As dawn breaks I hasten down the stairs, out into the crisp new morning. I am eager to relive my college days when I would go jogging through the chilly streets of Armidale in the early hours, relishing time alone and the break from busy dorm life. Well, thirty years and nine children later I’m not exactly running out the door, (although perhaps I should be), but with no less enthusiasm I grab my camera and two willing daughters, determined to show them the wonders of winter as I remember it.
Of course this isn’t winter with snow covered mountains, ski jackets and beanies. It would take us days to get to that kind of cold. I’ve only really been to the snow twice, and of course loved it, although I am more of a snow walker than skier. Never been the sporty type. I’d personally rather get lost in some Narnian daydream wandering through snow covered woods than try to ski down a mountain.
To my kids, this is about as cold as winter gets. We don’t even need coats. Tragic I know. However, if I can show them a frost and they can see the chill in the air they breathe, then they have experienced a winter morning!
Fortunately, we were not disappointed. It was such a joy to see the girls delight in the simple pleasures our morning walk afforded, most notably, Miss Charlotte’s reaction to spotting an (albeit scrawny) neighbourhood horse.
Growing up in the country, these are the ordinary scenes that flood my memory. Old rickety fences, brown, bare thirsty earth, quiet dusty lanes. Australia is such a unique country, and I am determined to show my girls it’s beauty in the ordinary. I want them to find treasure in a morning walk and appreciate a country town that is so different to their home in the lush greenery of the coast.
As we wandered back to our hundred year old hotel for breakfast, I couldn’t help noticing the buildings. Neglected cottages and cosy homes lining the streets. I wonder who lived in them, what tales their walls would tell if they could talk, and how the women were dressed as they hustled in their tiny kitchens gossiping with their neighbours.
It wasn’t long before we were all packed up and ready to head west, further over the mountain into the wide open spaces of my childhood home. There is nothing quite like going back to your roots, back to family and all that is familiar and easy. We don’t get there nearly enough, but each time we do I am reminded of how much I love the the place where I was born and my loved ones who still live there. Join me next weekend for the final chapter in our little road trip and then I promise you we will get back to cake!