|Road to Varykino|
For quite a while I carried on correspondence with two friends I’d never met, and then in April Helen and I spent a week together in Arizona, two booksellers on winter vacation, and had a delightful time. I’ve been corresponding with Kathy for a year and a half, and we have yet to meet, but she lives on the other side of the world, literally. She and her husband, Grahame, make their home in New South Wales, Australia, and the photo on top of this post shows the road to their country B&B, Varykino. Kathy and I share love of animals, of books, of movies, and so we always have much to share in our e-mail letters to one another. Sometimes we put thoughts on paper or send each other physical books in the mail. I love the Australian stamps but feel guilty when a package arrives from Kathy, because it costs so much to send anything to the U.S. from Australia.
Here’s some of what’s happening in the Land of Oz these days: It’s late autumn, with winter just around the corner, and Kathy and Grahame lit their first fire in the fireplace last night. (Well, “last night” it was when she wrote to tell me the news: the time difference is something enormous.) In Tasmania (“a tiny place compared to the rest of Australia,” Kathy notes), the factory farming of chickens has been outlawed. Kathy finished reading Anne Tyler’s new book, The Beginner’s Goodbye, and is now enjoying The Descendants, by Kaui Hart Hemmings. And last but not least, that amazing and undefeated filly Black Caviar won her 21st race and will now go to Ascot. I am already dreaming of I’ll Have Another winning the Belmont, Black Caviar winning at Ascot, and the two of them meeting for one great, world-shaking race.
Until then, here are a couple of quieter horses, escaping fame in the New South Wales bush country. Looks like a pretty good life to me. As for a meeting with Kathy, the two of us are thinking that Paris, France, would be a nice rendez-vous destination, but if you're going to Australia what could be prettier than the bush country of New South Wales? There are wineries in the vicinity of Varykino, too--kind of a Leelanau Down Under?