One of the best aspects of the house sitting lifestyle is the opportunity it affords for making new friends. Though its important to establish mutual respect, it doesn’t necessarily occur that you make a connection with owners, but when it does it can blossom into a lovely friendship. Its that myserious mixture of alchemy, curiosity, timing and openness; a willingess to get to know the other person and their story.
I house sat for Greg and Cheryl on their beautiful macadamia farm just outside of Lismore, in April 2014. The dogs Pup and Buddy were wonderful canine companions who slept at the bottom of my bed, protecting me from marauding possums, bats snakes and spiders. Sadly Pup passed away soon after Cheryl lost her mum.
Almost three years had gone by when I realised that in my current house sit I was only 1 and a half hours away from their farm. We had remained Facebook friends over that time so I checked and they were at home. I seized the opportunity to reconnect with them
‘Come for lunch’ Cheryl said so I planned my journey.
I have to admit that I am a directionally challenged and Google map dependent. Yet strangely, as I drove past the local airport I remembered the turn off and the winding ascent through fertile green hills to their home. Buddy gave me an effusive welcome and I could tell by that glint in his eye that he remembered his ‘Aunt Katie’ who had cared for him. What a remarkable dog! I then met the latest addition to the family, a charming little fellow called Mac in honour of the macadamias they farm.
The reconnection was warm and happy; we ralked about politics-global, national and local, our grandchildren starting school, our respective travels and they updated me with some backpacker stories.
Invariably kind and compassionate, they have saved many foreign backpackers from difficult situations. The latest story was no exception. Driving along a lonely stretch of road with little traffic, Greg saw a young Chinese girl “She looked like twelve!” with a suitcase attempting to hitchhike to Brisbane to see her boyfirend. When Greg explained that it wasn’t the best place to do so he offered to take her back to have dinner and stay overnight with them before putting her on a bus to Brisbane the following day. She insisted on going North and through a series of coincidences, Greg heard that some loony had delibertely crashed into the suitcase, destroying all her possessions.She apparently made it to Brisbane and seemed to disappear from their lives.
Out of the blue they received a desparate phone call; she had broken up with her boyfriend, had no money and nowhere to go. Cheryl bought her a bus ticket from Brisbane and the girl was so grateful, staying for some weeks helping them with the harvest before returning home.
That’s the kind of people they are; they care about others.
Cheryl also shared some encounters with the abundant wildlife of the area, describing a friendly carpet python who likes to descend from his home in the nearby tree to pay them a visit in the hot afternoons. “The birds start chattering and tell you when he’s returned to the trees”
It was time to leave and as I drove down the mountain, I reflected on the warmth and affection I had experienced that afternoon.