Amanda's most recent posting was to Glen Innes, 570km north of Sydney and though she won't be retiring in Glen Innes, that is where her retirement service was held.
I was up at 6am to catch an 8am flight but fog had rolled in over the Sydney basin, stopping landings and delaying flights. We finally took off close to 10am. I haven't been on a regional flight before so it was something different. We were bussed from the terminal to the plane, the captain met us at the bottom of the steps and there were only five on the flight.
I watched the landscape for the whole flight, it gave me a different perspective on my state and is one of the reasons I love flying. We landed in Armidale where Amanda picked me up for the hour drive north to her town. The countryside was brown and dams were near empty. There were cattle standing on the railway line and a few 'roo carcasses on the road. The area is known as a pretty part of Australia and I can see the attraction but frost damage and ( more so) drought, is hitting hard and I had to use some imagination to envision it at it's best.
Amanda's house was cosy with a log fire and her precious plants placed indoors for protection from the cold made it feel like a conservatory. We chatted over lunch and I had a small nap on the couch as she wrote her farewell speech.
Hugo the dog amused me. In stark contrast to Harry, who is most definitely a self described INDOOR DOG, Hugo is very much a self appointed OUTDOOR DOG. He slept on the brown grass and resisted all attempts to let him in by the fire. It was only after we came back from dinner at the Dragon Court Restaurant and temperatures were about equal to a fridge, that he decided to join us indoors and he put himself outside again first thing in the morning.
This morning we went to Amanda's church where the the atmosphere was warm and friendly. Amanda's friend Lillian made the formal recognition of her career and service. Amanda responded with a thoughtful reflection on her vocation and the woman who oversees all of the churches in the area preached. It was a two hour service but it was full of good music and heartfelt reflection so the time passed quickly before the ladies of the local Lions club served a simple lunch of pumpkin soup and sandwiches.
I asked around about who might be travelling south and managed to get a lift back to the airport with the minister from a town two hours away. I have never before made such a bold move as to ask a stranger for a lift (well, there was the time I went to the US to meet my blogging buddies but that story has been told) but there was plenty to chat about and I got out of the car feeling that I had made a new friend.
I arrived at the airport 2 and a half hours before the flight, looking forward to a coffee and something to eat. I had something to learn though, there is nobody at a regional airport so long before the flight. The only people in the terminal were two helicopter pilots. The cafe was shut, there were no passengers, nobody at the check in desk......
the lovely new terminal was mine to enjoy. And so I did, watching the sky and chatting on the phone until there was more life.
|A lovely, light filled terminal|
|Big skies and coffee in the winter sun|
|Sunset over the airport|
|A hand written boarding pass!|
Let me leave you with the quote Amanda chose for today:
“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”N.H.Kleinbaum Dead Poets Society
Amanda's verse is love, joy & service and I don't see retirement changing that.