Monday, January 19, 2009

Arrival in Tassy

Australia 3 - Tassy First Impressions

Finally on my way to Tasmania! The bug has settled deeply into my chest and I figure I am at about 50% lung capacity... not ideal conditions for navigating foreign airports, but watcha gonna do? Melbourne airport security turns out to be a pleasant surprise: there are no lines and the Aussie counterparts of the much-despised TSA officers are sunny and polite. My jacket stays on my shoulders, my shoes on my feet, my water bottle in its compartment in my backpack and a few big Aussie coins still jingle in my pocket. How refreshingly civilized!

The flight to Hobart is very short, (45 minutes) nevertheless we are served a full breakfast. Makes me think about that 3 hr flight to to LA where we were served a cup of water and a bag o’ pretzels for dinner....

I am met at the airport by Chris Cowles and his parter Di McPherson. Chris is the one who spent long hours and a lot of effort writing up the grant that brought me here. He is a small, neat gent in his 60’s, a designer and an educator prone to scholarly attire and precise language. She is a large, fit, warmly no-nonsense woman whose area of expertise is textiles - specifically, dying. Their home is a work-in-progress in Connelly’s Marsh - about an hour’s drive from Hobart. I will be staying in their cozy guest room for the first few days of my Taz stay and it is the perfect spot to curl up with ‘Son of a Witch” (the sequel to “Wicked”, purchased at the airport) and recover as quickly as possible. The water views are wide and thrilling -- I almost feel as though (given enough time) I could write a novel here. Or something.

The house itself is a feast for the senses with original artworks everywhere as well as shelves and shelves of books on a wide variety of topics. (The first one I pick up is Germaine Greer’s tome on “The Change,” the second a photo book of Tasmanian creatures.) The house’s surroundings - and Tasmanian landscape in general - is just plain dramatic. The colors are muted shades of greens and browns - it is a dry climate that is in drought - with wide expanses of rolling, scruffy hills. The trees are tortured-looking: stunted and twisted with strips of bark hanging about -- almost as though giant cats had been using them as scratching posts. The weather is mostly cool and breezy. I am told the occasionally icy wind is being sucked right up from Antarctica by a busy cyclone season off the coast of Queensland.

There is no municipal water system in this area, so my hosts get theirs from a tank that collects whatever rain falls, supplemented by the occasional purchase. Water is dear and treated like the valuable commodity it is. Showers are short and sweet. While waiting for it to turn hot, one is careful to collect flowing water in jugs for later use.

Good practice for us all, perhaps?


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