Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sole Mates

K Is For Kernot

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

In January 1991 we spent a week in a little Victorian country town called Kernot. It's a blink-and-you-miss-it hamlet in Gippsland, about a ninety minute drive from Melbourne.

Set in lush dairy farming country, it is characterised by green rolling hills and rugged Outback farmers who work the properties established by their ancestors. With friends of ours, we decided that the prospect of hiring a farmhouse for the week was a great prospect - and indeed it was.

Our gracious hosts, Robert and Susan McQueston, made us comfortable and showed us around the rambling property. We unloaded the cars and our respective toddlers and an infant  and settled into our bush retreat.

Before Robert and Susan left, they told me I might like to walk down to the main farmhouse after dinner to pick up a jug of cold fresh milk for the children. Sounded like a good idea to me.
It was midsummer, even though the nights were still chilly and the days so long that darkness only enveloped the quiet countryside after nine o'clock.

It was pitch black when I decided it was time to wander across and collect the milk. Robert had told me it would be easiest to use the path that ran down the hill to the right of our farmhouse. I didn't ask him why.

But now I figured the simplest way would be to cut through the paddock towards their cottage further down the hill.

Of course, I didn't need any navigational aids. The cottage was maybe 100 metres away, on a north-north-west bearing. I could see it clearly because it was the only light source in the entire sweep of the silent Australian night.

No worries at all. Knocked on the door. Said G'day. Took the full jog of freezing cold milk. Then I realised, as soon as I stepped out into the dark again, that finding my way uphill towards a small glow from one window of our farmhouse would be a lot harder than finding my way downhill.

And of course I had to carry the jug in both hands to ensure nothing spilled over. I navigated my way back in a manner that would have brought a smile to the face of the world's most rugged explorers.

The next morning my wife came to me and asked me to inspect my new white Nike runners (trainers if you live in the US). They were spotless. Then she asked to see the soles of the shoes. They too were spotless.

This was a bit like the Spanish Inquisition. So I asked my wife what was happening. With a smile, she led me to the paddock.

It was littered generously with horse dung. Like a fully-solved crossword puzzle, there were deposits in every ``square''. Not just one patch, not just twenty patches. There would have been maybe three hundred patches, of varying degrees of freshness.

But walking across the paddock in the dark, first downhill and then uphill, I had not stepped in one of them. Not one.


RUTH said...

LOL..I knew Nike trainers were good but have never seen them advertised as cow pat repellent :o)

david mcmahon said...

Hi Ruth,

There's an ad slogan for them, too!
You can claim royalties ...

Keep smiling


Secluded Habitat said...

Lol that is awesome, not one bit of dung you stepped in.

I wonder though, how on *EARTH* did you manage that.

By the way I love the photo.

david mcmahon said...

Hi Stuart,

I'm tipping that I could try it again, 200 times, and never finish up with clean shoes!

Keep smiling


Anonymous said...

WoW...this is a very beautifully captured shot. It really looks a lovely place & it was wonderful reading your description!

Hammer said...

Missing all those landmines must have taken some divine guidance.

WalksFarWoman said...

David - I felt sure you were going to say that you'd gone in the wrong direction, walked into someone else's home and taken their milk by mistake. :)

Great photo, great story.rzkbo

Melissa said...

Great story, and I was also waiting on you to say you stopped at the wrong house for milk or that you ended up lost in the darkness.

The place looks very relaxing.

david mcmahon said...

Hi Kalyan,

Many thanks. It is a beautiful place - the entire Gippsland region is just spectacular.

Hope you have a great Puja season.

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Hi Hammer,

Landmines - that's a wonderful description! I'm still laughing ....

And our Aussie cow pats are Vegemite-powered!

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

G'day WFW,

Believe me, it could have happened. Something that looked so close in daylight never looked so far in the ead of night!

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Hi Melissa,

It is a beautiful region and gets a brief mention towards the end of my novel.

I actually thought I might arrive on someone else's doorstep and take the milk that was intended for someone else!

Keep smiling


Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

C'mon, fess up - you RODE that bloomin' horse both there and back, didn't you??

david mcmahon said...

Hi Carol,

I always thought I looked a bit like Paul Rovere!

Keep smiling


kml said...

I bet the owners tell that story to all their new guests! You certainly were lucky!

Great pic!!

dot said...

Very funny story! It made me think of Andy Griffin's recording of "What It Was, Was Football".
Love that picture also!

david mcmahon said...


I'll have to give them acall to find out!

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Hi Dot,

I'll have to see if I can check out the recording ...

Glad you liked the post and the picture.

Keep smiling


Neva said...

I loved reading your story! What a hoot! Looks like a lovely place.

DWQ Online said...

Love the shot and great story.

photowannabe said...

Delightful entry for K. Your Nike Trainers proved to be worth every penny you paid for them...great story.

Max-e said...

David if that had been me I'd have been covered with the stuff. I have a natural knack of putting my foot in it

Peter M said...

No use crying over spilled milk as they say, a great story and glad you had a good time.

AVCR8TEUR said...

David, you must be a Nike ninja to feel your way in the dark and avoiding all the cow dung. Your photo has a calming effect.

Ackworth Born said...

I've just started joining in with the ABC Wednesday project and have added you to my ABC blogroll.

will come back and read more of your fascinating posts later.

karoline said...



Nicole said...

Great photo and story... someone was obviously watching over you and moving the dung out of your way as you made your steps forward.