When I am “old and gray and full of sleep,” I will delight in telling my grandchildren and their soft toys the tale of the Great Australian Banana Famine of Oh-Eleven after a series of foreboding weather patterns in Queensland during the summer. Queensland, as well as being home to beach babes and a menagerie of other poisonous nasties is Australia’s numero uno bananero supplier; and after flash flooding and hurricanes waged war against the state in January and February destroying lives, towns and farmland; banana stocks and prices have been at all time lows and highs across the nation respectivley.
How I used to buy bananas without so much as a pennies worth of thought! Four, five, a kilo; banana smoothies, banana on museli, banana bread…my life was a veritable banana-rama until recentley! However, now? Not so. Alas, my once abundant banana oasis has become a barren-nana wasteland, and I have eaten but four in the last six months. Yesterday I bought one, purely for research puropses for $3.45. Yes, in Australia at least – the humble banana has become a symbol of wealth and decadence; the curvy, potassium enriched “yellow gold,” of our shopping trolly having skyrocketed overnight from being $2.99 a kilo to at it’s highest – $15.99 a kilo.
We have even stopped calling yellow dinghys Banana Boats over here for fear of starting riots.
Although this bananuisness seems all to pear shaped to bare, I feel a lesson can be learned that runs deeper than alternatives for potassium and lunch-box fruits. A simple lesson that you and I, sweet friend, are not so separate.
Whenever I go to the supermarket, and pause to gaze whimsically at the price of ‘nana’s, not too long after I have decided against auctioning a kidney in South East Asia to purchase a bunch – but before I move on to the plebian apples – I cannot help but lend my thoughts to the people in Queensland.
To the children who were swept away by flood waters in Towoomba. I wonder of the families in Cairns and Townsville who spent nights fearing the very air they breathed as it picked up speed and turned into a hurricane.. and once I have surveyed the East of our island… I can’t help but think Westward to Pearth affected by fires all summer, heat peeling back paint of houses and the bonnets of old cars.
To Japan… now on the back page of the news paper all of a sudden is printed on the front page of my thoughts… I wonder how they’re doing? How they’re coping?
Christchurch… God, where to start.
The Boxing Day Tsunami’s of 2005… are they okay yet?
Phuket and the Maldives… how about them? Do they sleep as softly and sound as I?
As headlines of global disasters make their way from page one of the daily papers to nestle somewhere just after the obituary’s, so do they traverse the great divide from the forefront of our minds to the back. It bothers me deeply that out of sight really is out of mind when if comes to suffering, and in a world where ever increasingly we can be self sufficient and stand on our own two feet – at times to our detriment – maybe we need little reminders, even if only the price of fruit, to remind us to lend our thoughts to our fellow folks around the world.
It is a shame to say it, but I am someone that needs to feel the affects of tragedy to give it the thought and care it deserves. Perhaps I am someone who needs a bit of banana inflation every so often to force me to think of people in a place far away; some whom I know, some who I may never meet, and think of how their life looks today. Whether they have a roof over their heads after the old one blew off the house, if they got any of their cattle back after waters broke their fences, how they’re coping approaching the birthdays of children whose lives were lost in a flood.
I don’t know how long it’ll be till my beloved bananas are cheap again, nor do I know how to fill the banana shaped hole in my fruit bowl sized heart, but I hope that when prices drop and bananas are restored to their resting place – my breakfast bowl – that I won’t forget that a whole world exists out there, and that much of it is still in need of profound care.