Today in Melbourne it is kinda cold and drizzly, and I'm sticking to my challenge of not drinking for the month of January. So today I'm finding myself even more out of step with our national holiday than usual.
For those of you not attuned to Antipodean goings-on, today is Australia Day. This is an occasion usually marked with standard ocker practices like drinking beer, hitting the beach, frying in the sun, being enthusiastic about cricket/tennis/whatever, and barbecuing some stuff while listening to the wireless (radio, that is).
It's also slightly troublesome because it celebrates the day white people landed on the continent, which, for our country's Indigenous people, doesn't mark the happy anniversary of our country's foundation, but is actually the starting point of decades of genocide, racism, dislocation, and attacks on their ancient and enduring civilisation.
As a beneficiary of our country's sad history -- i.e., if not for white settlement in Australia, I'd probably be anywhere in Scotland, Ireland or Germany -- I'm in two minds about this day. I'd like to celebrate this incredible land that we are so, so lucky to live on, but perhaps not today. Not if demonstrating our love for this country comes at the expense of respect for the traditional inhabitants, who themselves understand and love her much more than we ever could, and who today have every right to mourn.
So, today I'm going to stay inside and draw some more, I'll think about all the things I love -- from gum blossoms to weird birds, wide skies to wild oceans, horse dust to Akubras, VB tins to seventies-era Holdens -- and remember at just what cost I get to love those things.