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I should have thrown some dry, smoked and dirty grapes over my left shoulder.

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 30 March 2009 | Views [1998]

Mt. Bulla peeks out from behind the grapes.

Mt. Bulla peeks out from behind the grapes.

Farmers should quake whenever they see me approach their fields. I have the cursed touch of Midas' evil twin. All harvesting work I do carves through profits like a one man economic wrecking ball. I am the best thing to happen to any farms rival business. The warming climate could be to blame, but anything with the potential of taking the icy edge off a Melbourne winter is not going to have my finger pointed at it. I'd rather point it at the universe at large as it goes to great lengths to teach me that there are better ways for me to earn a living than 'slaving' away in the fields.

Not that I have done much slaving. Most of the efforts I have been paid for could hardly even be considered work. Overseeing Korean strawberry picking slaves, picking apples for a boss too kind to crack the whip, working on my tan while cleaning out tomato bins, and wandering through corn fields actually looking for something to do. It's hardly been tough, and only agoraphobics would baulk at spending as much time out in nature as what I have. But after a brief stint on my Uncles grape farm, I am forced to consider other vocations lest my luck leads to a nation wide shortage of fresh fruit and vegies.

I spent three days thinning a portion of the vines, only to see my efforts become pointless when a nearby bush fire fumigated most of the grapes. The fire wasn't as catastrophic as what others around the state had been, unless you were a tree or the neighbours letterbox, and it seems the only real damage it caused was to the one thing I was connected to; my Uncles crop. A dubious link perhaps, but after poor returns on all the aforementioned farms, the evidence is becoming overwhelming.

The sauvignon blanc had survived the hickory smoking process by a virtue I am not grape savvy enough to explain. My Uncle unknowingly thanked his unlucky stars and I was called up to finish off what the fire started. Mt. Bulla watched over us from the horizon and a clear blue sky gave the weather an inconspicuous whistle to hide its guilt. A dry summer had hampered growth, then a random downpour had postponed the picking at its ideal time and it became a race to harvest anything of value.

One full bin of grapes hit the deck outside the scope of my influence, and the dirt and shotgun pellets that accompanied the salvage effort would probably give the resulting wine an unusual earthy flavour. Time ended up getting the better of us, and work was stopped before even the vastly reduced yield could be harvested. Again I was well paid for an inspired effort that overlooked the mirror-smashing, concrete-crack-stepping, black-cat-crossing, under-ladder-walking luck that accompanies my mere presence.

And now I'm off to Broome to find work in any industry not related to farming in any way. Having never been to Western Australia before, I will stop off in Perth for three days first, but I fear my luck has come with me as I write this journal on the flight over. I packed everything I thought I would need for such a trip and stood over a half empty backpack convinced I was overlooking more than one vital possession. I filled the spaces with superfluous goods destined to be binned in disgust when I realise the importance of what should have taken their place. Dad got lost trying to find the Tiger Airways terminal hidden off to the side like a forgotten sideshow to the main event held for full paying customers. The plane was delayed by an hour, the departure gates closed every two minutes unconcerned who it crushed in its malfunctioning and the lady behind me must be mistaking my seat for a punching bag. As I will her head if she keeps using my backrest for kick boxing practice.

Not that such a thing as 'bad luck' concerns me in the slightest. I lived well enough on the money I have earned over the last two years, but the farmers still searching for answers to their miserable seasons might not be as positive about it as what I am. Admittedly my plans to take in Asia and South America this year may have to be downgraded to taking in a movie and some cask wine if I don't earn enough to bank a sufficient amount. As always, only time will tell, and I am bound to have a few interesting adventures in the process. Beware Broome resorts, pearling boats or school crossings, I am on my way.

Tags: misadventures, on the road, work

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