Irish Blessing

Irish Blessing

Monday, January 11, 2016

Penpals: From An Australian Farm to the Middle of Kansas

From Google Images,
At Christmastime each year, there would be one envelope that was a little different from the rest. As a child, I remember seeing the red and blue air mail envelope tucked in among the plain white ones. It was the annual missive from my mom's Australian penpal, Jill.

They began corresponding through a church penpal exchange when they were 14 or 15 years old. At the time, my mother lived on a farm in Pratt County, Kansas. Jill lived in Melbourne, Australia. They wrote letters back and forth two or three times a year during their teenage years.

With families and busy lives, the frequency waned, but they always exchanged Christmas cards and letters. This year was the 65th time they've sent Christmas cards and letters across the ocean.

I didn't consciously name our daughter after the Australian Jill. But maybe there was still some childhood fascination with this exotic "visitor" who arrived via the mailbox from a land so far away. I won't rule out a subconscious attraction to the name.

My parents finally met the Australian Jill in 2001. By that time, Jill had moved to Paradise Point, a town near Brisbane. They spent some time with Jill playing hostess to the tourists. My mom said it was like visiting with an old friend, though she admits that both of them needed to slow down their speech cadence to cope with the unfamiliar accent of the other.

Perhaps that is why I felt an immediate connection to an Australian blogger, Lynda. But even more than the Australian penpal legacy, I am amazed at Lynda's photography featured on her blog, Farm-ily.

From Google Images


Lynda and her husband, Phil, farm near Tocumwal in New South Wales.
They raise alfalfa, too. (They call it lucerne.) So the photos from the "lucerne" field often look like they could have been taken at our farm (though we would have had to suddenly switch to the "green team" of tractors). The sunrises and sunsets that she loves as much as I do are taken from a similarly vast expanse of sky.

In November, she posted the cover of her 2016 Farm-ily calendar. I commented to her that it could have been taken at my favorite "sunrise" tree. 

Here's a shot from my sunrise tree, just for comparison. In Australia, they are experiencing their summer right now, while my tree has dropped its leaves for winter. But the sunrises are really quite similar.
I also mentioned that seeing her calendar was a reminder for me to get my own 2016 calendar finished for family Christmas gifts. Lynda wondered if I'd be interested in a calendar exchange.

Her calendar came in the mail before Christmas, and what a gift it was! Even though the photos were taken halfway across the world, there's the familiarity of the beauty of life on the farm - whether it's in the middle of Kansas or in New South Wales.
The front of my 2016 calendar. I do it with special occasion dates for some in my family.
There is a major difference. My wintry photos are in January and February. Her photo of frost-capped plants is featured in July. (I may have similar photos of wheat, but they certainly weren't taken in July around here!) 

I was refreshing my memory with my mom about her Australian penpal, and I learned something I didn't know. Some 20 years ago, the two penpals began exchanging calendars as Christmas gifts. My Mom sent Jill a calendar with Kansas images. Jill's calendar reflects the scenery of Australia.

I may not have a penpal from Australia. But I have a blog friend. Developing friendships with people you only know from their blogs is one of the fringe benefits.

It really is a small world after all.


  1. You do indeed have an Australian blog friend! Thank you Kim for such kind words. I'm really touched. I love that we have connected across the miles, and treasure the friendship that has formed via blogging. May it continue for many, many years!!

    1. I am so glad to have "found" you, Lynda! I look forward to many years of friendship, though we may not be able to beat my mom's and Jill's record! We started too late!

  2. I follow her Farm-ily blog too and also love her pictures! S very interesting to see farming on the other side of the world :)

    1. I am just amazed that many of the photos could be taken on our farm, with exceptions, of course. And that makes it even more interesting to me!

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