American folk mythology has the American dream.
Australian folk mythology has the little Aussie battler. The person who just can't get a break. Bad luck follows them like a bad smell. They work hard day in and day out and someone else gets the prize.
The early settlers? They slaved away clearing land to start farms and then suffered through drought and locust plague and fire and then more drought.
The ANZAC soldiers? They went to help the Brits, got royally messed around and died by the hundred unnecessarily on the beaches and in the trenches.
The blue collar labourer? Works hard day in day out for the man, wages get cut, the union is useless and then his factory shuts down and the jobs go to China.
The overriding theme in all these hardluck stories is that despite all the hardships the little Aussie battler keeps on trucking. Nose to the grindstone and just never give up.
Well, every morning I am reminded of this folklore when I walk out the gate and see my snowgum. It was a gift from my grandma in the form of a packet of seeds. A little bit of Australia up here in Nagano. Well we have had nothing but failures trying to grow our snowgums. The first batch of seeds never even germinated. A little research (a call to grandma) and we tried again by first placing a sheet of paper over the seed tray and setting it alight to create the same conditions as a bushfire. (Some Australian plants only seed after a bushfire. How's that for being a battler?)
Then we lost them all the first winter and started again in the Spring. Last Autumn they were a metre high. Spindly but a metre high. I was convinced I should start worrying about branches dropping on the cars or the postman rather than wintering them but no.
Come Spring they were brown dead sticks.
I was really disappointed.
But then a couple of weeks ago I noticed something:
Those little round leaves? My snowgum! Sprouting from the base. So far only one but I am not giving up hope.
That's an Aussie snowgum after all.
A real little Aussie battler.