Notes on month three

by Alissa

Last week we reached our three month mark in Oz. I’m starting to feel it again–the sense of wonder over being here that I had as we flew in for the first time over smoke laced gum forests to this strip of green and gold at the edge of the sea. The past few days I’m really seeing the landscape and liking being in it. We’ve had a couple of great beach walks lately, and today a swim in the Merewether ocean baths. This was my first real swim–goggles and laps and all–in a giant salt water pool right next to the crashing surf. No riptide. No bluebottles. Ace and Octavia played in the kiddie pool. It was perfect.

We plugged in my sewing machine–the beautiful Bernina Ace gave me before we moved to Canada that I sewed quilts and puppets on before I went out and got a job. It says 100-240 v on the back, so I knew it probably wouldn’t fry, but when I switched it on and it worked, one more happy piece of life fell into place here. The lovely English woman I followed from playgroup to playgroup invited us over to borrow some little girl dress patterns and check out their Christmas tree. They went with the amazing Christmas tree delivery service I found out about from T. Apparently they bring a truck full of trees to your door and you choose right there. The tree smelled right, but the trees that grow here are long-needled and shaggy looking. This year we’re scrapping all expectations of a North American-style Christmas and seeing what happens.  So far, we have a vase full of fallen eucalyptus branches from the garden and an invitation to a pool party. Maybe, just maybe, I will sew a Christmas sundress for the girl.

We are warming up to the holidays here, trying to figure out how they fit in this climate. It’s a little strange knowing that the rest of you are bundled up in mittens and coats, drinking mulled wine and getting all cozy indoors while it snows.

I made turkey meatballs for O on Canadian Thanksgiving and neglected to inform our coincidental dinner guests of the occasion. We had a late but nice American Thanksgiving dinner with the neighbours, including the girl from Montana upstairs. It was hot and sunny out, but we roasted a turkey anyway. It was good, but different, lacking fresh cranberries and brussels sprouts. Last weekend I talked with a woman from the UK who finally gave up on a traditional Christmas after 20 years of trying to recreate the magic of her childhood it for her more-or-less indifferent children. She seemed delighted to finally be free from the nostalgic event shackling her to her stove in the summer heat. Now they keep a fridge full of salads and go swimming.

On my 32nd birthday, I broke my cardinal rule of only trying to do one thing in a day. We collapsed and went home after two morning errands. O had a cold. Ace took her out and fed her junk food before I had a chance to. I was melodramatic. After regrouping at home for the afternoon, Ace baked me a beautiful chocolate orange torte we had a celebratory dinner with friends, which was in part an exercise in seeing whose toddler could be crankier at the end of the day, and in part a delicious feast. A has become my closest friend here–we realize we have more and more in common every time we meet. She’s thoughtful and honest and frequently picks up old threads of conversation to clarify something or to be sure she’s doing justice to the subject. She stayed up late sewing me a birthday present that deserves its own post. The day after my birthday here it was still my birthday in America. The joyous greetings came rolling in, and Ace bought me beautiful groceries. I think I like having a double birthday.

In other news, Ace is laying the groundwork for what will be either her lifelong surfing habit or aversion.

My people, learning to surf at Bar Beach. She looks cool, but check out the death grip she’s got on his hand.