I take time, this morning, to breath deeply of the air, perfumed with gum trees and sunshine. I wake up to the sound of the magpies with their odd call – hollow and melodious – and the screech of the cockatoo. Eva and I sit down to breakfast, porridge and yogurt (yoghurt in Australia) and fruit for me, and get ready for another adventure. We start with the William Rickett’s sanctuary. Rickett lived with the aborigine people for a time and passionately felt a need to represent them to the world through his art. On a small forested preserve in the Dandenongs, Rickett sculpted a multitude of aboriginal children, men and women, as well as indigenous wildlife, and attached his sculptures to stone boulders throughout the preserve. The sculptures seem to grow from the rocks and are amazingly life-like.
See Eva's lovely face peeking out?
Fern shadows on the rock look almost surreal.
After wandering the grounds, we headed for Sassafras and a bite to eat at Miss Marples teahouse. But first we explore the small shops that line the street of this town. So much to see here: the wool shop where I find yarn, antiques, soap and a fresh shipment of wool hats, not yet priced. There is the Oracle, full of peaceful music, magical spells, crystals and rocks of every color and peace within its walls. Crème, serves liquid ginger and spiced nuts, along with gelato and other goodies. A toy store has a ceiling full of puppets ready to come alive. And there's a souvenir shop with shelves full of Australia.
But it is the tea shop that lures me away. A tea shop with more tea, cups and kettles than I have seen in my life. I buy a year’s worth of tea and wish I had a way to bring home a teapot or two. We wander into the garden shop secreted in a courtyard full of lovely things.. Eva finds a bird on a wire rod that is beautiful and the store owner finds another for me and we buy them both. Now, each time I look at that beautiful bird, I will have a memory of Eva and this wonderful day.
We sit down to eat at Miss Marples, named after the Agatha Christie detective that solved her share of mysteries. And the meal is delicious, surpassed only by the tea and scones served afterwards. Stuffed to the gills, we are off again, to the Grants Picnic Grounds were I am about to find a bird watcher’s paradise.
When we arrive, the store where the birdfeed is sold has just closed, but there are plenty of folks still feeding this wild birds with insatiable appetites. You can’t count them all: lorikeets, gullahs, cockatoos, crimson rosellas and king parrots. They fill the air with a kaleidoscope of colors. If offered an open hand full off seed, they will gladly eat out of your hand. A generous local gives me a handful and I am treated to first a female and then a male king parrot eating right out of my hand.
We leave the birds and drive to Alfred Nickolaus Gardens to visit a hidden pool criss-crossed by Japanese-like bridges. After hiking down a very steep trail, the surface of the water suddenly appears, reflecting the green of the dense trees and the deep sapphire of the sky and littered with leaves. I’m reminded of Monet and his grounds at Giverny.