Pepi is the grounds keeper at Stevens Reserve in Fremantle. The reserve hosts hockey in winter, cricket in summer, and dogs with their humans in tow all year round. Many of us dog walkers are a bit scared of Pepi. Sometimes our beloved hounds dig and make a mess of the grass that he so lovingly prepares and maintains. He’s been known to encourage us to see the folly of our aberrant behaviour and that of our dogs—and rightly so. I imagine that others, like me, sometimes over-exaggerate our actions of stooping to bag our dog’s poo to make sure Pepi sees us if he happens to be watching out the window from his on-site house (Pepi is actually a very accomplished acro yogi so I think he probably spends more of his spare time engaged in much more constructive yogic practices rather than monitoring us from his perch on the hill).
This photo is an homage to Pepi, the person, and to the fact that his position as dedicated grounds keeper is allowed to exist in our increasingly myopic, economically rationalist world. When I first discovered that Pepi lived on site and cares for Stevens Reserve I felt relieved that someone is wise enough to allow an expert individual to care for a patch of precious earth, for the sake of our health, lifestyle and enjoyment. I would have assumed that all the seperate tasks of keeping the grounds would, for purely economic reasons, have been contracted out—one person might rock up to mow the lawn once a week, another to fill the pot holes, another yet to mark the lines for the hockey field in white lines and to set out the cricket boundaries with rope on a Sunday. I’m sure each individual would be expert in their own special way. But only a dedicated grounds keeper could get to know the land and take care of it, season by season, understanding over time what works and what does not. It shows that someone understands that the sum of a person’s expertise is more valuable than the whole of it’s individual tasks; that expertise and doing things right can’t be distilled to the few visible (contractable) hours it takes to do a particular task (like mow the grass), but to an overall, bigger picture full of experience, history, mistakes made and lessons learned.
The longer we are allowed to have the Pepi’s of our world inhabit their beautiful spaces, the better off we all will be.