The Bittersweet Escape

Ever had a gut feeling that you shouldn’t do something, but did it anyway?

I’m blaming it on cabin fever, because the forecast really wasn’t any good for a day trip.

It was Sunday morning, and I was doing my little “need to get me outta this joint” routine, so before long, Ms and I were sailing away to greener pastures…

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Meet Noojee. An Aboriginal word that means ‘place of rest’ or ‘contentment’.

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Just say it. Noo-jee.

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Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

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The stares we got when we reached our destination were less than warm and fuzzy, just like the bartender’s polite suggestion that we dine down at the bistro.

But I wasn’t in the mood for subtle messages that day, so I put my cider down and prepared to soak up the atmosphere.

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The table next to us was having a conversation.

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“Saw these poofters down the street the other day. They were all over each other – holdin’ hands an’ everythin’!!”

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“For real?! Aw, I wouldn’t come here if I were them…”

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It slowly dawned on me that the bartender’s gentle suggestion was probably for our own protection…

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Too late. Our meals arrived.

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The place is noted for its Chicken Parma’s (Aussie speak for chicken schnitzel with tomato sauce and cheese, usually served with chips, vegies and beer).

The food really was as good as all the hype. Even the Veggie Parma was delicious.

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We rolled out of there a few hours later, perfectly contented in the belly, and took a look around the sights.

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By the end of the day, we could hear the wind between our ears and agreed that we got just what we came for.

Driving back, I had zoned out to a bit of Aussie trance music

…when I spotted a policeman pointing from the window of his parked car.

“Was he pointing at us?” I wondered, barely registering that the 2.5 buildings we just drove past were probably meant to be a town.

Sure enough, the lights came flashing behind us. I pulled over and was informed I’d been driving 79 km/h in a 60 zone.

“There goes my overtime,” says Ms.

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All $289 worth of it.

We re-traced our steps through the ‘drop-in-the-dirt town’, as Ms likes to call them. Found the 100m stretch of 60 zone I’d overlooked. And drove on home, subdued.

I learned many things that day. Well, a few.

  • Don’t listen to trance music on a Sunday drive in the country.
  • Do listen to the forecast your gut instinct.
  • The price of contentment is, sometimes, staying home where you belong.

When was the last time you ignored your gut instinct? Was there a lesson to be learned?

Campfire Magic

Some of you will know already that last weekend I took a little day trip to a regional park, known as the You Yangs.

In case you’re wondering, it is a name derived from a local Aboriginal word that means ‘big mountain in the middle of a plain’.

I’d promised to take some friends and have a meal over a fire back in May.  But then the weather turned bad, life happened, and before I knew it September had arrived.

To be honest, the work involved in preparing campfire food and packing up the car seemed less than appealing at first.  But we all chipped in, and on Saturday morning four of us hit the road.

The minute the fire was lit, the weight of the week lifted off…

The feeling stayed with me, and infused my on-line interactions.

Someone who I think of as my cyber Mum saw animal shapes in the fire and made me laugh.

One of my fire buddies reminisced about the yum and I was hungry all over again.

And then I was reminded of an email dialogue that started with a new on-line friend who goes by the name Campfireshadows.

It made me wonder – what is it about campfire that captures our imagination?

In the documentary, Becoming Human (Part 2), I was fascinated by the suggestion that fire was responsible for the social evolution of humans.  At least, it makes sense to me that waiting for food to cook by the fire might lead to social interaction, the development of intimate bonds and (quite possibly) of language itself.

So perhaps there’s science to the magic of food, fires and storytelling?

In a globally fragmented world, these moments of community are rare.  It makes me wish I could invite you all around my fire, for a yarn and some good ol’ Aussie tucker.  And some wine.

Instead, I open up Twitter, and find these two messages side-by-side:

And that’s when I remember the power of blogs, and Facebook and Twitter.

Sure, it doesn’t always have the same romantic glow.  I might have even been a skeptic once.

But that was before I made the effort to pack my baggage up and really Go There.

Now when I log in, more often than not, I find myself smiling and laughing and even shedding a tear as I’m invited into the intimacy of other’s private worlds.

We may not be able to gather around a real-life fire.  But we’re lighting up each other’s worlds all the same.

I don’t know about you, but I find that magical.

The Master Painter’s Canvas

A few weeks back I was introduced to the poetry of Vincent Edward Manda.  I’ve really enjoyed conversing with him and reading his poems, and was particularly inspired by his work The Painter of the World.

This post is in appreciation of his verse, and the question posed within.  It goes along the lines of, if the world were a painting, doesn’t the art say something of the Master Painter, too?

I’m not much of an artist, but I know enough to know that ‘perfection’ is a blend of darks and lights…

Others also ponder on this theme.  Whether it is the thoughtful philosophy of Global Unison, or the gorgeous travel log In Search of Perfect – there seems to be consensus that perfection and imperfection are closely intertwined.

So, inspired by these three, I thought it was time to take you to another holiday destination, this time New Zealand’s south island.

I was very lucky to visit before the recent earthquakes.   It was my first and (so far) only overseas trip.  I really did believe the ads that promised ‘100% Pure’….

The oil painting that is the Akaroa habour

Fiery remnants of a newly formed earth (Barry’s Bay near Akaroa)

Christchurch to Greymouth by Overlander rail

Beautifully manicured Lavendyl Lavendar Farm near Kaikoura

Chilled out seal colonies (Kaikoura)

Marine sanctuaries for the planet’s rarest dolphin (Akaroa)

Lyttelton historic town and habour

 

New Zealand is such a land of contrast; of exquisite highs and devastating lows.  It hardly seems fair that since this trip, Lyttelton found itself the epicentre of the 2011 earthquake, while Akaroa was all but left untouched.

Here in Melbourne, this is worth a pause.  We recently felt the tremors of a 5.3 magnitude quake.  Except for a few Twitter updates, most of us barely noticed…

I love the line from Sonny, in the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:

“Everything will be all right in the end.  So if it’s not all right, then it is not yet the end.”

So, too, with Lyttelton.  In the wake of the trauma, the historic town boasts a renewed sense of community, focused on creating a sustainable future.

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad there’s still room on the Master Painter’s canvas…

An Island in a Sea of Words

After five weeks of blogging, I have a guilty confession to make.  I love when I find a blog where stories are told in pictures.  No words necessary.

When I stumbled upon Gabbies Island, the whole idea tickled me.  An Island, in a sea of words, and in the midst of it, Wordless Wednesday, where a photo says it all.   Thanks, Gabbie (some pretty cute pics there, too) :)

This is not to diminish all the faithful writers out there.  It’s just that – sometimes, we need to take a breath.

So, this week, I thought I would take you for a visit to my own special Isle of Quiet.

This was a couple of years ago, when I went with my folks on a ten day trip to the East Coast of Tasmania.

Approaching Port Arthur Peninsula.

 A place of grim convict stories…

Little House on the Prairie.

I mean – literally.  This is Dad – watching the DVD on my laptop!

Approaching Coles Bay.

No words necessary…

Some local wildlife…

(no family resemblance whatsoever)

A place to find the Quiet.

Where do you go to find the Quiet?  Is it a special place, or something more abstract?  Please share with us :)