December 27, 2008
The year is slipping to a close. Back in Canada, the first coast-to-coast white Christmas in 37 years still blankets the country. Here in Brunswick, north of Melbourne’s CBD (central business district), we’ve been house sitting a small flat since December 5th. Part of the deal is looking after a Max, a sweet silk terrier who’s eleven years old and about as easy a canine companion as it’s possible to find. In exchange for two walks a day and frequent snuggles, he gives us unconditional love.
Too much has happened in the two weeks since I started drafting an update for me to bore you with the details. Robin’s still not back to 100% energy, though is close enough that today he’s playing eighteen holes of golf with his son. I’ve come down with a nasty cold, my second in Australia, and am slowly getting over it. We’ve had wonderful outings with friends, mostly people Robin has met on his tours but also an interesting couple we met on the cruise. We’ve explored more neighbourhoods of this cosmopolitan urban centre and seen some of the outlying areas. We’ve wandered around the CERES (Community Environmental Research and Education Society) farm and bought organic produce there.
Our Christmas dinner was worthy of the front cover of the finest cooking magazine, thanks to the considerable efforts of two gourmet chefs, Natalie and Darren Jarman (Robin’s son and daughter-in-law). The photo here doesn’t show the full story, but you get the idea. Good food in good company – can there be a better way to celebrate the holiday?
One-year-old Lily’s family and friends have taken bets (no prize except satisfaction) on when she’ll walk unaided. All of us with a pre-New Year’s date jumped the gun. She’s confident pushing around something with wheels, like this trolley in our Brunswick flat, but she’s not yet ready to walk on her own. When she is, watch out world.
Our latest peregrinations took us out to Belgrave, where some day we’ll board the Puffing Billy for a steam train ride further up the valley. We’d met a New Zealander on the train out. He spent five years in British Columbia, one of them in Fort St. John, the others in Vancouver. Now he lives in Melbourne but is planning to build a house out in Warburton. He made it sound appealing so after we’d visited Belgrave, we took the train back to Lilydale and then transferred to a bus that took us up the Yarra Valley to Warburton.
The rolling hills of the Yarra Valley narrow, and the road becomes squeezed between high hills by the time the bus reaches Warburton. While we were wandering around what is clearly a favoured destination for city escapees, I heard my first kookaburra. I’d seen one back in November, but he wasn’t doing any laughing. When this one began a series of sharp chortles, followed by a ringing laugh, there was no mistaking what bird was calling.
Max is sleeping beside me as I type. His golden coat is shining and soft, thanks to his good natured but reluctant acceptance of a bath.
Are we closer to deciding whether Australia shall become our new home? Some days…some days not. I’m no fan of icy driving or icy sidewalks but love the beauty of fresh snow. I’m no fan of high heat, but Melbourne is mostly temperate. We are delighted to be close to Darren and Michelle and their families but miss our friends back home. We’re on a roller coaster with no certain destination.