A whole new world. I think that was the song. The lyrics keep popping up in the back of my mind constantly. There is one slight difference however. That was a Disney song and my name ain't Jasmine (although there are some that may think I am a bit of a princess) and Aladdin is not whisking me off on his magic carpet...not yet anyway.
No, before there are any dazzling sights to behold, we have several months of work ahead of us to create our little paradise here down under in Queensland. After surveying the plot of land we are planning to turn into our peaceful new home surrounded by eucalyptus forest and cane fields, the reality of what it will take to get from here to there has hit me over the head like a wayward boomerang at full speed.
The ground is hard and crunchy and the rain is no where in sight. I was tempted to take a spade and see what happened when I tried to drive it into the ground, but I knew the answer without even trying. My organic dream garden is a way off yet. First things first. We need to get the house built and worry about the landscaping and gardening later. For now, I will have to set that part of the dream aside. On a positive note, there is a very well supplied Farmer's Market every Thursday here in Maryborough that impressed me the other day so that will head up the Thursday morning "to do" list each week.
There was a wide range of produce and interesting vendors participating. A number of ex-pats selling their unique food and crafts. A German woman who had found her little slice of paradise here selling a variety of olives from her own grove. She said she had grown tired of the crowds and traffic in Black Forest town she hailed from and was much happier in Oz. If her yummy assortment of flavoured olives were any indication, I would say she had found her niche.
A young Turkish fellow had a stall where he was baking fresh "Turkish breads" that looked more like foccacia pizzas to me, the aroma of the feta cheese, roasted tomato and olive toppings was impossible to resist, so lunch was decided right then and there. As it was only 9 am, it was wrapped in brown paper and would wait until later. I was elated at another stall when a young Thai woman had the efforts of her own organic garden available for sale and her veggies were so beautifully arranged and displayed it was clearly a labour of love for her. I nearly danced a jig when I spied three perfectly fresh bundles of Cilantro, every stem and leaf pure perfection. It was the one item I had set out to find that day that I was sure I would have difficulty finding. I had a notion to make a large Quinoa Salad with sweet potatoes and fresh corn and black beans and the Cilantro was a necessary ingredient. So, thanks to her, mission accomplished.
I had a little more difficulty finding what I thought would be a no-brainer - the black beans. They had navy beans, kidney beans, white beans...but not a black bean in sight. Red kidney beans would have to do. In the end it mattered not, but you can be sure I will be buying a case of the damn things if I find them in my travels. It was also curious to me that all the canned beans had sugar added in the processing. Looks like I may have to start cooking my own from scratch, which leads me to another dilemma. Cooking. The house we are staying in presently is a classic old Queenslander style house (shown pictured above). If you don't know what that is, they are built on stilts, so the air circulates under them and they generally have big porches all around the front and back and the windows are left open (sans screens - geckos are my new friends!) for the air to blow through. Some do have air-conditioning but ours does not. So, the last thing you want to do is fire up a hot oven or stove any time past 9 am or much before 6 pm, so planning menus and cooking time is crucial to prevent overheating the house and more importantly...yourself!
Early evening is spent with a cool drink on the porch watching the sun go down over the horizon and observing hundreds of colourful birds and the emerging flying foxes as they appear at dusk. Dinner is enjoyed after that when the temperature goes down. There is air conditioning in the bedroom but so far we have not needed to turn it on at night but it is still spring here in the southern hemisphere with summer just around the corner. It will hopefully give me time to acclimate before it arrives and challenges my internal Canuck thermostat.
Lots to learn. Lots of change. It is, without a doubt, a whole new world.
A whole new world
Don't you dare close your eyes
A hundred thousand things to see
Hold your breath - it gets better
I'm like a shooting star
I've come so far
I can't go back to where I used to be
lyrics by Tim Rice