Wednesday, May 10, 2017
First off, we did not have internet where we just stayed, so I was not able to post until now. The flight from Cairns to Melbourne was uneventful, with the exception of the crying baby across from Jim and the whining, obnoxious toddler in the row ahead of me. Thank goodness for iTunes and noise-canceling headphones. Jim and Curtis Sinatra were waiting in the baggage claim area, and Jim S. exclaimed, " They look just the same!" It was very nice of him to say so, even though we know that is not the case.
Being with them it is as if 30 plus years had not passed since we last saw each other. They left Ames with their two boys in 1981 to move to Melbourne, where Jim S. started the landscape architecture program at the University of Melbourne. They have lived in Australia since then, mostly in the Melbourne area though they did spend one year in Perth. Currently they live in Trentham, a small village a little over an hour outside of Melbourne.
Before we arrived at their house, they took us to a local pub called The Pig and Whistle. What character the place has! An added bonus was that ten or so local musicians had gathered to jam. Instruments included a violin, tin whistles, guitar, banjo, and a mandolin. They were playing a lively Irish tune, the last song of the day as it turns out. There is a strong Irish community here as potatoes grow well here. That sounds very cliche, but it is a fact.
Jim and I actually stayed two doors down from the Sinatra's at the home of friends who were in Melbourne right now. An architect by trade, the homeowner designed this house, and it it beautiful.
The houses on their street back up to a nature reserve, so kangaroos run free in the back. In fact, on the drive to the house, we had to stop to let a kangaroo cross the road. How cool is that?
After we put our luggage in the house, we went to the Sinatra's house for a delicious dinner that Curtis had prepared for us. We had salad, a stew and bread. We spent a lot of time talking and catching up.
Monday was a day of learning about Australian life and making new friends. We first stopped at a nearby farm and met a couple whose hobbies include bonsai plants and raising chooks (chickens). After enjoying a delightful tea, including homemade savory scones and date cake, we went out to meet the chooks. There were so many different breeds, each one pretty in its own way. The setting of the farm was just as beautiful.
From there we went to the home of two local artists, one a sculpture primarily working in stone, and the other a painter and author. Their work is amazing! We had lunch there, and the hours passed quickly.
We had to get back to the house as more friends were coming over, but Jim took us down a road to find some kangaroos. And find them we did - a whole mob of them. I just can't wrap my head around the fact that they wander free here just like the deer back home. It was a treat to see so many.
The last couple we met was a man who is a wood carver who makes fine crafted furniture. His friend is a nurse who is visiting from America as well. We enjoyed some nice wine and conversation. The whole day gave us a peek into this small community that is jam-packed with intelligent, creative souls.