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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 11 (February 1, 1938)

Back to Nature

Back to Nature.

He introduced you to the delights of sleeping in a caravan with your feet protruding through the door and the primus stove in the small of your back. He taught you how to strain billy tea through your teeth, what to do when a cow leans against the tent in the stilly watches, how to lose the lilting laugh when you discover that practically all the food is permanently imprisoned because you forgot the tin-opener.

He instructed you in the art of living so close to nature that yards of it dropped into the tea, seeped into the sandwiches and stuck in your hair.

He taught you the freemasonry of the camp where no neighbour minds if you step back into his breakfast or literally drop in to lunch.

January educated you in the ethics of elementary endeavour. He stripped you of the pomps and vanities and vapid vestments of cuticular culture. He encouraged you to wear shorts that were too short and whiskers that were too long.
“Literally drop in to lunch.”

“Literally drop in to lunch.”

With one flourish he peeled you of the panoply of gentility and put you where you belong.

He shoved you into trains which were going somewhere, anywhere—what did you care? He inspired you with the desire to know your fellow man so that you broke bread and swapped fags and philosophies with perfect strangers in the propitious propinquity of your railway carriage. At January's behest you went a'wooing of nature. You hit the high-spots of humanity and equanimity. You went down to the sea in ships and out on the spree in slips. You took things as they came and if they didn't come you went after them.

And you still have most of the skin off your nose, a face like one of those pink pumpkins which never look quite sober, and lumps on your legs where the mosquitos put the nips in; you have returned reluctantly to the roost and January has retired into some hibernatory hermitage to sleep it off until the gong goes for the next round.

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“Inured to the glorious vicissitudes of the wide open spaces.”

“Inured to the glorious vicissitudes of the wide open spaces.”