I’m winding down in Australia. The vintage will be coming to a close in a few weeks, at least for the growers and viticulturists. The winemakers have much to do still, as they consider how to divide up the many different parcels of grapes resting in tanks or barrels. In 10 days I’m off to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, and Laos in order to write about beer and rice. I’ll be back in Australia eventually, maybe to prune the vineyards later in May. Basically, like Ulysses, I don’t want to go home yet. At least that’s how Paul views Ulysses’s plight in Jean-Luc Godard’s brilliant “Contempt”. Penelope, played as Camille by Brigitte Bardot, has been unfaithful and he’d rather travel than go home. That’s one take on the story which I’m identifying with more each passing day. In order to keep travelling and stay away from home, I need to find some work that pays. New Zealand might be a possibility, so might Melbourne. Adelaide is well known terrain, but I feel like I may have overstayed my welcome here. How long can such a good thing last?
The vineyards have begun to show some signs of disease, what with the recent rain and all the hassles the season has brought. The garden has given all it can. I can’t begin to tell how much I’ve learned here. Beyond the fact that sorting tables aren’t en vogue, and Aussies eat meat pies like no tomorrow, there’s not enough room to sum up.
It is safe to say, however, that they know how to celebrate life and the arts here in Adelaide. Plenty of talented young artists show there work around town, like Violet Cooper’s “The Illustrated Woman” pictured here to the left. Adelaide, like Portland used to be, is cheap enough for artists to live and work in. Many are eagerly trying their hand at designing wine labels, as well. The action packed Fringe Festival ends this weekend, and was full of music and edgy comedy for a month.
Womadelaide world music fest took me for 85 bucks, and would have made all you Deadheads and eco-world music afficianados recycle your eye teeth with joy. I walked around the organic food tents looking for decent Mexican and failed for the second to last time. There was also a good film festival, in which my friend sat next to Nick Cave at dinner (unbeknownst to her). Lets not forget the 5 day Klipsa motor race through the streets of town. There is the Barossa Wine Festival which I’ll be at next week. Plenty of sausages and fresh killed country meat to be had there with goblets of rich red wine.
This Monday I get to try my hand at some small batch wine making in the Woolshed at Clarendon Vineyard with the Hickinbothams. It will be nice to finish vintage here amongst friends in a small winery setting. Belvidere was enormously interesting, particularly it’s massive scale, but it’s the small artisanal winemaking that I’m really curious to take part in. And that is what I’m doing this week.
I’m equal parts nervous and excited about the next chapter in my Odyssey. The hospitality of the people I’ve met here in SA has been above and beyond the call of duty. How comforting to know there are a variety of beds and sofas I can sleep upon, and dozens of warm homemade meals awaiting if I need it.
This kind of warmth is hard to imagine in SE Asia, or anywhere else for that matter. So I make my next move treadding lightly, already amazed at how quickly 3 months in Adelaide has passed. And I look over my shoulder and almost everyone i know in NYC is having children, building homes, and creating families. It’s not that I mind doing the Walt Whitman or Ulysses thing at this stage in my life, I just wonder if at some point I’ll actually get wiser, and not just older. How do you measure wisdom?