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Monday, May 21, 2012

Scenes and News From Down Under

Road to Varykino
Isn’t this a most inviting road, and wouldn’t you love to put yourself on it? Would you walk or drive? Maybe horseback would be best. Yes, I think so.

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?

Along Grahame's morning walk


dmarks said...

Kangaroo-back, of course.

P. J. Grath said...

Oh, yes, they have those, too.

Gerry said...

I don't even let myself fantasize about trips anymore, but if I did, I would be planning one to Australia. It has always seemed like an alternate universe where a different version of me might have landed. A lot of room to think.

Kathy in Oz said...

There are hundreds of kangaroos in those hills as well as wombats, echidnas, blue tongue lizards, frill-neck dragons and snakes. You have to go a few more kilometres to find koalas.

Grahame said...

Its a nice walk Pamela. About 16klms all up. We have 70 acres surrounded by 3 different vineyards and cattle plains as well. Start my walk out from Varykino through vineyards and past cellar doors, then up the hills and around the side of the Erudgere valley accross cattle pastures and bush tracks and then back home along the Hill End Road till the turn off back past the vineyards and home again.
Takes about 3 and a bit hours and listen to music on my iPod [usually Pink Floyd]
On the trip see plenty of cattle, sheep, horses as well as kangas, foxes etc and others as mentioned by Kathy.
The 'Joe Blakes' [snakes] are to be avoided .Don't see many but one is more than enough, particularly the browns as they're very poisonous although with the cold weather coming on the buggers are hibernating by now [I hope]

P. J. Grath said...

How lovely to have Kathy and Grahame join the conversation "in person" to give us more detail on their beautiful home country! Thanks, mates! The rest of you, take a look at the times K&G left their comments. Looks like evening? To us in Michigan, yes, but on their side it was morning. Why can I never take this for granted but must be continually marveling?

Helen said...

The photos could be in the Berkshires, too.

P. J. Grath said...

Really? Massachusetts looks like Australia? Who would have guessed?

I'm glad the notification of Helen's comment called me back to this post, because it gives me a chance to say that BLACK CAVIAR WON THE ROYAL ASCOT!!!!!!!! She is undefeated and will probably now retire. What really gets to me is that this news seems to have passed over North America unnoticed. I have only two friends who paid attention to this filly at all, and that's because they have lived in Australia. BLACK CAVIAR, YOU ARE THE BEST!