Birthday with penguins :: Micah’s plant blossoms

Almost a year ago, we bought a Groupon deal for a 1-night stay at a cabin at a KOA-type place on Phillip Island, home of the little penguins.

We couldn’t use the deal on Friday or Saturday nights, so we cashed it in for my falls-on-a-Sunday birthday this year.

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Translation: temp is in Celsius (beautiful during day) and “caravan”=RVs
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Bundle up the kids as the sun sets and the cool Antarctic breeze blows over the water. We dressed in winter coats, beanies (stocking caps) and mittens, covered in blankets, and were glad we did. 
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The penguins start coming out of the water at dusk, so you sit and wait for awhile before you start spotting them. Tiny–from a distance–and in big groups, like swarms of bees that quickly waddle up into the sand, then quickly waddle back into the water, as if they can’t make up their mind about what they’ll do. The hilarious things is, they do this every night from what we hear. (This image and the next one are thanks to the Penguin Parade website as photography after dusk is prohibited.)
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These are little penguins! I had no idea there were fully-grown penguins that were anything less than the big ones we’ve seen at zoos. How creative is our God to make these creatures! The best part was after they’d come on land, they start making their way up the hill, waddling underneath the boardwalks — and then next to us — we walked on to get back to our cars. They were right there next to us. Oh, I wish I could have taken a picture of the kids on one side of the fence and these tuxedoed birds on the other. Joshua was a giant in comparison, as they came up to his knee or thigh.

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The next day we enjoyed the sun again (I tell you–Melbourne weather!) and went to the corner of the island, to The Nobbies. What a rock! Off in the distance is a strip of land and, with binoculars, we could see seals sun bathing. 

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Where’s Waldo? If you look closely, you’ll see a little penguin in the upper/left/middle section, living amongst the sea gulls. (I’m still a bit traumatised at how sea gulls have now swooped on me twice since living here, most recently that evening as we waited for the penguins, we munched on nuts and…well, bye bye nut. With Joshua on my lap. He was already crying and afraid of them. He turned his head and missed the should-be-used-for-military-secret-ops-with-that-precise-tactic grab otherwise we might have had to leave right then.) 
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We came home to the surprise (for me, at least, but Scott knew) gift of a dinner all ready, flowers, a cake and a card from our dear friends, the Ungs. It was an amazing gift in and of itself, but I felt like it was also a sweet ending to a great-but-whiny mini vacation. I’ve been sick with some yucky respiratory junk for almost 2 weeks that I can’t kick and cough more than I sleep, the kids were whiney and not as grateful as I’d have liked, I was whiney and not as grateful as I’d have liked. I wanted strangers to burst into spontaneous rounds of happy birthday and hand me American chocolate birthday cake. And for American friends to pop out from amongst the penguins and hug me. There’s still a deep ache, even after 14 months of living here, to be known well here. The ache undoubtedly has been felt more, recently, after having the Michaels here and then celebrating another birthday. For my story to be a lightweight backdrop to a conversation, not for my story to be what we talk about, because it’s not yet known to a friend. But, it takes time. And I’m still learning what that looks like and how to be patient. At 41 I didn’t know I’d still be learning so much about resting in Jesus about friendships, too. But, spring and the hope of new is here, at least Down Under. Our Gardenia bush, our “Micah plant” has started to blossom. Oh, the fragrance. Life.

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I asked if I could take a picture of Lizzy with the bush. This is what she did. My heart caught in my throat a bit at her spontaneous hug.





One thought on “Birthday with penguins :: Micah’s plant blossoms

  1. Amanda Stephens November 18, 2015 / 2:15 am

    I wish could have been there to pop out of a bush with your cake and yell “Happy Birthday!” Missed celebrating with you stateside, but love seeing how your family loved on you. Cherished memories for sure. I love you friend! 🙂

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