Lets backtrack a little bit. Before i left the country i had a month from when i finished work to when i left the country .After spending a mad two weeks in Brisbane seeing off all my friends i packed my stuff and headed up to Crystal Waters.
For those of you who dont know Crystal Waters is where I grew up. Its a Permaculture village in the Hinterland inland from the sunshine coast.
Life moves at a different pace here.
Walking down the main street of Maleny, the local town, may take you half an hour. This is not because it is a particularly long street or even because it is crowded. No. Rather you know every second person. And they want to know how you’re going and then Your Mum wants to tell them how your going away on a big trip to Italy and Spain and they’re all lovely and giving you advice and telling you that they’re jelous.
The property where i grew up with my Mum and sister is a 1 acre block of land with scattered small houses, proliferous gardens and abundant wildlife.
There are no dogs or cats allowed in CW so the local animals have a bit of an attitude. Its great. Sometimes the kangeroos will stand on the road in front of the car and just stare at you with the best ‘dont mess with me, sista!’ face on cause they know you’re not going to drive into them. Unfortunately the bitey insects are also abundant but this is part and parcel of living in the country. Ticks are a small price to pay for a sky FULL of stars, if you ask me..
I slept in a little hut out amongst the gardens which is open to nature and woke up naturally. I had the intention to wake up a little earlier each day until i was waking up with the dawn. In brisbane if left to sleep without an alarm i would probably wake at about ten. And getting up at 8 for work as i did most morning for the last 2 years would leave me with six hours sleep. I had reached a point where i had the ability too sleep for six hours a night, work sixy hours a week and just nap in the afternoons to keep me going.
The first night at Sunrise Paradise, as we call Mums house, i slept for 11 hours. Mum and me and tea on the deck and i started cleaning and asking to help as Mum made breakfast and she said, ‘You’re on holiday now. Relax a bit.’
My chef training made my fingers itch at doing nothing, a small voice whispering in my head, ‘Time to lean, time to clean.’ I ignored it.
Tuesday we went to visit Les, the baker at the local wood-fired sourdough bakery. This bakery has made me a bit of a bread snob from a young age as the bread here is fantastic. Its made by hand from a natural leven (if you dont know about sourdough you should check it out – its amazing!), dont believe me? Here I am eating a loaf straight out of the oven, still warm and crusty..
Then my younger brother Tumii, my good friend Ned and Neds younger brother Rueben and I all decided that swimming in the freezing cold creek was a good idea.
Ye gods it was cold! I started a water fight, like the mature adult i am, and we splashed each other till our blood started flowing..
Then we played a crazy game that involves getting two feet on the top level of the kids play house nearby. Shit gets really hectic then because one person or ‘guard’ is protecting the top level and if they touch you, you must go back to base. Its tactical, teamworky and totally mad. Before long the cold of the river was long forgotten and we were sweaty and laughing.
Les made us fresh coffee back at the bakery with a local coffee that was damn good. I tried to pay him and he laughed me down. Life is hard. We swung on the swings and then Les brought us the most amazing thing. He had taken the leftover pieces of bread dough and baked them in the blazingly hot woodfired oven till they were like puffy chewy parcels of amazingness and we ate them with this bowl of olive oil with soft fetta mixed into it and pieces of dates. It was glorious.
Olive oil with fetta and dates.. Why have i never discovered this before? We ate with our fingers, oblivious to the hotness of the bread or the oil that coated or smiling faces; so good was the experience.
I spent three days with my father and my other younger siblings. My got up every morning at 6 am and went down to the field for ‘Warrior Training’ which was lots of different excersises. We picked wild berries and wrote a nonsense book and i had afternoon naps everyday. I made a giant pot of Harira soup and between us all it was gone in two meals. Seriously, like ten litres of the stuff. Five kids and two adults + me. Insanity.
My amazing boyfriend came down to visit from Brisbane.. We made a fire in the potbelly stove and stayed up late talking and I rose at six to have an early morning cup of tea with Mum before making Spanish eggs. My breakfast specialty. Well, one of them… Here they are in all their glory.
We at them at a table out in the garden with Les’s bread and it was goood.
We explored the creek which has changed almost completely from the huge flood earlier this year. But i was happy to see that some of our old tree house still clings tenaciously to the tree. We were not bad builders for young teenagers. So many memories came flooding back from this spot on the river. Many nights of camping and swimming in floods and building tree houses.
One memory i have is of my two childhood friends, Jamie and Jarrah, putting out our fire in the ‘tradition way’ they called it, by pissing on it. We thought that was hilarious when we were kids.
Too many memories to list here.
I found some wild watercress! I was soo excited! Ive never seen watercress growing in the wild! But there it was.. Just chilling out in the gentle stream, soaking up aqua and being quietly delicious. I picked a small bunch and brought it home to have with dinner.
We made a chocolate and zuchinni cake with chocolate frosting and it was so damn delicious! But dont let me tell you.. Have a look for yourself…
Also i will put up a recipe for this. Make, i tell you. You’ll be surprised at how good it is. Slightly chewy on the outside, super moist on the inside and with a fascinating texture from the zuchini. Think carrot cake, but with a twist..
I spent the night visiting my long term friend, Rini and it was wonderful to hang out with her. She has two beautiful boys and we painted pictures, made carrot cake, watched the wiggles, jumped on the trampoline and made dinner together.
She is one of those friends that you dont see for years and yet when you do, you still click. I wish I could have seen here more in the last few years. I will have to remedy that when i return.
My sister, who is also my best friend, came up from Brisbane for two days so me and ned and her and Tumii could hang out one last time. We played a furious game of killer bunnies and then made plans for what we would do if the apocalypse occurs on 2012. Thats our secret, ladies and gentlemen. But make your own plans.
We went to watch the full moon rise over the dam and waited an hour before we realized it had snuck up behind a tree and was all disapointingly pale at 5pm in the afternoon. We had one last icecream at Colin James, the best icecream in Australia, and spent an afternoon in Montville where we sat by a beautiful view and ate bread and dips. I said good bye to my sister. This will be the longest we have ever spent apart in our lives. Damn you, Nils. I miss you.
Cue thursday morning of my second week. By this point i am feeling relaxed. I am going to see my amazing friend Renee Blackwell today. We are going to hang out and i will see the extension on her studio and it will be a wonderful day. At seven in the morning i am woken by a horrible pain in my head.
I sleepily feel around my face and find the source. A fat little tick sucking at my brain juices. I expertly pull him out, squish him flat and attempt to go back to sleep. After growing up in the country i get no reactions to ticks. He is perhaps my fourth since i arrived in Crystal Waters.. I cannot sleep. The pain is stabbing and feels as though it is spreading to cover half my head. I wake mum and for the next hour we try everything. Mums neighbour and an old friend of mine Sybil appears like a magical fairy with some ledum. Apparently the ticks are really bad this year, she says, and some people have gone to hospital with limes disease. After two hours i am still in intense pain. It feels like red hot irons are penatring my head right into my brain. I cannot sleep. I would seriously take a broken bone over this pain. I have feverish thoughts of getting limes disease and being unable to leave for Italy on sunday… My mum calls renee to say i might be late. Finally i give in and take some nurofen so i can at least sleep. My body will fix things.
It does. After three hours i wake up totally fine. No pain, nothing. Take that tick. My amazing immune system strikes again. But alas! It is too late to see Renee. We arrange to have dinner on saturday night.
I spend a lovely friday seeing Domanique, a childhood friend of mine, showing everyone how to make homemade mayonnaise, coriander pesto in a mortar and pestle and a giant pot of minastrone soup – ala Crystal Waters. It is fantastically delicious. We top it with the coriander pesto which is redolent flavor and pungently garlic-y and top it with grated pecorino.
Its hard to be us.
My last night i have dinner with Renee at a gorgeous restaurant in Maleny where we talk about everything under the sun, as we do. We are both a pair of chatterboxes. Renee has offered to come visit me in Spain next year. You can bet we will have a fantastic time. We head back to her house for a late night viewing of the extension to her new bead studio, which is gorgeous, as expected.
I am surprisingly calm for my last night in the country. Crystal waters has that effect. Have another cup of rooibos tea and a piece of sourdough toast. As Mum said, Tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of my life…
For more photos of my time in Crystal Waters check out …http://www.flickr.com/photos/missnom