Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Nov 17 2001

Yesterday was a busy, fun day. Simon’s mum drove u…

Yesterday was a busy, fun day. Simon’s mum drove us over to the Swan River valley, which isn’t in truth much of a valley at all and only seems to have one side to it. we stopped off at a chocolate factory. I had envisioned a huge complex, chocolate-coloured smoke belching out of huge smokestacks and the smell of chocolate, indeed a thin film of sweet dust covering everything in sight, sort of like a Chernobylesque aftermath of a huge chocolate meltdown.

Instead it was just one largish building with a couple of rooms; one in front where there were several different kinds of chocolates for sale, and a window looking on a rather smaller room where a surly-looking fellow who apparently enjoyed sampling his work spread thick chocolate cream onto dirty platters, after which he would sprinkle nut slices onto the platter. Then he mashed the nuts into the pan with surprising force, causing us to take a step back from the window. I think there was serious job-related stress involved there.

I bought a large sackful of chocolates and we drove on to Western Australia’s olderst church, the All Saints church. Oddly enough, All Saints was the name of the church our family went to for a period of time when I was in junior high school. It was located in a posh part of Winter Park, Florida, and I’m sure that the only reason we went there was to feel we belonged to a higher class than we actually belonged to. The kids were mostly spoiled blond types and I was pretty much kicked out of confirmation class because I took issue with just about everything they tried to teach me there.

Anyway, the WA All Saints seemed much more innocuous, just a small brick building in the middle of nowhere, on the banks of the much smaller-looking Swan River. We got out and looked at the surrounding graves, then walked down to the river followed by thousands of flies. Inside the church itself, Simon spent 50 cents to play organ music that I could have gone without hearing. Outside the church’s windows was a beautiful view across the valley to the hills beyond, and I imagined several generaltions of bored churchgoes vying for the window seats so that they could have something other that the boring sermons to concentrate on. This is why most churches have stained glass windows rather than transparent ones, I am convinced. It kept your gaze hostage inside the building.

Our next stop was Bell’s Rapids, which also happened to be the site of the bush fires I flew over a couple of days ago on my way in from Sydney. The blackened hills were still smoking as we made out way down to the river, which was quite low. Simon tried to skip rocks across the muddy surface while his mum stayed up on the wooden bridge, her shoes unfit for rock climbing. The sun reflected off the water just so, and I took several nice photos. Unfortunately we also discovered a bit of other people’s rubbish, in the form of a tennis ball and an empy coke bottle, floating in the river. Simon gave the bottle to some rubbish truck people who were lingering in the vicinity, and we kept the tennis ball.

Next was the cheese factory, which was just like the chocolate factory except for four important differences: First of all, it was cheese. Secondly, the cheese-making room was empty and we weren’t able to watch the cheese being made. Thirdly, we were able to sample the cheese on trays, and fourth, the sexy fellow who made the cheese was portrayed in pictures from newspaper articles and in a photo on the wall of him and his product. *drools simultaneously over cheese and cheesemaker*

After cheese, of course wine must follow, and so we proceeded to the Houghton Winery, a lovely setup with rolling green lawns flush with afternoon sunlight and low wooden buildings. Inside we were treated to several wines, three whites, three red and port. I finished every sample, while Simon merely took a sip and poured the rest into a waiting used-wine urn. I would have kept going but a large group of Asian tourists spilled in, ending our tasting session, so I wobbled back out to the car, and we went to pick up Simon’s brother David, who had just finished his exams.

While we waited we walked around the school campus and Simon pointed out some of the buildings, including the huge stone chapel, and some of the teachers, whom he recognized from his own days there. It’s really a beautiful campus, but I don’t think I could stand being made to wear a suit and tie everywhere I went.

After we got back Ryan came over and we piled in to his 1974 Datsun, which smelled delightfully familiar (my first car was a 1977 Datsun 810), and we headed down to the cinema to see The Man who Sued God. It was a good, solid film, and I enjoyed it immensely. Billy Connoly was good as usual, and it manipulated the audience’s emotions in such a way as to remain fresh without too much Spielburgesque puppeteering of atmosphere.

After the movie we got some junk food and headed down to the beach. It was evening by then, and all we could see of the ocean were the lights of ships and buoys, as well as a huge spotlight outlining the spread of clouds above us. It was really nice,. I haven’t driven around late at night with friends since high school, really. Back then Shawn and I would go driving around for no apparent reason, and this felt a lot like that, only now I’m pretty sure my parents aren’t calling the police.

Later on today we’re going down to the river to do some more sightseeing. It’s kind of cloudy today, so the beach probably wouldn’t be such a good idea. Whatever we do, I’m sure it will be fun.

posted by Poagao at 4:01 am  

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