……Continued description of my journey in an email to a friend.
“After I left Bendigo, I thought I would head south. Such a contrast. Yellow and brown and so much dust. The animals are sitting near the waterholes – tired of pointlessly wandering for food. Whole tops of trees are blown over and hang with heads of dead leaves. Wind and brittleness from being dry I’m sure is the cause. The bark on the gums looks like they have been painted on to the landscape using a layer with an opacity of 60%. Their colour and stature is insipid. They seem frail and worn.
Castlemaine on the map caught my eye. I seemed to remember they had a farmers market, and I hit the jackpot…First Sunday of the month. I was only wearing a sarong and a little shoestring top and red thongs. 36 degrees when I arrived in Bendigo the evening before…and I wasn’t prepared for the goosebumps appearing so soon!. I managed to forage out my bushwalking vest from my day-travel area in my car. I didn’t want to have to do the whole unzip of the suitcase thing – but as I walked closer to the market, hand knitted bini’s, black leggings, fluffy scarves and black coats everywhere made me think I should have done the suitcase rummage.
Salty soft fresh hand-made feta made me instantly wished I lived in Victoria – regardless of the goosebumps which were now double goosebumps on my exposed arms. Soft green pistachio’s with skin splitting were scooped out of a box by a young woman with a hand knitted scarf, sundrenched working hands and Jackie Onassis sunglasses which couldn’t block the dreams in her eyes. Sweet date and lime chutney with just enough fire to leave a warm tingle on my tongue and lips – two jars of that one went into my silk carry bag! An old man apologised that he didn’t have any plain olives – only marinated ones from vats on a neighboring farm. His had all been lost in the fire. He said to come next year and he would have some then. Such optimism I felt in my chest. The artists filled a little alley and had their wonky trestles and children on checkered mats with colouring books. Glistening glass beads and brooches, wire skeleton birds stationary in lumps of wood, bulging bottoms and breasts on canvas and artists hoping to pack up less into their old rusty cars than they brought.
I thought about lunch, but it was a bit early so I wanted to see if the little shop at Guilford still had some hand spun wool. The yellow screen door squeaked then slammed – the spring broken in the 18 months since I was last through it. The door to the little wool cave was shut and the lady with an accent like Wallace on Wallace and Grommet said she was reorganizing things, and only accepting really top notch wool products from now on… and the wool store in Castlemaine had closed down so she could see a real opportunity now for her wool room to do really well. She had owned the store for 2 years and she said that she could really feel this was going to be a good year for opportunities for her. Such optimism everywhere.
Daylesford was windy. I so wished I had delved into my suitcase to find my cardy – or even my coat!.., but I thought I wouldn’t be long in the wind…just enough time to get from the car into my favourite café in the main street, for some pumpkin or lentil soup…and a dandy tea with honey… and a piece of crumbly gluten free cake with pineapple and nuts and dates and a big dollop of freshly whipped cream. I was looking through the menu and everything seemed to become quiet. The power had gone out. Nothing to boil water…heat up soup…run cash registers. A common conversation piece kept us all there for a while, but those who hadn’t ordered yet decided to leave – and that included me. Bummer. Oh well , an excuse for a drive up there another time. “