April 10, 2007

# 126 aka Crayfish, a wedding and dawn on Kangaroo Island

It's long but that's only coz I haven't written and need to purge this here blocked mind o' mine. Also, relax coz there are photos and they're worth it... If you can't stand words, the option of scrolling down and perving on the photos is an obvious alternative to reading. PS Reading is good for you.

It begins: People in the state awake with expectancy as anticipation of rain - of any volume - creeps with the same momentum as inertia towards a brick wall. In all probability, it's going to be just another day.

Last night, those with in-the-know pedigree predicted a deluge. A deluge these days equates to some. And if it is to be a legitimate deluge perhaps some will feature the level of composure to eventually turn into a fair bit. Talking about the weather so early in the piece is often a bad sign, yet it is the undisputed champion of this rant. Well, I promise to talk about crustaceans, booze and shaving three hours from my usual wake-up time. But not just yet.

Two bags and enough kiddie equipment to block the hallway, which we packed yesterday, are ready for boarding. The calendar demands that we disappear over shallow straits of water using our car. It's an equation that demands careful consideration. I thank my wife for booking a ferry. Incidentally, the journey to the ferry begins around the same time the sun gets out of bed which is to say that it's bloody early for this, my alleged day 'off' work. Our baby shows no signs of concern or discomfort as we transfer her from an immaculate slumber into a seat in the car the size of a grown Smurf. I whisper into her ear that she may seek revenge at a later date then strap her in and smother her in blankets in an effort to subdue the chill that has crept without detection past the sleeping guards.

'It was thirty-odd degrees yesterday,' I mumble to no one in particular as the man-nipples stand horizontally to attention.

The tank is full, the windscreen is clean, darkness is tiring and daylight is positioning itself closer to the horizon in the east. I sense grandeur afoot in nature's canvas de jour as I find reverse gear.

It's moments like these I wish I were naked on top of a mountain if only to be able to say at a time in the future that I was.

We make our way to Willunga Hill before the majesty of this day appears in every mirror. I want to stop and capture it for eternity but time itself is against the idea; the ferry waits for no man. The man in control of the ferry waits for no one.

Aboard the vessel we shake hands with relatives and friends of relatives who are as keen for a white wedding as much as we are. Deep down, however, we sense the inevitable; the drought will be broken and the wedding could be the stuff of legend in the mould of Monsoon Wedding, only thirty degrees cooler. Nana leaps towards our baby at round about the same time we venture to the lengthening queue for overpriced caffeine in a cup made of cardboard.

My latte tastes identical to my wife's cappuccino. 'Now's not the time to get irate,' I think to myself as a flood of ideas on how to ruin the lady behind the counter's day initiate a reaction from the pulse in my right eyelid.

Peering out the window simultaneously with my sister-in-law, we confer about two dolphins which serenade the ferry with a flurry of underwater manoeuvres and above water aerobatics. I claim that Tourism SA is behind the campaign. It's the stuff of legend you often hear from people whom you have hardly any respect for. I can't wait to tell everyone.

Time passes. Now the ferry backs effortlessly into the docking bay. Memories of similar nautical prowess come flooding back; commercial vessels carrying all manner of humanity fresh from a day's exploration of The Great Barrier Reef as onlookers push to gawk at the skipper's adroitness with a hand-held device the size of a Walkman and a neck with rubber-like qualities.

We make our way down below and shove ourselves back into the car. The weather's favouring ducks, drakes and gumboots as every man, woman and land-lover competes to be the first road toll for the day. The scramble off the ferry makes Gladiators seem like an exercise in mind bending.

We drive through drizzle, rain and drizzle once more in the vicinity of 100 km/h for most of our journey. We are in the heart of Kingscote, the island's central location for humanity to converge, some sixty-odd minutes later. First port of call is a coffee shop-cum-newsagent. I feel like purchasing a trashy women's magazine, deliberately spilling some coffee on it and asking for my money back. I speak of the venture in a hushed tone to my wife's uncle who doesn't think it a money-making venture. I blow him off as being short of vision and lacking the staying power associated with persistence. We all hook into another caffeine-based beverage though I don't spill a drop. I see sense in cramming a caramel-something-or-other betwixt my upper and lower lips prior to the wedding as other members of our party begin the resentment process.

Time trickles through the hourglass of progress as the owner of the house we're about to inherit for the weekend shakes the respective hands of the men within our ensemble. A two-minute drive from the town's centre (it's a small place after all) is all it takes for us to be impressed with what we see. It's a large(ish) place by homosapien standards though the walls are ideally suited to a family of paperclips.

Identity changes are ordered on behalf of everyone. The women snap their fingers to transform into figures of exquisite beauty. I don a pair of black trousers and a grey silk shirt tailor made for me in under a day by a Vietnamese lady with talent. I justify to myself that there's no need to upstage the groom, so I don't bother trying. Throughout the collective metamorphosis our baby girl screams. Mum and dad decide the pitch in her voice isn't one of delight. Strategically, we rub our foreheads together.

'We'll walk,' we say in a dead-heat.

We push the pusher with a very miffed Little Miss Rain in mid banshee roar. There seems to be no respite in sight. A man checks the rain gauge in his front yard. My next move is playing out in slow motion before my very eyes.

'Could you direct us to the yacht club?' I request without the upturned nose often associated with such requests. His response drifts off into a haze much like lullabies after a couple of dozen beers. The gist is this: right, straight for a bit then cross the road.

'Much obliged chum,' I comment and wave my hand in front of my head as I bow (but do not curtsy).

We arrive at the yacht club about seven minutes later. Baby girl sleeps in her pusher as though held underwater by lead weights.

This particular yacht club is of the rectangular shed held together by bricks and mortar variety which reminds me of half-time pep talks in the change rooms during a Saturday football match at high school. There are no yachts as far as the eye can see, about twenty metres, as another batch of nature's precious liquid soaks our clothes. I reckon if we had greater depth of vision in the one-eighty-degree scope on offer there'd a similar tally of yachts.

I expect to see the groom in board shorts and a pair of thongs. Instead, I see the groom in a white pin-striped suit. He has a UDL can in his hand. I smile.

I hope that there's beer; drinkable beer, like Cooper's or Cascade, not that West End - or heaven's forbid any member of the Carlton United fraternity - shite.

I think to myself: what a wonderful world.

The crowd slowly builds and conversation turns to the weather: how the couple has chosen the perfect day to end the drought; how it's highly unlikely there'll be any sailing in yachts that don't exist; how the five black swans swimming twenty metres offshore and sinking their heads in the water chose the perfect day to see irate land-lovers etc.

The house speakers, which face outdoors, roar to a couple of decibels as the bride approaches. Like all brides, she radiates a potent concoction of substances: it's a curious blend of expectancy, rum and cola, and the primordial emotion of fear. The remaining members of the bridal party look like people normally do on the morning after a wedding. Oversized black sunnies seem out of sync with the white pinstriped suits yet somehow the blokes carry the look well.

A few tears down the cheek, a few instances of stuttering during the vows, a prolonged kiss on the lips, and it's all over.

As if spurred on by association with miraculous connotations, the rain seeks new souls to douse as it heads towards the mainland. There aren't any high-fives anywhere but then again there aren't any Americans either.

From the roof of the yacht club the photographer herds the guests into a position he determines to be perfect. He's able to capture the perfect moment perfectly in a perfect single frame.

'What a talent!' I think to myself, juggling figures of probability that the shot's not in focus or someone's left leg is missing in the composition or it's fucked in some other way. All this happens in my head as I'm not ready for a verbal stoush.

We are urged to return to the venue in two hours and to live dangerously on the temptations to be contained within. It's perfect timing as my bladder groans in total discomfort.

A short time later, after we retraced our steps 'home', we retrace our steps to the yacht club. Little Princess is fast asleep following a lengthy stint on the boob.

It's now 6:30pm. We're inside the reception venue sipping fake champers and/or Cooper's Pale Ale (nice to meet you, dear God) and nibbling on outstanding finger food which consists of a small variety of cold meat, a decent variety of soft and hard cheese, and a couple of different varieties of crackers and bread. Between airy conversations about this and that, I enter the power phase of my daily food/grog intake.

Little Princess remains fast asleep.

The phrase 'but the sign said all you can eat' is at the tip of my tongue should the Missus or anyone else take exception to my devotion to clearing the venue of its solids and liquids.

I'm gob smacked as I see the biggest crayfish this side of a Japanese film with cult following two tables away. Its size is enough to make me think about running outside and shoving a finger or two down my throat just so I can create the empty space in my stomach required to find this delicious beast a new home: me want crayfish, me want lots of crayfish!

Within minutes, each of the six elongated tables has two crayfish apiece of similar dimensions. I slide a paper plate to a rellie-in-law and perform a visual display with my eyebrows that defies gravity.

The paper plate returns with several chunks of white flesh. My precious!

The night continues with several other delicacies from the sea finding their way onto plates and into extremely satisfied bellies.

'The groom's a local fisherman,' someone clues me in. 'He caught the king prawns and crays himself. The oysters were bought on-the-cheap from a mate.'

Another Cooper's Pale Ale lands in my hands. I make the deduction that I don't care whether or not there is a heaven. I'm happy where I am.

The Little Miss screams.

'Au revoir, everyone!'

Saturday was spent at the newlyweds' place demolishing the leftovers from the night before. A barbie was the best way to shuffle the sea life off the mortal coil once and for all. Somehow, several members of the bovine sect also found their way onto the hot plate.

For dinner, we ventured to the local pub for a counter meal and chit chat. It was unanimous: what a mighty weekend!

It's now 10pm, Saturday. D, my wife's cousin, and his wife and baby son are about to leave the communal den for their final night's rest at their parents' house on the island.

'Wanna take photos of the sunrise tomorrow?' he says.
'Hell yeah,'
'All right. Don't forget to wind back your clock one hour. It's the end of daylight savings tonight. I'll see you at five-thirty.'

I ponder this plan for a few seconds.

'Hang on, mate,' I say as he stretches a foot through the open door. 'What time's sunrise?'
'Well, you'd better be here at four-thirty then, doncha think?'

He ponders this for a while. I assume he calculated the travelling distance the same way I did then subtracted an hour for the earlier sunrise the same way I did.

'Shit. Yeah, okay.'

The alarm wakes me at four. I turn it off at the second chime then tiptoe to the kitchen to make myself an instant coffee in the dark. Although the environment is foreign, I'm a seasoned dog. The process remains the same; I'm a fucken pro at this!

I stick my head outside and decide that it's quite warm for four-thirteen; only one jumper should suffice the rigours of the morning.

At precisely four-thirty, D's silhouette appears through the vertical blinds.

'Ya ready?'

We arrive at the lagoon, the same one we saw and took shots of during a brief driving adventure at dusk yesterday, at about five-twenty. The moon is nowhere to be seen. It's obviously cloudy. It's likely that the sunrise will disappoint any would-be amateur photographers who woke up at four to be here.

We each take baby steps under the guidance of a torch. There are crunches and squelches galore all around us as the salt fuses with the mud and then fuses with the soles of our shoes. The tripods are erected, we take aim for whatever the automatic focus takes a fancy to, open the shutter for about as long as it takes to empty a bladder, and observe the proof of the pudding. We're appalled by the taste.

We wait.

What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and we are relieved it is the sun.

Here's a sample of the first hour:






And the second:




It ends: All told, I stayed awake for nineteen-and-a-half hours that day, including the sight-seeing day on Sunday with the family, and the long drive home. What's more, I got the six-odd hours of sleep I needed to function as coherently as required on Monday. I don't regret a single minute of our experience on Kangaroo Island. In fact, I'm richer for it and recommend it to anyone.



Under the Radar said...

Hey mate - due to my tentative toehold on the net at the mo. I couldn't quite manage to read to the end (I'll read through it later when I don't have to go out). I loved the photos, though. Hello to the family, too!

Kaufman said...

Mate, I guarantee that it's a cracking read from wherever you happened to have left it. Place a bookmark in your mind and get back to it whenever you have time.

Cheers for the hello to the family. We're all doing well and presently enjoying a long weekend at home.

Thanks be to Jesus.

Hope you're doing well over in J-land and that you don't have too many things to pack.

benjibopper said...

Is that snow?

Kaufman said...

Na, BenjiB, it's salt. I'd go into the whys and the wherefors in greater detail but, alas, I have no understanding of such matters (which some might point out is the ideal qualification to go into more detail about such matters).

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

7.19am - Bullsye!

I wonder what the Yacht Club types would make of your online musings.

Before long you will be owning a Yacht. But I hope that you equip the yacht with some kind of long range weapon, and not just cheese and biscuits.

benjibopper said...

"sometimes understanding the whys and wherefores limits rather than enhances appreciation of beauty."
-Dan Quayle

Kaufman said...

Thanks for comparing something I said to something Dan 'The Quayle Monster' Quayle said. Yeah. Ta. Cheers. Good on ya. Thanks a flamin' million, Bopper.

That whole association-with-losers/politicians gets on my goat.

'Enough with the bleating already!' - Zoidberg

Kaufman said...

Toast: I think the yacht club is a front for a drinking club. There were no yachts, ships, boats or pedalos (sp ?) anywhere. Perhaps deception is one-ninth of the truth.

A cheese and biscuits harpoon gun would be handy. I could feed the homeless who find permanent residence on jetties AND do some serious damage to seagulls. Win-win.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Hell yeah.

Count me in. I'll stoke the boiler and plunge Gouda into The Barrell.

We can throw bottles of Jacob's Creek and Blue Nun at the Harbourmaster.

That's living the dream

Mob said...

I love the image of your crayfish rampaging through some doomed Japanese megalopolis.

Lovely sunrise.

geoff said...

"I hope that there's beer; drinkable beer, like Cooper's or Cascade, not that West End - or heaven's forbid any member of the Carlton United fraternity - shite."

Aaaah Country weddings have a unique quality of their own.

Kaufman said...

Toast: Sweet. Smoke a kipper for me and set the egg timer to sixty seconds. I'll bring Nic Cage with me before we set sails for the seas of cheese.

Mob: I had you in mind when penning the giant crayfish imagery. Thanks for reading that bloody long diatribe. ;)

Geoff: I had a West End hard day's draught wedding in Port Pirie once. Since then I've had to decline invitations to two weddings based on the assumption that there would be poorly chosen liquid refreshments. Not only are my tastebuds and reputation at risk but the potential for human carnage fuelled by drunken stupidity at the hands of inferior brewers is highly likely.

Luckily, this country wedding had the green gold at hand. Actually, I think Kangaroo Island is Cooper's country. :)