We felt it arrive. Like a draft that brushed over us. The leaves began to fall and winter, it came early. We know we don't have long now. Two years go by way too fast. But that arrival that we felt, not only winter, was our welcomed want to go home.
Our weekends left here in this country are now countable on our hands. We aren't so happy about that. But for the very first time, we don't fight it. The urge to stay longer, an urge we've had since our arrival, has suddenly and rather gently been overturned by the acceptance - and dare I say excitement - to move on. We dream of home. Where will we live? Where will we explore on our weekends? We anticipate. Familiar beaches and hang outs, colourful money and eucalyptus leaves. Triple J, at any hour. Bounding marsupials, the cake store, afternoon drives past dairy farms and hours spent on cliffs in the back yard.
We don't wish our time here away, however. Instead, we make it mean so much more. We turn the time and weekends that we do have left wandering as many of our favourite corners of this country as possible. This past week has seen us on the road, driving interstate 10 and 95. We have visited Tennessee cities, Floridian coast lines and one of our most favourite corners of all, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
We spend days ascending routes and evenings by the campfire here. We spin in layers of leaves and relish the colours of Autumn. We explore the little villages and return to our tents at night. It's the rocks, the rivers and the reflection of seasons in the bush here that we love most. It is a place that has settled dear in our wandering, foreign blood.
During one morning in the mountains, we huddled into the warmth of the campfire and away from the early onset of winter. We took the time to make a slower breakfast. To breath in the autumn air and listen to the frigid mountain stream flow by. As far as places go, it's here, it's this that we will miss most. But we didn't linger in angst to be leaving this place. Instead, we made damper. An Australian bush-bread, once a staple to the stockmen and the drovers and other wandering type. Fitting for our current situation really. We know that as wanderers we leave things behind. And we can choose to fight it, or we can choose to welcome what lies ahead. At the time, the damper was purely there for a morning breakfast treat. Now, looking back it seems as though we made this breakfast as a subtle gesture towards our welcomed want to be returning to Australia. We are so grateful for this time, all of it, but something has shifted. We felt it. And we've accepted the change.
Soon, we will be home.
Campfire Damper on a Stick
Traditionally damper uses only flour, water and salt, is shaped into a round loaf and cooked in a cast iron pot over hot coals. Instead, we chose to use butter and milk and to make the more fun option - damper on a stick. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to make more.
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 15 minutes
total time: 25 minutes
yields: 2 servings
1 1/2 cups (200g) self raising flour
40g melted, salted butter
1/2 cup milk
extra butter for serving
golden syrup ( for USA peeps - this can be found in the UK international foods section of the supermarket and is so very worth it!)
2 long foraged sticks
In a large bowl place the flour, melted butter and the milk. Using a strong butter knife, cut through the mixture until it is mostly combined. The cutting action will ensure that the mixture isn't overworked and remains as light and airy as possible. Using your hands, gently massage the dough to combine any left over flour and to form a smooth round ball. No kneading is necessary here.
Break the dough into four even pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake about 30cm (12 inches) long. Starting at the top of the stick, firmly wrap the dough around moving in one direction down the stick to form a twist. Gently push the top and the bottom of the dough to the stick to make sure that it stays on.
Roast the damper over campfire coals, turning continuously until cooked - approx 15 minutes. Once cooked, the damper should sound hollow when tapped. Remove the damper from the stick and smother in butter and plenty of golden syrup.