Monday, April 23, 2007

travel log part III


after another 1,000 km, we are back in  melbourne for the foreseeable future.  we had a lovely visit in country victoria - wodonga, yackandandah, beechworth and kiewa - with geoff's family.  we visited with geoff's grandparents (kath's parents) and stayed with his cousin kelly and her family (dave, teagan and grace). 


if it weren't for the tragic drought, we would have been renewed by the time outdoors on farmland in rural australia.  unfortunately, there is general consensus that the drought is the worst this century.  the prime minister has called for national prayer and farmers are losing cattle and their livelihood.  the prediction is that food costs might increase four fold.  each day was marred by a smoky sky...there is an effort to "back burn" parts of the bush as a preventative measure for the next season.


during our stay, we attended a small house church gathering with kev as he shared about his prison fellowship work.  it was lead by a beautiful elderly gentleman who is a legend in christian circles  (alan hirsch dedicated his new book to him and he's had a profound influence on many leaders in the church here).  we also shared about our life in lexington at grandma and georgie's church on sunday before kev preached.


on saturday, we attended a family birthday celebration for kelly and her one-year old daughter, grace.  we had a delightful time during this "bush picnic."  at the top of the family's paddock, right at the bush line where the gum trees grow, they barbequed snags (sausages), beef and chicken over an open fire and we sang happy birthday and ate a "barbie" cake.  this local family tradition was a unique, treasured experience for isaac and me as visitors.

we also had a brief visit with dear family friend's, the deslandes.  their home is located on a hill overlooking the land that was the maddock farm for four generations.  while we visited, marg took us down the road to see her sister's family.  they are prolific artists - they raise their own alpacas, spin the wool, weave with a loom, paint, sing, take photos and build frames for them.  it was a delight to behold.

geoff felt fully reaquainted with his extended family and the land he once loved.  talking with his cousins, they recalled many childhood experiences together.  as a spouse, i listened with great interest as it continued to fill in cultural and personal gaps for me.  i got a thorough glimpse of the textures, elements and people that most influenced geoff in his youth.  sadly though, i realized that i can memorize maps and convert currency, shop locally, and understand the complexities of aussie quips, but i cannot belong to his past or share in his memories.  it is a simple reality we embrace with our marriage of two places.

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