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Byron Shire
December 2, 2023

S Sorrensen’s Here & Now: Meat and melancholy

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My place. Sunday, 5.15pm 

Image S Sorrensen

The nutritious detritus from the last barby, a few days ago, is creating a tantalising smell as the barby heats up. The scent drifts past my nose and out into the valley.

I breathe it in. Ah.

I’m not the only one who can smell it. Two of the local kookaburra lads are sitting in the native frangipani that grows not far from the deck. From there, the duo can keep an eye on things.

I sip a glass of Ginger Necktar. With ice. And a splash of tonic water. And (just a bit of) vodka.

Sunset yellow is melting over the trees like Nimbin cheese over broccoli. Music from Neil Pike’s new album spills from the turntable:

All aboard, the captain said
If you don’t know where you’re going to
You’ll soon enough be led.

An awful but wonderful feeling fills me right now. Today, I realise what that feeling is.
I throw a lamb chop on the grill. I feel a bit guilty about that. The pain of the butchered animal, the environmental damage…

From the first day that we’re born
We’re all waiting to be dead

Oh well.

I throw on some sliced zucchini as well. This is quite the barby party. I’ve set the deck table with knife and fork, salt and tomato sauce. It’s a party for one.

So just enjoy what’s in between

I am prone to melancholy. I don’t get really depressed. I just sometimes get this feeling (like now, as the sun kisses the western range, as the bellbirds tinkle their death toll, as the barby smell reaches two kookaburra noses.) It is a sadness. But a warm sadness.

After years of experiencing this melancholy and thinking it was less than normal – that something was wrong with me – I finally recognise what this melancholy is: It is love. It is awful and wonderful love.
The awful bit comes from the relationships where love blossomed like lantana after rain, but then didn’t fit the space we created for it.

I’m sorry.

The awful bit comes from the insensitive pillaging of the planet. The pollution. The extinctions. The climate change. I just don’t understand…

The awful bit comes from having children and seeing the utter contempt for them – for all children and their futures – displayed by a marketplace masquerading as a society. It makes me angry. I have to do something.

And you tell me I’m too negative, you say it’s all quite fine
Doing nothing’s better than wasting time

I flip the chop. There are grill marks on it. Perfect. After flipping the zucchini slices (also grill marked), I lay on some Nimbin cheese slivers and sprinkle with chilli salt. And a pinch of peppers. I also throw sliced red capsicum onto the grill, for colour.

But hope is still a virtue at the end of the line
Or else it’s all just whispers in the dark
Just listen to your heart

The wonderful bit, I realise, is understanding that only lovers suffer.

I tong the chop, the zucchinis and the capsicum onto my plate and set it on the table. The sun winks at me as it slips behind a waving branch.
Only lovers suffer because only lovers live. You see, love is what being alive feels like. It’s happy and sad, good and bad. It’s this feeling I have.

I turn, and turn off the barby. Then turn back to my meal.
Oh dear. It looks like I have company. Party for two.
‘Okay,’ I say to the kookaburra. ‘You like zucchini?’

You and I are just the moments that we all share
The love that lies between us and the sorrow we all bear.

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  1. What a beauty SS. ‘The love that lies between us and the sorrow we all bear.’
    Delicate and yet so true. I wrote these few lines not all that long ago…


    If I’d never loved you, then life
    could not ever mean more
    than a wisdom estranged.

  2. The World Health Organisation has labelled processed meat as a carcinogen on the same level as asbestos. Read “Meatonomics” by David Simon, a lawyer and author. The livestock and dairy industry are the great destroyers and polluters of our planet. A dreadful source of suffering and disease for trillions of animals and humans every year, throughout the world. How can you enjoy the smell of burning flesh–a lamb who wanted to live?

  3. Dear me. An uncalled for reply. There’s all sorts of polluters.
    A green tea and a good lie down – better than a verbal attack.


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