Thirty years ago it was avocadoes,
now olives are the new industry.
The model is the Benedictine monastery
in New Norcia, northwest of here. It was built
on Spanish vocation and Aboriginal labour,
a fusion of spirits and seasons, conflation
of traditions with the Church the owner.
Here, it’s secular, though growers
are seen across the churches,
from old Anglican to old Catholic,
and the new Protestant temples. Followers
of other religions worship at home
or elsewhere, their olives going into the pressing
with their neighbours’. Here, a Frenchman
defines the aesthetics: it’s about quality,
quality, quality, it’s about a knowledge
of food. People here need to know about this!
It’s the age of olives, lavender, and alpacas,
and the sheep move further out from the towns,
paddocks stay green with foliage year-round,
an evergreen industry that harvests
when wheat farmers pray it will pour
down, celebrating saturation with beers.
Wine and olives make the sky less primary.
There are hues: autumn is impressionistic.
Arse-up, says the old guy who witnessed
the last mallee fowl in the area defending
its mound, the clearing right up to the edge
of Mount Hardy. Rough-edged sons
still laugh at “extra virgin,” and hack up
the firebreaks in their utes. The Frenchman
and his followers imagine Provence, and profits
and raising their glasses to the sun, taste-testing
a new arcadia, parrots somersaulting overhead;
the boys dream of sump oil suffocating the roots.