Friday, April 14, 2006
Easter Thursday afternoon in Adelaide
At the Haigh's factory and Visitors' Centre they'd hired three security staff, of whom two were outside in the tiny car park making sure that shoppers didn't overcrowd, bang into or kill each other. A third was inside, watching no doubt for opportunistic punters who might try shoving a chocolate chicken, fish or bilby up their jumpers. There was an actual policeman inside as well, but I think he was just buying chocotreats like the rest of us.
There would have been sixty or seventy people in the shop, but apart from the two feral children running amok under the feet of the ever-patient staff, all was orderly, more or less. I bought a half-egg with scorched almonds for my dad and stepmother, another half-egg with Freckles in it for one sister and a box of peppermint creams (dark) for the other, and a bag of chocolate frogs for R, who when I arrived at her house in the Hills had a bag of Haighs Aprichocs for me.
The drive up the freeway, especially since they put the tunnel in and flattened out the worst curves and slopes a bit, is glorious as long as you hold your nerve. (An Adelaidean by birth, I learned to drive in Melbourne, so am still appalled by the way my fellow croweaters drive: an indicator light means 'I just pulled over into your lane right in front of you', and someone else's indicator light means 'I can see you want to change lanes so I'm going to speed up so you can't get in front of me'. A speed limit sign does not apply to one's own car. Amber means green, and so does red.)
Ahem. The Adelaide Hills are full of deciduous trees, and we're at the precise cusp of autumn. It was like being in Rivendell.
At R's we drank champagne and watched a beautiful unidentified bird with pale grey wings, sky-blue tail and lemon-yellow breast share the seed bell hung in the sapling with a blue and red Adelaide Rosella. At the end of R's veranda the transparent pink glory-vine leaves hung down on strings like a curtain with the afternoon sunlight shining through them. When you take the freeway back down into the city, you can see the huge Adelaide sky stretching across to the sea -- yesterday there was soft air with end-of-summer warmth in it, and some high cloud the same soft grey as the wings of the mystery parrot.
Over on the up track of the freeway, the traffic was thickening up as people joined the exodus. On local ABC radio they were talking to a couple of blokes staffing the Driver Reviver stations outside Angaston and Naracoorte, where people were pulling over for a free coffee and a stretch and a chat, and a third ABC person was watching the holiday traffic head north up Port Wakefield Road on its way to Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas, the mid-North and the Flinders Ranges, and somewhere in there my friends L and M were heading for Port Broughton to go fishing, with Oscar the Border Collie in the back of the ute.
(All a bit like the Les Murray poem below, really, though this didn't occur to me while I was posting it.)
The ABC also kept cutting to someone giving safe-driving tips and here's one for anyone who might ever find it useful: if you're towing a caravan and see a truck coming in the other direction, don't slow down or move further to the side of the road, as people are apparently wont to do. Both of these things will destabilise the caravan. Keep to your course, and speed up just very slightly as you pass the truck; it will pull the van straight behind you.
It's a 45-minute drive home from R's and when I got home it was still light and no accidents had been reported from anywhere. The cats were asleep.
Happy Easter to all.
[Image from here.]