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The Grinding Stone

by Sam Page (follow)
Home (11)      Culture (10)      Farming (2)      Indigenous (1)      Artifact (1)      Agriculture (1)      Noongar (1)     

Land and culture an account from the kitchen bench.

Twenty years ago when I first moved to Western Australia and married a farmer, I didn't realise that I had also married a farm and my mother in law's kitchen. Tom's parents had moved to the city a few years before, and what they didn't want or need they left behind.

An egg flip that was so thin, "you could almost read the newspaper through it" and a metal teapot, tiny and bent were family treasures, according to my husband. Many women new to farming find that there is little room for them, and that making changes can cause offence. The trouble was I really wanted to 'nest' and find a home for myself too. It was not until we moved farm that I found I could make my own home.

In all fairness to my husband, I am not one to throw things out anyway. Like a patchwork quilt, family detritus holds memory, and objects can be reinvented. Not a domestic goddess by any account, my herd of neglected teapots were up-ended and placed on tomatoes stakes in the garden to make an interesting sculpture. From my studio window I can see towering Redgums. They howl in high winds and make me tremble at the through of fire during summer.

The land that we farm on holds memory. Our farm is unusual in our area. There is a lot of remnant vegetation on it and evidence of previous lives appear under shifting sands, revealed in long dry summers. I have found broken settler crockery, a candle stick holder, a china doll, curtain weights and enamel pots. These objects, are found in paddocks and creek lines, on the ground, although they are not of the ground, they are not indigenous. Artifacts from an agricultural tradition to which I am part of, have origins somewhere else.

Once a grinding stone was found along a creek line. It belonged to The Noongar people, indigenous Australians who are traditional custodians of lands in the south west. The grinding stone, sits on my kitchen window sill. It suggests the preparation of food, and daily life in a Noongar group that must have either lived on the land before it was farmed, or moved through it. It also reminds me of our own impermanence, and the shared history of the land, that shapes and sustains us.


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