On Sunday we had a tour group we had to feed for lunch. This group was bigger than the others I had helped with and so it required extra preparation.
Alex, Julianne and I worked all morning--filling the bain maries, preparing tomato sauce bottles, cutting cabbage for coleslaw, and plating the cheesecake. When the food prep was under control I moved the menu and till to the bar area in the cafe. Yollana thought it would be a good idea to take cafe orders from the bar so I could double as a beverage server to the tour group. These were college kids so they were more likely to drink, I was told. I found out another reason they would be drinkers when Yollana gave me the tour group name to put on the sign. The University of Adelaide German Group would be our guests for lunch. I hoped they would be attractive. I hadn't seen anyone my age of the opposite sex in weeks, other than Matthew and other volunteers and I wasn't interested in those options.
My position behind the bar turned out to be very successful. I served twice as much beer to the cafe inhabitants simply because I was convenience in distance and thoughtful in asking. The German Group enjoyed the bar atmosphere too. I sold out of West End and Carlton completely and a few blokes bought bottles of wine to take back with them.
When the bus left it was half-past two. The relief of ending a successful tour lunch was great and so Yollana suggested we celebrate by having tea and cheesecake in the barn. Will, Yollana, the kids and us volunteers all sat down and thoroughly enjoyed the leftover Passionfruit Cheesecake that we had served the Germans. Ash liked it so much that he told Will he didn't want to share with him. Will tried to suggest that a full piece was too big for Ash but it was of no use. We all laughed a few minutes later when Ash was full after only a few bites. Will was patient and polite towards his son and though he had already had a piece of his own he was still happy to finish Ash's other half.
After cake, Julianne, Matthew, Alex and I washed dishes and put everything back in its place. Halfway through the washing Alex suggested that we go to Vivonne Bay for the evening. We asked Yollana if we could go after we cleaned the kitchen and she said we had earned a day at the beach after all of our hard work.
We finished with the dishes around five and quickly after we were all piled in Fiona the feisty Festa and headed towards Vivonne Bay. I suppose the most memorable part of the drive was that Will had drawn Matthew a map with instructions on how to get to the jetty. We all pointed to dozens of signs that pointed towards the jetty and with laughter we all admitted that we had no idea what a jetty was. This turned into a very silly conversation that lasted until we reached “the jetty.”
As it turns out a jetty is basically the aussie word for a pier. The jetty had lots of fishing boats all around it and we didn't feel like it was a welcome tourist spot so we walked passed it on to the beach.
The smell around us was very fishy, but not in a smelly way. I guess that's why this time when I looked at the sea I thought about food. I contemplated how the earth gives us nourishment naturally. As a farmer's daughter this was something I was familiar with. On land there is cattle, pork, chicken, kangaroo, buffalo, or whatever meat you fancy. There were ranches for making this meat edible and profitable and that was the world I came from. On the other hand, in the sea there is squid, fish, lobster, crab, oysters and other exotic delicacies such as caviar. I could smell the rawness of it. It was like realizing for the first time that seafood is an organic meal from nature too. It just doesn't come from dirt.
I thought about the blog posts I wrote a few years back about my experiences as a novice gardener. It had really brought my attention to all of the wonderful things about dirt. It gets wet and produces food. How fascinating it is to put a seed into dirt, top it off with water, and then wait as magic takes place and food is produced—not just any food, but real food that tastes better than anything you can buy at the store, food that's good for you and recommended by nutritionists. Nothing tastes better than fresh vegetables out of the garden. Especially fresh okra that gets fried within the hour of picking. It all starts with dirt and seed.
The ocean is similar to the magical world of gardening but yet it is altogether different. Rather than being mostly dirt and a little water, the ocean is all water and a little dirt. It stays wet and produces food. There are no weeds to fight with so you could say there is not as much labor. Then again, I've never tried to harvest oysters from the sea, either. I have learned that oyster shucking requires truck-fulls of hard working men just like wheat harvest does so maybe there is an equal amount of labor involved.
It's tough to say if one is better than the other. In the beginning of time God made land and saw that it was good. God also made water and saw that it was good too.
The four of us walked up and down the beach taking pictures and skipping rocks. We laughed at how great it felt to leave the property. We jokingly thought about not going back, but then did the mature thing and drove home.
We were very grateful to see that Will had made us a dinner of kangaroo nachos and leftover pork chops from the tour group meal. We thought we were in heaven. We hadn't seen that much meat in weeks. The four of us cleaned up what was left after Will, Yollana and the kids had filled their plates. Everyone left the table with a full belly.
After the kids went to bed we did dishes once again before settling into our nightly television watching routine. Alex and Julianne boiled water for tea and because there was no hot chocolate I decided to give tea another chance. The warmness of it was too tempting. While the others decided what movie to watch I decided tea was alright as long as it had a splash of milk. I felt pretty grown-up for thinking this. All my life I had been a breakfast outcast because I liked neither tea nor coffee. Now I was in a country full of people who drank tea and coffee at least twice a day, if not more. I was glad my tastebuds had matured and agreed to like the taste of tea. I couldn't wait to tell my mother. She would be so proud of me.