Imagine owning a “pride and joy” automobile (I’ll take a BMW Z3 convertible, thanks) that you can only drive a few consecutive weeks a year. Raise Merino sheep for a living, and you’ll have just such a possession – in the form of a shearing shed! The entire floor, swept nearly once a minute during the shearing bonanza, must be made from wood generally reserved for fine furniture. Given the building can’t double as storage or a workshop lest the farmer risk wear-and-tear of the prized surfaces, it’s a six-figure investment that gets used about six days a year!
Having worked with sheep on various farms (Wyoming, Italy & New Zealand), I found the sheep shearing show at Yallingup quite endearing. Jenny – the last Smith sister whose acquaintance I’d finally made – took me to see the show her friends put on each week. She also treated me to incredible countryside drives, a visit to the local farmer’s market, and one stunning coastline view after another. The water in Australia is unexpectedly vivid – a color wikipedia describes as cyan. It’s the same color of blue most of you see in your printer-ink manager on a regular basis. Or in your Blue Curaco. 😉
Speaking of adult beverages, Jenny and her husband Chris and I shared several over my lovely stay in Busselton. We spent lots of time chatting, often touching on the topic of Jenny’s long-lost sisters (and brothers) whose family I’d become sort of a surrogate member of in New Zealand. It’s the most heartwarming story. Jenny grew up an only child, adopted by Australian parents in Fiji. She spent her life longing for siblings, and invested several years of her adulthood into trying to unveil the contents of sealed adoption records. Meanwhile, 1,000 miles across the ocean in New Zealand, the children of Jenny’s biological mother had been searching for Jenny since they first knew about her – in their teenage years. Decades passed, another generation was born, and then another. One of Jenny’s sisters – Andrea – had a birthday approaching, and Andrea’s daughter wanted to get her mom a priceless present. They’d spent years calling every matching surname they could find in Australian phone books and never turned up the sister they’d hoped to meet and have as part of their lives. Andrea’s daughter took to the internet once more, this time shortly after Jenny had posted an ad in forum and joined Facebook. Finally a possible match was found, a tentative email sent, an enthusiastic response written, a reunion planned, and an overjoyed group of siblings finally came together!
Jenny is so much like her sisters, it’s uncanny. I struggle sometimes not to call her by the wrong name! Spending time with her and Chris was and is a real treat! Chris, her hubby, is a man with a heart of gold. He’s going to kill me for letting the cat out of the bag. 🙂 His rough-and-tumble, former-farmboy, retired-mechanic exterior is a sharp contrast to all the sweet favors he does for his neighbors, friends, and family. Just one example: he and I spent an entire afternoon combing beaches together in search of an edible seaweed to be used in an event their talented son and daughter were hosting a few days later. It was great to get to see so much local territory, and I can’t complain that we ended the day absorbing the best brewery atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. Drinking taster glasses in a farm field under giant eucalyptus trees in the late afternoon, late summer light… heaven!
I spent the following day checking out the local municipality to see if it could remain on my “places-I-might-live-in-Western-Australia” list. Answer: umm… probably not. Busselton proper has all the cons of city life with none of the pros (for me – to each their own). So, one down, two to go. I have a great feeling about Bunbury and maybe even Albany.
The rest of our Busselton days were spent making runs down to Margaret River (crossed that one off the list – great place to visit, too touristy to want to live there) and Alberta to help Jenny’s daughter. In Alberta I got to see one of the most excessive houses I’ve ever been in, all in the name of helping get it ready for its coming occupants. Wow. Chris and I also managed to go out for a ride in “Jeremiah” – a souped-up old Ford Thames that goes zero to sixty in a most thrilling manner. 🙂 Jenny raved about the tacos I threw together one night, adored the playlists I made for her (we are musical soul mates!), and we wrapped up our time together with a squeeze-bottle mission on par with the seaweed-harvesting excursion. Can’t wait for our next get-together! ♣
A dog that walks on sheep, drive-in liquor stores, songbird snuggles and the infamous Ford Thames in this facebook album.