Our walking boots, once muddy, are collecting dust now. Not from lack of use, but from tramping the familiar bush trail up into Mount Majura, watched by kangaroos and scarlet robins.
Kangaroos re-enter our lives as we walk into the Mt Majura nature reserve at the end of our street
We’ve been back in Australia two weeks, and in our Canberra home a week now. The 71 kg of luggage we managed to check in successfully for all but the last leg of our journey is back in the wardrobes and cupboards. We now wonder what all that other stuff in those same cupboards is for, having lived without it for eighteen months. Driving too feels a little bizarre and we are leaving the car in the garage a lot more than we used to, choosing the bus instead. The sun is startlingly bright as are the autumn colours against the clear blue sky.Two columns have appeared in our brain, marked "Edinburgh" and "Canberra", as, despite ourselves, we make comparisons about transport, weather, food, the economy and the like.
Niece Catherine and Justin sign the register
After a two-day stopover in Bangkok, we arrived in Brisbane with the worst of jet lag behind us. But the jet lag was replaced by a deeper sensation of stepping out of a time machine. We joined in the celebrations as Catherine and Justin, whose engagement party we enjoyed just before stepping on the plane to Edinburgh in November 2007, signed the marriage register. Babies we'd farewelled are now busy with play dough. Other entirely new ones have appeared looking smug and wise. All in all, we were kept well occupied catching up with Queensland family developments.
Geoff as decorated by great-nephew Cooper
Nephew Michael and and great-nephew Matthew, the long and the short of it
Chris meets great-niece Siana for the first time
Our youngest relative, great-nephew Isaac, rehearses for his aunt's wedding along with doting parents and grandparents
Neighbours Kate and Bryce brought both their cars to the airport to contain us and our luggage. They then fed us shepherd's pie and apple crumble as we came down to to earth. Thanks to Graham, our house sitter, we walked back into a house pretty much as we left it. Our time is now taken up with a round of appointments: everything from dentists to mechanics to cardiologists, and honing our list of things to do.
Friendships remain and flourish. When we turned up at our two churches last Sunday, we were welcomed warmly. Geoff was prepared with his speech, which he took from his pocket on cue, and read, "It is good to be back."
In a few weeks, we'll be heading off to Melbourne to collect the mountain of mail that Geoff's brother, Robert, has heroically collected and dealt with while we've been away. On the way there and back, we'll visit friends and catch up with more family in the Riverina, Gippsland and the south coast of New South Wales.
Two cards stand on our mantle piece. One given to us in Edinburgh has a heap of hands waving goodbye. The other is a welcome home card. These two worlds and circles of friends intersect in our thoughts and prayers in this time of transition. They remind us of the richness of our experiences, memories and dreams.
The first rosellas to come for a feed on our return
This is the last of our regular epistles. We've enjoyed preparing them. Thank you for keeping us company by reading them. Who knows, maybe from time to time, we'll send you another morsel or two.