAS Warrnambool for the best part of two years before he was demobbed in 1946, after which he went home and worked the family farm for 20 years. He was raised in and with an ethos of self-sufficiency that only someone brought up on a farm during the Depression could have so thoroughly internalised as still to have it the best part of a century later.

At my request he's written up some wartime memories for me as a few guest blog posts and they'll be up soon, but in the meantime he's developing his private theory that the solution to escalating food prices is to return to the days of the WW2 'Dig for Victory' campaign, and has asked me to find him whatever I can online about it.

So I Googled 'dig for victory' and this intriguing account is the first site that came up. All I could think of was the sketch in Beyond the Fringe about the imposition of rationing (in which the 'always out in the garden' tag line is a reference to the campaign): 'My woife came oot to me in the garden, her face ashen in hue. "Charrlie," she said to me, "rationin' has been imposed, and all that that entails." "Never you mind, my dear," I said to her, "you put on the kettle, and we'll have a noice steamin' cup o' hot water."'

What made me think of this was the astonishingly therapeutic hour I've just spent out in the garden at the end of a particularly traumatic work week, digging the leaf mould into the sandy soil and wishing my mum was still alive so she could show me how to prune the lemon tree.


Anonymous said...

This is from a Melbourne group called Permablitz's newsletter :
"Have you heard of the humble soil microbe Mycobacterium vaccae? It was first found by scientists in a pile of cow dung. Perhaps they thought they were 'civilising' it, elevating it above the depravity and ignorance of its fecal home when they taught it the ways of the petri dish? But was M. vaccae fazed or enbitterered by their neo-missionary condescension? Not if it's subsequent behaviour is anything to go by. When the scientists injected it into various rodents they found it released serotonin in the brain -- the very same chemical boosted by anti-depressant pharmaceuticals. Subsequent research has shown that it gives humans a happy buzz too.

And where do you get exposure to this microbial friend, also linked to reducing asthma and skin allergies? Walk down Smith St Collingwood on a dark night and look for the jittery guy in the cap with the plastic bags of well composted soil? No. Just get out there in to the garden... "

I reckon it's spot on.

Deborah said...

The promised posts from your Dad sound fascinating. I'm looking forward to reading them.

I'm promising myself Wednesday in my garden... housework Monday, girls home from school on Tuesday because their teachers are on strike, so by Wednesday I will need the peace of the earth.

Ann O'Dyne said...

I think your Dad is correct, and have been assailing friends with my prediction that in the near future the most desired real estate will be larger acres by people wanting to plant fruits and vegetable gardens.

and that's your bloomin' lot for this week
as Peter Cundall rules.