Sunday, 7 December 2008

A gorgeous and happy day

Sunday was the sort of day that makes the heart glow. I went by train to the Blue Mountains to visit some dear friends, and to celebrate J's 70th birthday. My friends live in Adelaide now. It is not often that we see each other these days. While we ring each other and exchange emails, it is not as good as seeing each other in person. As their daughter lives in Katoomba with her husband and two small daughters, my friends are enticed to this side of the country from time to time. When they have visited for the births of their granddaughters, I have gone by train to see them for a few hours.

M and I have known each other from our university days. We both moved to Canberra and had our families there. We were always very close friends, sharing some tragedies and joys. After some of our babies were born, we were colleagues as well as friends and had a wide circle of mutual friends resulting from work. They were wonderful to me when I had my times of troubles, and were with me when I remarried. We shared a love of classical music, a passionate interest in politics, and of literature and art. They are truly erudite. We explore Asian cooking together, including a never to be forgotten meal when I cooked curries, and followed the recipe for one of the dishes using the recommended 6 teaspoons of chili powder without knowing the heat of this batch of chili. Even though I rinsed the sauce off and started again it was fat too hot to eat - and the other guests did not like hot food - we'd forgotten to check when we invited them! What a disaster! We still laugh about it.

When I moved to Sydney we saw each other less frequently, but at that stage I visited often. But after a few years, my friends moved to Adelaide. M felt the cold of Canberra very acutely, so they moved to Adelaide where their son and his family live. I'd rather have the cold, myself. I manage to visit Adelaide a few times, but since my spouse has become more frail, it is difficult to have time away. The last time we saw each other was at the funeral of our dear friend Viv, at the beginning of September. It was an occasion of great sorrow, but it was good to be together in our sorrow.

When we heard of this present visit, another good friend and former colleague had the idea to take them all out to lunch. She came up from Thirroul, another friend came from Canberra, and I hopped on an early bus to get to Central Station,where we all met and caught the train together. We had two hours of conversation all the way there,  and another two hours on the return trip. These friends were in New York, with another two friends, during the last weeks of the presidential election campaign. How I wished I'd been there too.

Katoomba was cool, then had a ten minute downpour and then the sun came out. Last time I was there it was seven degrees, with an exceedingly low fog, which dripped down on us. It was really icy. I love the trip there and back, (apart from all the revolting graffiti along the way). Last time the wattles were flowering. Around where I live the gardens range from tiny to non-existent, and so to see all these ferns, eucalypts, wattles and wild flowers was a great joy. This time the jacarandas were all flowering, and I noted that the blackberries were flowering too. They are a weed in Australia. The country is so steep, rocky and precipitous. The train has to climb for quite a while, and then it runs along the top of it all. As well as all the flowers and trees, there were lots of tourists to observe.

We had a lovely time admiring and playing with the granddaughters, and a very enjoyable lunch, and lots of talking. I managed to get some good photos of them all, and would put some here if I could work out how to do so. (I tried last night, to no avail. There must be a trick to it...) It was so good to see them. I sit here writing and reflect on the sheer pleasure of it, and hope that we see each other again soon. Good friends are a true blessing.

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