Big Question Marks

Monday, December 10, 2007

We live in a house, a very small house in the country...

Sweet mercy- we're done fruitpicking!

Cherry season ended a bit earlier than planned due to the crazy amounts of rain we've been getting here lately (a real shocker, since Stanthorpe is a drought-stricken community where the town water supply is -or was- expected to run out in February 2008!) Saturday was our last day, a real scorching-hot, sunny, humid summer day. It was getting to be a real nightmare finding any ripe cherries on the trees that hadn't split from the recent rains. After a few hours of sweating, and dodging snails, spiders, and Korean tourists picking their own baskets of fruit, we all agreed that was it. Not an hour later, we were treating ourselves to McFlurries at the local McDonald's (or, "Macca's", as they call it as they call it here) the thunder, lightning, and biggest downpour began... and the storms here aren't like any Canadian summer storm. The lightning's brighter, the thunder louder, and for such a dry place, the rain just keeps on pouring. So good bye cherries!

We still had one week remaining to "do our time" for our second visa, but we'll plant blueberry seedlings at Cherry Park for a day or two to finish it off this week till we're back on the road (and despite our blog polling results, it's looking more and more like Melbourne's in the cards). Somehow along the way we really began to enjoy cherry picking (and especially the people we work for and with) and are pondering coming back next year after some, we'll have to see what our boss, Graham, does to his house next year for Xmas-- we visited on Friday evening and he surprised us by being the local Clark Griswold!

We're also happy to have a little time off so we can enjoy our new home-- last weekend we moved to a tiny stone-and-timber cottage just across the state border from Stanthorpe in New South Wales. (We're actually living in another time zone, though no one goes by it here! Crazy.) The cottage belongs to the neighbour of our Cherry Park co-worker, Sandy, and she rents it out to backpackers while the cottage's owner is off on the coast studying naturopathy. And it's a steal, at $60 a week (our trailer was $200!). It's a little "basic", as Sandy describes it-- you've got to fire up the wood stove to create hot water for the shower, and we've got a dunny (that's Aussie for outhouse, ew!). But we figured, it's only for two weeks and then we'll be city slickers again, so what the hell!

The cottage itself is about five times the size of the caravan we used to rent (we're moving up!), and it has a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, office, and a huge living room area complete with couch and super-old-school TV that gets no channels at all. It's nestled in a grove of red gums and spotted gums (huge eucalyptus trees), and we're right next to a paddock where seven cows greet us every morning (we've been tossing apples to the pregnant one, and we think she's warming up to us!). The house, we're told, is about 20 years old and entirely made of found pieces-- part of it is made from granite boulders, part raw-looking logs; there's fringed lamps and red velvet theatre curtains that must have been the ultimate garage sale score. And each window is totally different.... it's really cool.

But I know after our last blog, you're all wondering about the critters roaming nearby! Let's just say that I (Dayle) have TOTALLY kicked my fear of small spiders (I can stick my hand through a web without a squeal!) because the monsters who inhabited our dunny were unbelievable-- till we unleashed the power of Mortein, the aerosol spider killer, that is! Luckily, so far they've all been the non-threatening Huntsman type. (Lately we were reading in horror about the Wolf Spider- Aussie of course- that when it bites you it injects digestive juices so your arm slowly rots off over years and years. UGH!) But anyway, the Huntsman we found inside on the dunny wall the day we moved in was terrifying nonetheless, so big we stared in awe while he wiggled his mandibles and ate a piece of a grasshopper with its very large and hairy front leg. Ew! [WATCH OUR VIDEO HERE] A few days later, there were two Huntsmans in there-- one perched on the ceiling (it's a pretty low ceiling, too) that had me running out screaming, and another stretched out on the door. Adrian poked it with a broomstick to see what it would do, and after a few nudges it began running in circles at warp speed and we both dashed into the house screaming. (We were quite literally scared shitless!) The next morning, the ceiling spider was hanging in the same spot, but dangling from two legs in a strange acrobatic pose. I gave it a few sprays of spider death before realizing it was probably dead (or a really good actor) and tried to nudge it down with the broomstick. But it was still so scary, Adrian woke up to my screeches and was braver with the stick-- and when the spider dropped, the THUMP it made on the ground really resonated that these are no ordinary spiders... these are the Australian version of chipmunks!

The other creatures around here pale in comparison to the Huntsmans, but keep life interesting. Yesterday a fat little black lizard wandered in and hung out behind the open front door until I scared it off with the camera flash. We were late for work one day when we had to get a tree frog out of the van. Every day, we wake up to the cackles of kookaburras, king parrots, and crows, and sometimes come home to find a bunch of idiotic belly-up beetles who decided to die in our cups and mugs. And there are probably about 20 big charcoal-grey moths that live in the cabin, but we just leave them alone since they were here long before us (though there are times when we dislike them, like when we pull a curtain and one swoops out to freak us out).

And if the cottage is cool, our neighbours are even better. Though Sandy does enjoy 'freaking out the tourists' by lending us books like "Australia's Deadliest Creatures" and inviting us over to watch Wolf Creek (eek, have you watched that movie back home??), she and her family have treated us like family ourselves and had us over for beer and barbeque feasts, and yesterday they took us out to Undercliff Falls at a nearby national park, where we hiked down what was pretty much a sheer cliff to a gorgeous towering waterfall, where we swam around for hours and had a great time till the thunder began rumbling again. It's a pretty cool spot to be in-- though Liston (where we're staying) is a village now, apparently in the gold rush days (like 1870s) it had a population of 80,000. Sandy's partner Lionel's a big fossicking enthusiast and said it's not hard at all to find rocks full of gold and tin that the miners missed, today just laying on the ground in dried-up creek beds. And we still get excited just by seeing a kangaroo jump by!

PS. Come see the creepy critters hanging out around our country cottage, and more-- we've put up a pile of new photos on Flickr.


Graeme said...

you do realize that you will have to come back to enjoy Laura's open bar wedding in December next year!

Sean said...

you guys are moving up in the white trash world!
from snakes to spiders...when do we get the killer kangeroo story?