Friday, March 24, 2006
The Green Bomb
The Green Bomb.
It happened the day after I had accidentally driven a garden fork into a council water pipe near my house. It had been a long drought. The sight of gallons of water bubbling away into the nearby drain was not good...not good at all. Worse still if the Council found out. I remember this because of what happened later...like, you know “where were you when President Kennedy was shot??” I don’t have a clue on that one actually. Come to think of it how many of us Australians know where we were the day Prime Minister Holt drowned??HM! But I digress.
They called it “The Green Bomb”. It changed Australia in the blink of an eye. “Stone the crows and starve the lizards...” from a thousand farmhouses, and some phrases not so polite. Well actually there were many more “F...me” ‘s than anything else. “What the bloody hell was that?” as people were knocked out of bed and off footpaths from the sonic “BOOOOOM” which hit the country... “must be dreamin’,“ said the Prime Minister as he watched those unfortunate enough to be taking a high level Sydney Harbour Bridge walk seem to catapult themselves all at one from the heights...a micro second before he too was slammed none too gracefully onto the lap of the Governor General in his nearby Kirribilli Garden.
The rest is history. For sure as eggs the slimy green bomb spread across Australia faster than gossip in the all men’s bar at the local pub; faster than maggots in a dead sheep’s guts on a February afternoon. It spread further than “ Super- spread Margarine...good on ya Mom! You aughta be congratulated!”
It spread exponentially like a speeded up seismic wave and only weakened when it hit the sea shore. Australia being an island...well we got the lot. Tassie missed out yet again. New Zealand just wasn’t even in the race at all as usual.
Within a week the rivers ran full and fresh. The Inland sea that wasn’t...well it was and it had, “Tourist potential” ...”What a gold mine” said the Chamber of Commerce from Broken Hill...”unless we’re dreamin’”
It only took two weeks for bright green grass to cover everything ...dying off over night and re growing the next day. Within a month rich dark brown dirt covered the land and sprouted grass, trees and plants not seen for millions of years. The country smelled of earth and damp and of green. There was an explosion of flowers and the sounds of life in every corner of the land.
Somewhere up near my place in the bush, a farmer found a massive hole blown out of the side of a mountain on his land. The seismologists traced the epicentre of the blast to under this mountain and were amazed when finally they stumbled onto the cause of the green bomb. At first they thought they were dreamin’...but as they advanced deeper into the cavern they found the massive skeleton all blown apart, of the frog. The bones ran miles long. Some of them have still not been mapped and the end to them has not been found; if this gives you an idea of the size....the frog of legend it seemed was real and they weren’t dreamin’ at all.
Local legend had it that under Australia lived a insatiably greedy green tree frog which had from time unimaginable been gorging every bit of water it could get into its great gaping mouth. Well it appears that this frog had grown over the millions of years to indescribable proportions but had reached the final limit of its expansion. His skin had stretched as far as it was possible for his skin to stretch...one final noisy gurgling gulp of water and “kowabunga!” green shit and slime everywhere. No one was quite sure where it got that last gulp of water...it hadn’t rained for donkey’s years.
But explode it did and the propelled mass of Frog innards and water rocketed up and out through every crevice and cranny. It shot out of every cave and cavern and it backed up the toilets but good...those that were still connected that is. Multi millennia of nutrients and water all released in one ghastly revolting split second.
Many lives were lost and much major disruption to train timetables and upcoming State elections..but people forget quickly ...well those who didn’t lose someone close anyway...
There were bumper harvests which almost processed themselves, putting fertiliser companies out of action within the first year. The high rise towers of commerce became unviable and dangerous due to the sheer weight of dirt and grass which covered them in a night or two...they tried to mow them which was great entertainment and I am sure that there’s a dollar in that for someone, but it was a dismal failure and they began to collapse one by one...preceded by plaintive cries from a thousand boardroom and bank chambers...”what will we do now for a dollar without farmers debt...or maybe we’re just dreamin’ hey?”
Low lying housing survived and yes there was a dollar to be made for the enterprising in mowing houses...and people began to ‘individualise the style of mowing to reflect their personality...it became a status symbol. But there was an added plus in that the houses were extra cool in summer and no one needed air conditioning any more in summer...so that balanced out the mowing costs well...also few people lived more than a ten minute walk from a fresh clean creek or wide flowing river...so swimming pools became more a nuisance value, as the grass tended to grow on their surfaces overnight, because of the stillness of the water like a type of hydroponic grass.Most filled in their pools and planted shade trees because they had so much more time to sit under them.
Along all the creeks as evening drew in there was the noisy sound of millions of green tree frogs making conversation... It was like a dream to see so many frogs after they had become such a threatened species....
...one frog lived longer than the rest. He croaked deeper and grew bigger. Slowly, slowly, slowly he grew to the size of a dinner plate...then to the size of a toilet seat... then as the decades passed he grew far too big to live in a tree....he plopped wetly down onto the rocks and sucked and slopped his ungainly way into a dark hole in the rocks...a hole that became a cave...a cave that became a cavern and as the years passed became a bloody great big hole in the ground...unseen by all...but we heard him ocasionally..rumbling about as he gulped down his litres after the rain fell.
The outcome of this, is oof concern only for whoever or whatever is living here in ten million years time...and due to the time frame it can be kind of comforting to know that our own special Freddo is there underneath our feet...all ours deep beneath the rocks, growing and growing...our own little national pet, a sort of secret pride grew in us all about our special Frog.
And a darn good thing too because it didn’t take the Yanks too long to decide that he belonged to them and they spent billions on promoting Freddo as the way to “feed the world” and what sort of an arsehole country were we anyway to stop them in their altruism? The hype that went on was pathetic...we didn’t know where Freddo was, any way but after seeing the pitiable clutch of ageing hoochie mummas and daggy bum cadaverous has-beens who were drafted to join the world in the “Freddo feeds the world” singalong we would not have handed over the frog to save any world. We all saw the massed choir which looked like the walking dead but with faces as tight as old Freddo number one must have been before he split under the pressure...it was just about the last international TV show we watched before we were cut off from the beneficence of Papa US and Mumma UK and the endless pockets of the Japanese, Chinese and Saudis...
It was like a helicopter feeding frenzy over Australia for a year or two. The Yanks wanted the frog...to feed the world so they said, the Chinese wanted his eyes to cure the fertility problems they said were endemic in China..oh sure! The Poms were there blackmailing us with how much we owed them...(as if) ...and the French were fingering the old red button, reminding us of what happened to the Rainbow Warrior, and anyway they were the Froggie experts...
Yeah! it was like the United Nations above Australia, and we didn’t rock the boat on the issue...like, what have we got? A couple of boats and planes, and well stocked bars on the bases...although all recruits had to be almost the intellectual equals of brain surgeons to be accepted into the forces at all in those days. I’d bloody drink too if I was expected to defend a country which was more worried about appearing ‘nice’ to the world than in looking after itself as any self respecting country would. No there was nothing nice about what the UN was doing over Australia...but we copped it sweet..and darn lucky we didn’t know where the Frog was or some suck-up politician trying to get the jump on the opposition bludgers would have handed our Freddo over even to the Mexicans if it meant a few hours of limelight for him...or her.
They were all pretty cheesed-off that we had got something none of them had...I mean who were we, hey? The U.N. even threatened to bomb us “back into the stone age” ...now where have I heard that phrase before?...if we didn’t co operate...oh well, from whence we came and all of that.
And all the sanctions they put on us, well they just didn’t work. We are a bloody resourceful mob when we are pressed. Like just when we were able to produce all the beef, lamb, cotton and wool we liked they refused, as a block, to buy from us. But as a consequence we all never ate so well, nor have we ever been so well dressed. Sheets and blankets were plentiful and even the homeless were well shod with leather shoes and could have had homes if they’d wanted to so plentiful were the building materials.
Then what do they do but cut us off from new computer software and innovations, and there were a few wails and moans for a time...a bit of a set back...but it didn’t take long for some bright spark from Bulladelah to remember that box of patents she had made on a new type of computer software which she had said in the past would make Microsoft redundant...she tried to sell it to the Government but they weren’t interested. But someone was because they trashed every home she ever lived in after that, looking for her inventions. Her software makes Microsoft’s bloody software look like it came out of the ark compared to Beryl from Bulladelah’s range. But in the time it took to get it up and running we’d all changed a bit back to how we were...I mean we actually started going for walks in the evenings and writing proper letters and remembering how to actually spell again without spell checkers.
It was the same with Television, although once we were weaned off a 24 hour seven days a week supply of that there was the sound of broken china and arguments as people re established a Tea-table pecking order and as basic manners were needed so that we didn’t get sick looking at each other eat, while actually facing each other...that was a bit tough in some families especially those whole groups who eat with their mouths open, making sloppy, squashy sounds. There were many families who didn’t even own a Tea Table...but due to the Japanese lack of interest in buying our wood we had whatever furniture we needed cheaply available without needing to dig into precious forest reserves...so much had we stored previously for trade.
We got our own Television system up and running again, but we were that pissed off at the rest of the world we’d lost interest in their cop shows and family sit coms...I mean look what they were doing to us the bastards.
There wasn’t really that much else they could do to us because if they really did bomb us, they risked killing the only Freddo known to be still alive...also they began to realise that if with their sophisticated equipment they all couldn’t find the frog, well then it was a fair bet we couldn’t either, because they’d been running the country really, for a long time anyway and knew its topography as well as we did. They should’ve known that they were dreamin’ to think Australia would give up its secrets to anyone.
So, they just forgot about us. Gave us the big freeze actually. That way they didn’t have to admit defeat...shameful defeat considering our small population. Its okay with us. Lifes good really. Pretty peaceful and we’re all pretty proud of our Frog even if he is down there gulping, guzzling and slurping up more than his fair share of water...we know he’ll have to give it back one day...so unless I’m dreamin’ I’m thinking that by the time he finally explodes like his progenitor, in about ten million years we’ll have all passed on well and truly...gone and forgotten which is why we didn’t know about the first Freddo till he splatted us all with such good fortune.
Oh! Sure, the original tribal Aboriginal people had a bit of a tale about a gluttonous frog, but this explosion was as much a shock to them as it was to us.
And me, I’ve given up farming, preferring now to open up my farm to the public who are more than happy to pay up so they can have a sqiuizzy at the skeletal remains of Freddo number one. And I am very careful where I stick my garden fork these days and spend a lot of time dreamin’
Therese Mackay - March 2003