Finding Roo

The sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be such a nice day, so rather then spending it inside hubby and I decided to take a drive and see what we could see.

We headed down the highway and it was amazing to notice that in just a matter of days all the snow had melted and already the green tinges on the grass were beginning to show. Seeing a sign ahead for Stillwater, we decided to go for a wander through this quaint old river town. It is only about 10 minutes from where we live and yet is like stepping back in time. The store fronts all have that look of the 1900's, there is a family drug store on one corner and a real malt shop on the other. Antique seller and book stores seem to be most predominant though. Straight away we noticed there seemed to be more people around then usual and then I saw the signs.

It was Tussie Mussie Day, (I have no idea why it is called that and nor did anyone else when I asked) but its a day where people are encouraged to walk through the town and visit the stores and at each store you are given a flower for free. So off we set and before long I already had a bouquet as most stores were actually happily giving away 2-3 flowers. Under the shaded lattice eaves of one store though, something odd caught my attention. There in the window was a life sized three foot high, toy red kangaroo.

Of course I was drawn to it instantly as one of the things I have noticed lately is that the longer I am away from Australia the more inclined I am to collect anything Australian when I see it. I already had in my position a three inch ceramic koala I had found when wandering into an antique store and a small rhinestone bejeweled gecko pin I had found in another antique store. Turning around I searched for hubby who was busy slurping on ice-cream and grabbing his hand excitedly dragged him over to the store front window and pointed. 'Look, it's a roo!!!' 'uh huh' he replied more concerned with his loosing his ice-cream. I starred for a moment at the roo, looked back at hubby, looked at the price tag (which said $40.99) smiled and then thought 'what the heck'. The door was opening so in I went.

This odd shop, which looked quite small from the outside, was HUGE inside and was indeed an odd mixture. Predominantly it was a toy store but also there was hand made jewelry, clothing and furniture all with an oriental theme. On hearing someone approach I turned to see a small elfin like man wearing the most beautiful rich maroon coloured silk robes.

He bowed and asked if could assist me. I smiled back and told him I wanted the kangaroo in the window. He seemed a little confused so I motioned for him to follow me and I pointed out what I wanted. Now this was one crowded front window so pulling out the center piece (the kangaroo) was no mean feat. By this time hubby had wandered in and seemed quite bemused by the interior of the store. Finally the man in the silken robes appeared holding my roo, which seemed almost as big as him. Hubby now wanted to wander around the store to investigate so making sure roo was safe behind the counter we perused the rest of the store. The small gentleman appeared again and we started chatting.

He was, he told us Tibetan and he and his family makes all the jewelry and clothes. He also showed us a room where they hand made and hand carved furniture. Hubby and I were both stunned when we were told they use no nails. Before us stood a very unusual canopy double bed in dark black wood, all carved and as solid as a rock, and put together with not one nail.

There was wonderful rustic chairs and tables and functional cupboards. But only the bed and the 'prayer' cabinets were carved with intricate patterns. In a display cabinet were also parrots and fish all hand carved and so life like including a cockatoo which of coarse I also had to have especially as it was life size and only $12.00. I couldn't help but smile at the thought that just as I crave my Australian heritage others crave and find ways to display and incorporate into their daily lives their own. Here was a lovely Tibetan family doing just that.

After collecting a few other items we went back to the checkout and as hubby went to reach for my kangaroo the wonderful Tibetan gentleman smiled and nodded in my direction and softly said, 'she will carry, is her home'. So off we went, back out into the sunshine, a bouquet of flowers in one arm and a three foot high red roo held in the other arm. Finding 'Roo' as I have called her just made me so feel good as I think for a long time I didn't really want to collect any Australian for fear it would make me homesick but now I am finding comfort in my 'Australiana' collection and Roo of course has pride of place in it and I can't help but pat her head as I walk by.

Bree Hayhoe
April 2005