Monday, April 16, 2012


I had a long weekend for the Easter holiday so I decided to take advantage and use the travel time to go up to Perth. I yearned for a bit of civilization, socializing, and familiarity - sure, we’ve taken the weekends to get away and be touristy around Great Southern, but they've just been day trips really - and yet at the same time I was anxious about how I would feel towards “big”* city life after two months in “isolation”**: would I hate it, would I love it, would it be loud, would I feel rushed, would I miss it?  In the end, I really enjoyed being back in Perth: seeing people I knew, laughing a lot while catching up, learning how to play poker - and winning - singing karaoke, not drinking wine, and relishing in the familiar ease of navigating my way around.

*"big" as in Perth isn't really a big city.
** "isolation" as in Frankland really is isolated.

It would have been nice to have another day, but I had quickly spent all my money without knowing or realizing it – it’s just an expensive place in general. I spent in three hours to feel like a “normal” “civilized” “real” person again three times as much as I spend in an entire week down south. It was nice to know that I still liked Perth for future movements, and also nice to realize that I was happy to come back to my little "zoo" of a home in Frankland.

What I really realized from this weekend away was how lucky I have been. From talking to people about what I was doing four hours south, it occurred to me that I couldn’t have written to a better place to work at. I wrote to Frankland Estate because they were listed in the WWOOF book, not because I had heard of them before. Going through the book, I knew I wanted to work towards my three months of regional work to be eligible to apply for my second year visa as a dual-experience by combining it with a continuation of learning in an area I was interested in. I don't think I would be suitable for or interested in fence building, outdoor lavatories, or massive cattle farms, but I wrote to wineries, olive orchards, and even thought I could sacrifice my asthma for working on a goat farm making cheese. The WWOOF book only contains hosts that practice organic farming. The places I wrote to out of interest in their farming practices could have been of any quality and any size production. Only after had I received a response from the estate did I think to look it up online and began to search for it in wine guide books in the book stores of Perth. The fact that they even had a website and that the books even listed them gave them credibility to me – and more so with their high wine scores. I guess it is safe to say I was desperate for an opportunity and willing to take anything, but for some reason, luck was on my side. Despite all the anxious anticipation I had from reading how remote they were on the website, that soon eased away with the compatibility of my roomie, the friendliness of the family, the hands-on approach to the work, and the deliciousness of the wine. It all could have been crap and I could have hated it. But the Frankland Estate wines, even though I am still learning and trying to train my palate, are remarkable and I could not have been luckier to have such a wine-learning experience here. The patience and the fervor in which the people like to talk about wine is tremendous.  The hard work is literally never-ending, but because it is a family-run estate, the dedication is unstoppable and full of passion. They work for each other and with each other and the final product reveals this time, effort, and love.

Leaving for a long weekend and coming back, I realize how much I have learned and am grateful for the experience and opportunity. It was the perfect timing for it - not only mentally but because it is the end of vintage. Now, I need to figure out what’s next. You’d think I was used to it by now - always moving, always changing, always planning, always unsure of the future - but it always causes a scratching of anxiety that I try to block out. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it eventually comes to the surface, peer-pressuring me to face it, like the chore you don’t want to to do or the bill you avoid paying until last minute.

2010: Two years ago I spent Easter in northern Greece eating all parts of a lamb roasted whole outside in the back yard with friends I had just met, but are now life-long friends.
2011: Last year I spent Easter with our family friends in Dunfanaghy eating Irish lamb and potatoes.
2012: This year I spent Easter in Australia with an American and a German eating a backyard-raised lamb grilled on the BBQ in the typical Aussie fashion outside on a warm autumn night. 

Maybe lamb is the only commonality between these last couple of years, in various countries around the world with different people, but as we remarked this year, it doesn't matter where you are or who you are with but that one little piece of tradition brings the holiday together. Tradition doesn't have to be about doing the same thing every year, but you make it mean something to yourself. We could have ate pasta. We didn't have mint sauce. But the lamb made it feel like we were celebrating Easter. It was appropriate and it was appreciated. 

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