Sunday, January 8, 2012

Country House

It's occurred to me quite recently that the majority of posts I've written of late have been quite negative. Their subject matter is invariably a humourous take on woes that befall me, or situations that I have hated sure, but they're still pretty whingey. I know this brings the lols to those who read this blog (especially Mitch) and as such I won't soon be stopping, but I also wonder how much this depicts me as a negative person. In actuality, the second half of 2011 and the first week or so of 2012 have found me in the happiest head space I've been in for a very long time. Maybe that's why I'm able to find hilarity in unpleasant situations and the idiotic things I do? Perhaps.

At any rate, today's post isn't negative in the slightest. In fact, the four days I'll now attempt to detail can only really begin to be described as "idyllic". Sigh. Tomorrow work begins again, and I imagine I'll spend much of the day gazing longingly out the window and daydreaming about time spent without a watch, picking fruit and lazing on the beach.

The location was Leongatha, at Marlon's parents' place. They weren't there, but the dogs, chickens, sheep, the views, the beach and ripe fruit were. We took a wrong turn on the sweltering hot car trip there, thanks to my easily-distracted direction-giving skills but helped in no way by my fellow navigator. As a Kiwi, Mike's brain very quickly turned to mush in the heat and conversation slowed to a near halt as the heat rose and the car made noises of pain, struggling against the unfamiliar weight and the air-con on full bore. The wrong turn however, meant the detour we took to get back on the South Gippsland highway took us through be-sheeped paddocks and back roads lined with trees and small pubs whose clientele whirled around in curiosity at the sound of a car speeding past.

Upon finally arriving at Marlon's our jaws collectively dropped to the floor as we attempted to stifle gasps. Or at least, I did. Alice's face was probably more easily readable as a look somewhere between "overwhelmed" and complete delight. We agreed later that had Immy been there, she would have been sent into a conniption, such was the gorgeous scene and the house that resided within it. Marlon, perhaps sensing our delight, gave us a tour of the property. The house, with its rooms littered with the beautifully mis-matched trinkets, books and paintings and things only acquired after years and years of living. The old kitchen, the verandahs with three dogs lazing on it. Three outdoor wood fired bread/pizza ovens, a shed full of chickens. An orchard, full of peaches, grapefruits, oranges, apples. Artichokes, berries, avocadoes, with dorky geese waddling around and two of the friendliest and fluffiest sheep you can imagine. Frequently looking back at Alice, I could see her eyes growing bigger and bigger in gleeful shock and wonder. We picked peaches straight off the tree and ate them, the warm juice dripping down our faces and arms. Marlon took us to the other side of the house, where the cellar sat with a tiny little room resplendent on top, stairs leading up to it.
"Reb." Mike was pointing at the room, grinning. "Ernest Hemingway."
"Ohhhh my goodness!! Imagine being led up to that love nest!" Alice cried.

Seriously. Seriously, it was just too lovely to describe. The other side of the house led us to cucumbers, potatoes, pumpkins, a shed for making cider in, flowers, olives, strawberries. Come ON! We half-expected some Ashton Kutcher-esque guy in a backwards trucker cap to leap out from within the bushes and declare that we'd been Punk'd.

The first day was spent at the beach, finally cooling off after the rather rudely hot journey to Leongatha. Alice and Mike's backs were peeling something awful, an arm almost permanently reaching behind them to have at the itchy carnage. Unfortunately for Alice's gag reflex, I soon discovered a newfound love and skill (?) for peeling chunks of skin off Mike's back. I don't know about you, but I think our friendship reached a new level as soon as I triumphantly held up a piece of skin, bobbing in the surf. 

Cheap thrills, yo.

You know? That was the first time I'd been to a beach proper since Alice, Karin and I lay by the surf in Spain. That was 2010. Can you believe that? I mean sure, I'd swum in an Amazonian lake, Peruvian hot springs, and Lake Eildon (obviously the most impressive of the trio), but no beaches. The sand, the taste and smell of the water, the sting of the ol' water-in-yer-nostrils game ... I was surprised to realise that I had missed it dearly. Living right on the bay in Adelaide all those years ago, I took the beach for granted, and even decided that I was decidedly not a "beach person". Truth be told, I'm now re-thinking that opinion of myself. It was glorious as hell, bobbing around and (failing at) catching waves. Marlon and Mike headed further out while Alice and I stayed behind to talk excitedly of the extent of the loveliness we'd managed to find ourselves in. A day at the beach, lying in the sun, with the promise of a barbeque and cider upon returning to Marlon's. 

For those of you playing at home, yes, I did get slightly sunburnt. It was probably somewhere between dozing off on the sand and stopping off for a beer on the way back home. Sozol skin, you'll be scaly for a few days yet. The barbeque was prepared, as was the salad. The sun went down and out came the camera and ciders and thus so too did the conversations and gesticulations that grew wilder as the volume of laughter also did. What did we talk about? Oh lord, don't ask me to remember! Everything and anything. Everything from the pros and cons of fighting to the death against a horse-sized duck to punk to sex to creativity. All the while, three dogs eyed us curiously as we sat beside the cellar, drinking port after the cider. 

The days that followed all seemed to be guided by the same script. Sleep in, fry up some bacon and eggs, down some coffee, head to the beach, swim, sunbathe, meander our way back past the supermarket, make pizzas, cook them in the outdoor oven, drink cider, drink wine, blast some music, keep drinking, pass out. 

The box in the pantry set aside for recyclables soon filled and overflowed, with cider bottles, wine bottles (blanco y tinto), homemade cider bottles, and one bottle of whiskey was unwisely tackled after all of the drinks listed above. Let that be a lesson to y'all, children. If you've had cider, white wine, red wine, homemade beer, homemade cider and a spliff, then whiskey is a bad idea. 

Reb: (the next day) Whiskey was the worst choice. 

However, up until the point when I chundered to the dulcet tones of Mike's laughter (at me, not with me), the night was filled with laughter and music and pizza. Alice went to bed, and the two guys and I embarked on a whiskey-fueled adventure - an adventure which even included rally driving to Korumburra to buy papers. I tried my darndest to keep up with Mike and Marlon's hip-hop oriented conversations to varying levels of success, and could feel myself talking louder and louder, with arms waving further and further into the air - as is the case after so many fun-filled, alcohol-soaked hours in good company. Fun fact: Marlon is truly a superb host. 

Needless to say, the following day (read: afternoon) I felt rather worse for wear. The beach, the supermarket, a nap, pizza, wine, back on the horse. More delicious pizza and delicious company, with the perfect temperature in the breeze. We went inside and thus ensued a dance party. Alice and I flailed around in the inimitable that has made us a force to be reckoned with on the D-Floor. Toe-tapping, hip-twisting, arm-flapping, jumping and kicking; we even managed to get Mike off his feet to the strains of some 60s garage. I then put on a bit of Limp Bizkit, to Alice's wide-eyed horror. "BREATH IN BREATH OUT HANDS UP HANDS DOWN BACK UP BACK UP TELL ME WHATCHA WANNA DO NOW KEEP ROLLIN' ROLLIN' ROLLIN'" Mike attempted a body-roll at the behest of Alice, to a chorus of our hysterical laughter. Alice and I debated the finer points of "being danced with", longed for the days of charming men dipping girls on a civilised dance floor. Then, as if to contradict those thoughts entirely, came the mounting. As those who are acquainted with us know well, when Alice and I are around the mounting inevitably occurs, as does licking. Thus, also came the metal-hands and screeching along to "Bohemian Rhapsody", into what we'd decided would be our microphone - Mike's crotch. Sorry, Mike. 

"How did he think he could fit
four songs into one??!" - Alice
Disregarding being cornered in my room by a giant spider and as a result spending the night on the couch (Wisely I think, I decided not to venture into Alice and Marlon's room to ask for assistance), our last night in Leongatha ended pleasantly and our last morning there began sans hangover. We feasted yet again on bacon and eggs, as well as the bagels Mike had made the night before. Talented boy.

After a quick round of target practice using Marlon's air rifle (turns out I'm a pretty good shot, if anyone playing at home is in need of a sharpshooter) and posing with a very old and beautiful rifle, it dawned on us that we'd have to hit the old dusty trail soon. We then went on one last wander around the garden, picking all manner of fruit and vegetable to take home with us. The dogs scampered around us, prancing and wrestling in the grass. Again, we ate berries and peaches and picked the most monstrously large grapefruits imaginable. Marlon disappeared into the bush and a minute later emerged grinning, handing Alice a bunch of flowers he'd just picked. Alice's face - if our surroundings and the fruit hadn't caused her brain to explode from delight - managed to become an expression of the kind of gleeful bewilderment I can't for the life of me describe.

Anyway. We bade goodbye to Marlon, thanked him a wonderful few days. Earlier that morning Alice and I had reflected on the days that we'd just had, and how completely and utterly idyllic and relaxing they had been. Alice asked me what time it was, and to my surprise I lifted my wrist and realised I hadn't worn my watch for four days. Generally speaking, I feel naked as hell without my watch, and panic when I don't know what the time is. Over those few days however, all concept of time and what day it was completely flew out the window. That phrase, "not a care in the world", was absolutely fitting; we all agreed that any troubles that might've been lingering in the backs of our minds were completely washed away by the booze and the sea and the company we were keeping. That rarely happens for me, so certainly it was an occurrence worth noting. Not for a very, very long time have I been that relaxed. Similarly, not for a while have I spent four days with a group of people and not once felt that a silence was uncomfortable, or that a conversation was stilted. That too, I think is worth noting. 

So then, as we said goodbye to Marlon and his wonderful house, it was a sinking realisation that the real world was hurtling towards us at a breakneck, sinister speed. The trip back was markedly more subdued than the one there, even though the temperature was cooler and our brains hadn't turned to mush. Thoughts of work, what would face us on Monday, the distinct lack of beach and home made pizzas that would be so glaring at our respective offices. Sigh. I shouldn't complain, seeing as my place of employment happens to be a highly enjoyable one ... but still. There's a lot to be said for wandering barefoot through the grass, picking warm peaches from a tree. 

Here's to an amazing "weekend"! 

No comments:

Post a Comment