Thursday, December 01, 2011

Les Bottersnikes

vine wiresThe bonfires around the farm burnt down over night to a scattered collection of tangled vine wires.

The one remaining ex-vineyard still had to shuffle off its tightly wound coils and the front-loader with its busy pilot was not long in starting a few more incendies. The one shown below looks like a rather devilish beast with fiery innards bellowing smoke over the fields.

horned beast

Bottersnikes & Gumbles (my copy)I’m reminded also of the lazy, angry, rubbish-tip inhabiting Bottersnikes from the four Australian children’s books written by S.A. Wakefield with extremely evocative images of these bushland grumps and their targets, the friendly, giggling Gumbles done by Desmond Digby. The tips of the Bottersnike ears burn red with anger. They continually strive to enslave the Gumbles and lock them away in jam-jars. German editions of the book refer to them as die Butterschnuckels. Sadly I can’t locate any French editions for comparison.

While looking for Bottersnike images I found some new renderings by Brisbane-based Lachlan who rightly describes them as designs “for the great Australian animated film that's yet to be made”. Some earlier renderings here.

Bottersnike, original rendering by Desmond DigbyBottersnike & Gumbles by lachlan

There’s a beautiful book about these and other Australian illustrated children’s books called Bottersnikes and Other Lost Things by Juliet O’Conor. One day I might do a post on favourites from my own collection. I remember finding a copy of Blinky Bill or a similar book influenced by Australia’s unique fauna in a Seattle used book store. The store owner looked up and said “that is my favourite book in the entire store”.

I started off this post as I did the last to draw a link between our bonfires and the lighting of the beacons in The Lord of the Rings, and also with the Napoleonic semaphore system which has criss-crossed France since the late 1700s. Once again the mind wanders off into new territory.

While the last bonfires blazed away, holes were excavated next to the earlier ones. While some of the vine-wire is retrieved for scrap, most of the remains are buried in place.

pyre hole (1)  pyre hole (2)

It was interesting to get a bunch of snapshots of soil profiles around the farm. Nearly a metre down soil gives way to the clay I’d find if I dug around a bit more in the adjacent pond.

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