When I was a little girl, the last week of November was a torturous time. I would anxiously spy on the clock, waiting for the days to tick by until finally it would land on the first day of December.
I had decided that day would be the start of my Christmas campaign, a festive assault on my poor, unsuspecting family. I would pester Dad to cut a branch from the lone pine tree on the banks of our little creek and stand watch like a little general making sure it was as close to Hollywood-perfect as possible. Let's just say it wasn't always the most beautiful but that's often the case with real stuff.
As Mum pulled the box of Christmas decorations down from the top cupboard in the spare bedroom I would eagerly wait below, arms outstretched, ready to accept the treasures. The box would be haphazardly packed with a hotchpotch of trinkets: tiny glass-like ornaments, snakes of tinsel, a little straw angel. I would diligently dress the tree as it sat politely - my most supportive Christmas ally - between the piano and the wood heater, calling for help to place the angel on top of the highest branch.
The following weeks would be filled with festivities. I remember fossicking through the cupboard for my favourite John Denver Christmas record; thumping out Silent Night on the piano as the daily house soundtrack; sitting on the verandah podding fresh peas with my dear Granny; and deeply inhaling the welcome smells of plum puddings boiling away while apricot sauce, laced with brandy, warmed on the stove.
To be honest, not much has changed in that years since that little girl has become a (mostly) fully-formed adult. My heart still bursts when the crackling record player fills the house with old carols and friends drop into our family farm for a Christmas tipple. I adore buying thoughtful presents for my family and dear friends, having an woozy afternoon nap after overdoing it at Christmas lunch and packing my bag for our annual Boxing Day roadtrip to the beach.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. We have 24 days to go my dears! Silver bells...
This afternoon I hit the highway only a whisker ahead of peak hour madness, smiling happily as the busy roads, sneakily sandwiched between city housing blocks, slowly gave way to sweeping views of bright green, undulating lands.
As I zoomed along the highway the sun sprayed shades of yellow, burnt orange and fiery pink across the landscape, changing hues with each passing minute.
I saw frame after frame of country goodness: cows lolling on the banks of dams, no doubt seeking respite from the warm springtime day; bales of silage tightly wrapped in mint-green plastic and lined up in neat rows across the paddocks; and a kamikaze cockatoo that swooped cheekily, and somewhat stupidly, across my windscreen to reach the other side of the road and, perhaps to take a peek at some freshly killed roadkill.
All the while this beautiful new album States by The Paper Kites shared my journey. From the first bars I knew this lush, atmospheric collection with its understated, lilting melodies and (good) lazy riffs would be my perfect roadtrip companion. It didn't disappoint.