I won’t say ‘best’ or ‘favourite’, because that just opens the door for me to obsessively rack my brain (is there something I’m missing? There’s something I’m missing) to be sure I have THE BEST, MOST ACCURATE LIST POSSIBLE. But these are five things, that easily come to mind, that never fail to add a bit of joy to my life here each and every week:
There may not be the greatest variety of meals in station life but the quality is undisputed. Homemade ice cream every night if you want it, made from pure goat’s milk collected just that morning. Though we have pigs, and the pork is lovely, it is, unsurprisingly, the beef that has me truly ruined.
Most of my favourite cuts are actually the offal; the bits that some people don’t even consider fit for consumption. The kidney. The liver. The tongue. The balls, though those are a special treat, only up ‘for grabs’ (heh, see what I did there?) when we’re castrating mickys.
But my very favourite part is the complete opposite of offal: The fillet (also called the tenderloin). When we do ‘a killer’ (kill and butcher a cow for the house), PJ will cut me off a small piece from the best part of the fillet that I’ll eat raw, while it’s still warm off the beast. It melts in my mouth like fine sushi. I’m pretty sure my tongue has an orgasm.
“The moon a silver, cheshire smile in a sea of black and gold unsullied by city lights.”
That was how I described the outback night sky in this post. A friend wrote me afterward, to call that line poetry (thanks, John), and to warn me he was likely to steal it (I’m watching you, John).
I was pretty proud of the line myself but it still does the evening outback sky no justice. None. Not even remotely.
And the sunrises. And sunsets. The sky here owns a palette that contains colors I didn’t even know existed. And it uses them EVERY DAY.
And even when the sun’s not rising or falling (or absent entirely, allowing you an unobstructed view of the entire bloody milky way), the sky here is just. . epic. Constantly. It’s like someone took the normal sky, put it in Photoshop, pumped the brightness and contrast up, and then put it back again.
There’s just something about having animals around that feels right. You step out for a coffee and, just on the other side of the fence, cattle saunter by at their relaxed pace. Goats pull up and, as a unified collective, suddenly stop to stare at something. You follow their gaze to see two wallabies going at it like drunken college girls who’ve just found out they’ve both been rooting the same guy. But with back-flips.
You hop on the four-wheeler and an excited pup jumps on the back to join you. You jog up the road and a kangaroo bounds past in the bush at your side. You walk to turn on the water pump and a troupe of piglets dart out from under a truck, their ears flopping with every bouncing hoof fall. (I haven’t decided on an accurate word for the sound they make. It is not a squeak, nor a grunt. It’s definitely not ‘oink’. It’s more like ‘snork’. But smaller, and cuter.)
Maybe it’s because there’s too many of us, or that a lot of us are assholes a lot of the time, but I just like being outnumbered by non-human mammals for a change. Even Pig-pig, who WILL NOT GET HER FUCKING HEAD OUT OF THE ROAD FOR ME TO FEED HER. I thought pigs were supposed to be smart, dammit.
I know we have birds back in the city, technically, but there’s a rather significant world of distance between a pigeon hovering overhead to threaten your windsheld with feces and a wedge-tail eagle you didn’t realize was in that tree beside you launching itself into majestic flight.
There are the black cockatoos, whose jarring song always comes out of nowhere. I’ll look up, startled, and they’ll soar past; always black, liquid shadows in the sky, no matter the time of day. And budgies that dart back and forth like airborne schools of fish. They have an illusion of shifting colors as they twist and turn, blinking blue and white and shimmering emerald green.
But my favorite are the kite hawks, who soar the sky serenely back and forth all day, their shadows drifting across across our lawn like nature’s own screen saver.
The steady beat their hooves pound into the red earth reaches my ears before anything is seen. I look up. Anticipation. A whinny and they clear the ridge. A head is thrown, legs buck back. The sun makes their sweat-matted fur glisten in shades of matte black, chestnut brown, and vanilla cream. Underneath, pure muscle. Strength and beauty and joy on four legs that can gallop for fun five times faster than I, even in my very wildest dreams, could ever sprint. They are perfection.
If I ever get sick of watching those fierce, beautiful beasts storm in, it will surely mean I’m dead inside.