Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our Echo Experience

Note: I've had this post written for quite some time, but I've been having difficulty adding the pictures. And I'm still having difficulty, but I'm now posting the text anyway. Maybe there will be pictures some day. 

This Easter, we had the privilege of visiting Echo Station, northwest of Roma, as guests of Dave’s Uncle Allen and Aunty Barb, where the cattle roam and the sorghum grows, and kangaroos and emus are ordinary sights. 

Until now, my Queensland experience has been confined to the southeast corner, bordered by Dalby in the west and Maryborough in the north. As evidenced by these maps (which I know you can't see yet), Echo can hardly be called ‘far west’, but at least it has given this city girl a glimpse into life on the land.

There was no special occasion for this trip; we simply enjoyed spending time with family and being in the beautiful countryside. Thanks to the recent rain, everything was green and growing, with grass almost waist high in the paddocks. Uncle Allen commented that it hadn’t been this green since 1983. We went to church at Roma Presbyterian on Easter Sunday, Dave went out in the ute to check fences on Monday, and I discovered that the veranda of the (now unused) shearers’ quarters was a lovely place to go for some quiet prayer and planning time, but mostly we stayed close to the house and greatly benefited from a change of place and pace. It was great to have lots of family time together.   

We were unsure how the long drives and new environments would go with an eight-month-old, but our fears were unfounded. SP began the holiday by sleeping for over two hours between Brisbane and Dalby, and continued to be happy and adaptable for the vast majority of the trip. He loved having his Grandma around all the time, as well as Uncle Allen, Aunty Barb and two of their sons who were home for the holidays. Add in two dogs, a cat and a whole lot of outside space… he was in his element. He learned to crawl a couple of days before we left, and had lots of fun practicing.

I think we had unknowingly chosen a great age for such a trip. SP’s routine was fairly stable and fit easily into the slots of adult life. His growing ability to eat finger foods and to enjoy the flavours of adult food in mashed form made feeding him easier than it would have been earlier. He particularly enjoyed leftovers of Aunty Barb’s lasagne, mashed in the Thermomix, as a nice filling breakfast on the morning we set off home.

One of the things I love about visiting people, particularly women and mothers, is learning about the ways they organise their lives and their homes. This trip was no exception. Aunty Barb has raised five children to adulthood, so she knows a thing or two; the household runs like a well-oiled machine. The house itself has been lived in for many years, and must have felt small when it was full of growing children, but it’s well-organised and functional. Even in the few days since we arrived home, I’ve found that thinking of Echo has helped me to seek simple solutions to the difficulties I see in our little rental house.

Something I particularly noticed was how good everyone was at putting things away as soon as they had finished with them. As a result, the house was always tidy, although never sterile or stifled. I’ve never been very good at picking up after myself as I go, and it’s something I’ve been working on recently. I’d love our home to be like Echo in that regard.

Uncle Allen and Aunty Barb’s hospitality is also an inspiration to me. Despite already having a house full of guests, they invited a further nine visitors home after church on Sunday and produced an enormous and delicious lunch. I sometimes think that 20 minutes from church to our place is too far to ask people to travel, so I don’t invite them. Roma and Echo are about an hour apart, and yet people travel happily for the opportunity to have fellowship together. I can learn from this.

In another show of hospitality, we have left Echo not only with good memories, but also with Lemon Butter and vast amounts of Echo Beef mince and sausages. Yum!!

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to visit this special place, and am already looking forward to the next trip.

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