Wayne's house was quite opposite of Graham's. He had a huge veranda that could easily host a small wedding. It was all wood and in the center there was a huge table that held all nine of us quite easily. Everyone else was already at the table chatting when we got there. Tonight there were new faces, though. We met Graham's volunteer replacement for Danny. She was a German girl named Sarah. Maggie instantly asked her questions about which part of Germany she was from but Sarah seemed to be less of a conversationalist than the rest of us.
We also met two of Graham's close friends from Kingscote. Archie, a middle-aged woman, and her daughter Linda. I suspected Linda to be in her late teens but was surprised to find out later that she was only twelve. The two of them were very pleasant and Archie won our affection when she told us she had made desert.
Eating at Wayne's felt like an unformal fancy dinner. (I know that is an oxy-moron, but hear me out.) First, Wayne made sure every guest had a full glass of wine to start with. He then brought out soup and served each of us a bowl. I had just tasted the soup when he brought out a cheese platter, followed shortly after by a vegetable platter. Maybe it was the huge table but I felt quite mature to be at this dinner. On the other hand, the reality was we were outside in the cold and I was starting to shiver.
Being the hunger-driven volunteers that we are, our side of the table didn't feel full after one bowl of soup so we dove into the cheese and veg trays. I was trying to be polite but I was ravenous and I feared the soup wouldn't stay with me until breakfast. Thankfully, I watched as my piers also took seconds and thirds on the veg trays. I did likewise until Wayne came out with a new pot of something. How sily we all felt when we realized this was a several course meal and soup was only the beginning. I then feared I might have ate too much soup. If this went on very long I'd have to pace myself to survive. It seems like the other volunteers had the same realization, because after that we all took small portions and denied seconds.
The second dish Wayne served us was a type of gulosh. It consisted of carrots, several types of beans and a thick tomato sauce. Before I could finish my serving Wayne had refilled our wine glasses and placed palette cleansers in front of us. To be honest, the palette cleansers were one of my favorite parts. One bowl contained cashews and pistashios and the other was mixed dry fruit. The dry fruit was unlike what I had previously had in America. I asked him what types of fruits were in but he said he didn't know because it was storebought. There were definitely different flavors besides the regular raisins and cranberries that seemed to be so popular back home.
Round three was very nice. Our bowls were taken away and replaced with plates full of a linguine mixture of bacon, prawn and cream-style corn. The corn really brought a nice pop of flavor to the pasta. There was a light olive oil and garlic butter sauce on top that made for a really nice dish.
This time Graham refilled all of our wine glasses while Matthew and Pierre went to the kitchen to help Wayne with the next course. In the meantime the women stayed at the table chatting about this and that.
“How do you know Grahams?” Maggie asked Archie
“We go way back. I used to work for him about fifteen years ago, then he helped me get a job in Kingscote. My daughter and I live there now and Graham and I have remained close friends. We try to visit each other every few weeks or so.”
Archie was a pleasant woman with krimpy hair and glasses that matched Grahams. She had been mostly quiet throughout the meal, sharing an occaisional private laugh with Graham. Throughout the meal she had a smile on her face and she seemed to really enjoy listening to those of us who chatter more than she.
Next we quizzed Sarah.
“When did you start working with Graham?”
“I arrive yesterday and worked the evening and today we worked as well.” She had a small voice. Her English was good but maybe not quite as good as Maggie's. She was very petite with a short blonde haircut.
“What all did you do?” I wanted to know more about the volunteer life at Graham's.
“Yesterday I helped harvest the honey.”
Maggie and I were totally into that answer. “Did you get stung?”
“Only once or twice but it did not hurt so bad as I remember when I was young. It does not feel as bad as wasp sting.”
I was thoroughly impressed. I would like to try the honey harvesting but I'm not sure if I would voluntarily get stung by bees. I was trying to decide if it would be worth it when the boys came out with phase four.
The contents of my plate consisted of a piece of chicken breast covered in cheese and wrapped in bacon. Pierre told me the proper name was “Chicken Camembert.” Apparently camembert is a type of cheese. Of course, the Frenchie knew which cheese was which. I wanted to be that cultured some day. The chicken, cheese and bacon made for a mouth-exploding combination. It was a rich cheese and that made each bite very succulent.
I might have said phase four was my favorite but that would be excluding Archie's homemade desert. Just when I thought I couldn't eat anymore, Archie brought out fresh plates with her specialty all over them. Cheesecake crumble topped with fresh strawberries. What made the cheesecake extraordinary was the fact that the crust consisted of crushed up macadamia nuts. How blessed I felt to have tasted such delicacies.
By this point in the night we had all had several glasses of wine. Paired with the food, we were still relatively sober. That was, until Wayne surprised us with a bottle of heaven. It wasn't wine but it wasn't a liquer either. It was a Kangaroo Island original called “Honey Mead.” It's contents were created at the honey farm up the road. Graham helped harvest the honey that went into the drink. We each were poured a very small amount of the drink. I soon found out that it was because the drink is so sweet you won't want much more than that. Nevertheless, the drink was amazing and I loved it. I loved it even more because before tasting it, the group made a toast to me and my birthday that was coming up in just a few short days. How sweet it was to share a drink with good friends for my special day.
The sweetness soon blurred into a beautiful melody. It would be poetic if I was talking about our laughter and conversation, but I'm actually referring to a tune Wayne played on his organ. We all moved inside and attempted to name the tune he was playing, though no one could, not even Wayne.
Inside we sat around Wayne's massive fireplace and enjoyed more good conversation. When Wayne stopped playing the organ I could hear the old country music playing in the background. Matthew and I tried to guess the name and artist of each song before the other.
The night ended in a beautiful way. Wayne handed Sarah, Maggie and I each a small felt box. He winked and told me happy birthday when he presented me with mine. I looked down and saw a beautiful sterling silver necklace with a kookaburra on it. I was elated. How sweet it was to receive such a gift. I decided that would be my only birthday gift this year so I gave Wayne a big hug and told him how much it meant to me. He was so sweet for thinking of us and even more so for befriending us. My necklace would remind me of his kindness and I would wear it throughout the rest of my trip.