It was a relief, really.
The date was chosen months ago. We’d meet at Dutton Park and watch a few hours of cricket under a tree on the northern lawns and as the sun sunk the nonsense meter would start lurching towards, “high” then, “dangerously high” and possibly even, “Are you blokes (Fats) kidding me?”
The pitch covers had been left off since Thursday and so the overnight rain meant that the match was abandoned early Saturday morning. Safely inside the Kapunda Cricket Club we were therefore relieved of the functional burden of spectating.
In the ragged glory of the communal shed we gathered in a loose circle about an esky (no ice necessary given the cold weather and a dozen task-focussed chaps) and inside the trotting track, just up the way, the star-spangled rodeo began in its ridiculous, boot-scootin’ style.
Meanwhile our gathering was opportune and contemporary and nostalgic, often in the same sentence. Almost immediately there was concurrent chat about matters weighty and matters trivial although our subsequent recollection of these topics is neither here nor there. The art and act of conversation is sometimes more important than any content.
Up at the rodeo a young chap pulled into the carpark in an overly large ute.
Out in the middle of Dutton Park’s oval encouraged by the wet spring and regular mowing the grass continued to grow.
In the KCC sheds someone, likely Fats or Whitey or Froggy told a story. There was much laughter as you’d expect on a Saturday afternoon a month or so out from Christmas.
Most of us then made our way up to the much-loved hotel that is Puffa’s. It was the rodeo-is-in-town quiet, and we determined to enjoy our time. There’s nothing quite like settling into your favourite hometown pub with people who’ve known you since you were wetting the bed (as a child).
For those following along at home Puffa’s doesn’t often serve meals however we’re invited to cook our own out by the back lawn on a hulking ancient barbecue. In an act of collective care Woodsy had organised and marinated some chicken, sourced salad (well, shredded lettuce but let’s not reduce the spectacle with culinary accuracy) and purchased bread rolls.
Since surrendering my Weber kettle I’ve not recently been a devotee of the charcoal grill despite the PM requiring us to all unconditionally love coal in its various forms. Tolly had left us an air-blower which quickly had lava-hotness happening and chook a-sizzling. How I marvelled at this miracle of modern hairdryers!
Up at the rodeo a young woman sang along to an especially dreadful country song. You know, one that can’t decide if it’s American or Australian as it chugs away but is forgotten moments after it stops.
Disappointingly nobody in our crew remarked, “If that’s dinner then I’ve had it.” We retired to Puffa’s tiny front bar where over the decades so much, and truth be told, so little had occurred. Chris and Andrew’s dad, Jimmy, made a welcome, patriarchal appearance as did my 1985 A3’s cricket captain Beetle and the A2’s vice-captain Fickle. The presence of these chaps gave our entertainment historical and personal context, I think.
Out in the middle of Dutton Park’s oval it was now country-town dark although nobody noticed at the rodeo or in Puffa’s where talk had inevitably moved to the prospect of spoofy. It would’ve been churlish not to rattle the coins and each utter in theatrical turn, “Good call” or “Your buy!” or “Three” (everyone’s favourite spoofy call).
All that boisterous and bonding nonsense complete we walked up Clare Road in the still evening, lighter in the (digital) wallet and lighter of heart with connections refreshed and hometown joys revisited.
I’d rarely enjoyed not watching Kapunda play cricket or going to a rodeo so much.