‘You can’t roller skate in as buffalo herd
But you can be happy if you’ve a mind to…’
What have we been up to lately? A whirlwind trip east to Melbourne: four days in the car, visiting friends en route; a bakery or three; endless coffees and wine on tap. No time to pause. Driving, eating, talking non-stop. And, before we could gather our thoughts, we are home again, feeling as if we just stepped off a long haul flight, with gritty eyes and greasy hair.
Despite the pace, it was a terrific trip: the joy of the open road, glimpsing kangaroos and emus, llamas by the bucket load, and a small, determined echidna, rooting for ants on the side of the highway; catching up with friends and talking a mile a minute to make sure we had covered the weeks, months, years since last we spoke; a picnic in the park with our boys, somewhere on a back street in Brunswick, nibbling on prawn crackers, dumplings and steak in black bean sauce while critiquing the graffiti – it is EVERYWHERE in Melbourne!
Frantic, out of focus, sleeping poorly (too much wine) but oh! so much fun. Putting the world to rights with friends, hearing details of new jobs, new adventures, reminiscing about past lives. It was an exciting, enervating, eclectic mix of food, farming and famille.
In a country town somewhere south of Ballarat, we indulged in two delicious dinners, made from scratch from the veggie patch outside the kitchen window. It may have been a slap in the eye for the One & Only, who has struggled to grow anything much in the sand dune we live on, but nonetheless, there is something inspiring about eating a meal created from home grown produce: beans, zucchini, figs, fresh pasta, even homemade ice cream.
Likewise on a cattle farm near the Coonawarra, a barbecue of perfectly cooked beef steaks and salads concocted from myriad ingredients freshly plucked fifty metres from the back door. And playing with some mad kelpies who jumped into trees and begged us to throw them grapefruit to catch.
We may not need to eat for a week, but while we are detoxing, we’re determined to revive our sandy garden beds, to wrestle with the tomatoes, the fruit trees and the herb garden, to charge in with pony poo and mulch and plenty of patience. And maybe, by next summer, I too will be making primavera pasta from our own produce. I may even invest in a pasta maker – but possibly not the roller skates! Any advice welcome…