It’s been a week since we arrived in Drysdale and checked into our housesit.
It’s only our second one, so it still feels a bit odd to me to roll up to someone’s place and push them out the front door, but in both cases we’ve found friends waiting. Norm and Marg, the lovely couple that has leant us their japanese style home are kindred spirits. The second night we were here, I whispered to Tony in the dark, “You know I think they’re us twenty five years on!”
We’ve been asked twice this week why in the world we decided to drop anchor in Drysdale, of all hole in the wall places. The answer is woven in and out and over and around and through our first week here:
- We can walk to everything we need, and I do mean everything.
- There’s live music at the corner pub every Friday night (this is very important to Hannah)
- The library is just up the street
- There are five “Op Shops” in town (like Goodwill, for our North American friends)
- Two streets over is an enormous park
- The medical center is right next door (literally… and with our boys… well… it could come in handy)
- There are crafts shops and a community center and a museum (all within walking distance, of course)
The biggest reason we’d pick Drysdale?
We have friends here.
We didn’t know it, of course, when we dropped out of the sky last Thursday afternoon, but it turns out they’ve been here all along.
When I popped an email off to the coordinator of the local homeschool group I was pleasantly surprised to find that Thursdays are sports days in the park behind our house. 45 or so kids poured out of vans and folded my little herd seamlessly into their midst.
The best part? A family that lives right here in Drysdale. They’ve got six munchkins and the oldest is just a bit younger than Ezra, which means a ready-made friend set! They came over for tea one day. Our boys were over to play the next. Then last night they invited us to their farm for dinner.
It felt like home.
I have big kids now, and life is (more or less) sedate. Chopping cucumbers for salad while their boys chased mine around the house with nerf guns, listening to their mama shoosh them all out the door into the horse paddock to play while their sweet little pink pearl of a baby girl was doted on by every passerby reminded me of all of the things I loved best about our stationary life in America.
Days when we were surrounded by big families and several nights a week were filled with community dinners, long tables made longer by folding tables and furniture moved to make room. It reminded me of a dozen years ago and dinners at the Tracy family farm in Indiana when we had seven kids under six between us. Sitting around the campfire beneath the southern cross, I found myself looking for the north star. Listening to their kids sing their dinner grace and then chatter like magpies between mouthfuls of sausage, watching the seven year old do all in his power to kindly distract the baby from her bent toward destroying his train track, watching Grandma and Grandpa preside with obvious joy over the raucous celebration that dinner should always be reminded me of all of the things (and people) that I love most and made me look forward to that elusive “someday” that will bring us back around to some other incarnation of this life and back to roots, and deep community. We love what we’re doing now, but it won’t last forever.
Of course it also made us all miss the social event of the year in New Hampshire, which is happening right now without us: the infamous Camp Wood: our annual multi-family camp out that floods the Wood Family Farm with tents, late night glow-stick wiffle ball, cribbage death matches and more kids than any of us can count. Don’t ask about the year the hurricane blew through… actually, I think that happened twice!
And so, here we are:
In Drysdale, Australia. In the southern hemisphere. On the fringe of the Southern Ocean. Looking down at Antarctica over the bed of the horizon. Very, very far away from everyone we know and love. Yet, we find ourselves at home in all of the best ways. Ezra made himself right at home by getting himself bucked off of one of the horses (sprained finger, nothing broken, don’t worry Grandmas!) Hannah made herself right at home by taking up residence in the bar on Friday night with the acoustic guitarist (and her Daddy, of course!) Gabe made himself right at home by scoping out the yacht club possibilities. Elisha made himself right at home by taking proprietary control of the library card and checking out every Asterix and Obelisk he could lay his hands on. Tony’s made himself right at home in Norm’s office. And me? Well, you know me, I’m home wherever I find myself.