This morning I was standing at the kitchen window looking out at the snow -covered backyard. It’s been two weeks since our last snowstorm but there was so much accumulation that it hadn’t yet melted in spite of a couple of 50 degree days . As I stood there , I noticed a squirrel sitting on the top rail of our wooden deck. His bushy tail was fluttering in the breeze as he too appeared to be lost in contemplation . As I watched , he stood up on his hind legs, folded his forelegs across his chest and tucked his paws into his armpits ! Exactly as a human does when he is feeling cold. I could almost hear him thinking ” When is this winter going to end ? !!” He held his pose for a couple of minutes , then scampered down to the deck and out of my sight .
Luckily for me , I won’t have to think about the winter much longer . Early tomorrow , we take off on a trip to Australia and New Zealand. It’s a trip that has me excited , even more excited than I was about the cruise to Alaska that we went on last year. Australia and New Zealand are about as far as you can get from the U.S ; the climate and the geography could not be more different and even though the people speak the same language they are different from us . It should be comfortable and interesting at the same time . By the way , one of the first things I’m going to check out is whether, in the Southern hemisphere, the bath water really swirls down the drain in the opposite direction !! (LOL)
On past trips , I never read up on the history of the places we were visiting . When we visited the Doge’s palace in Venice , I found myself wishing I knew a little more about Venetian history and I promised myself I’d bone up on it once we got back . That was eight years ago and I still haven’t done so . This time I’ve already read most of a book on Australian history and plan to complete it on the flight going over. It’s a 5 -1/2 hour flight to L.A and then another 14 hours to Melbourne so I should have plenty of time to finish my read . ( LOL) Already , I can see how this pre-reading of history gives a deeper understanding of the places one visits and enables one to pick which sights to visit . For instance , knowing about the First Fleet and Australia’s beginnings as a penal colony has aroused in me the desire to visit the Immigration Museum in Melbourne . The interactive display there gives museum goers a chance to experience what it was like to take passage on one of the square riggers that sailed to Australia in the 1800’s.
I haven’t yet started reading about New Zealand so I find myself more excited about Australia than about N.Z.. Perhaps , after I do so, my feelings may change . Friends who have been to New Zealand tell me it is one of the most beautiful ( if not the most beautiful) country they have ever visited. Having seen the ” Lord of the Rings” trilogy , much of which was shot there , I can well believe it .
Much as I will enjoy the scenery and the thrill of visiting new places , what makes me happiest is that we will be going on this trip with three of my wife’s siblings and their spouses. Only one of the couples are neighbors of ours in Edison , the others live in L.A and in India and we don’t get a chance to be with them that often . This trip will really give us a chance to enjoy their company . Particularly as one grows older , one realises that true riches are the time that one spends in the company of those whom we love and the memories we make together.
Au Revoir until mid – March .