|Tea time in Oz|
|Giff, Jeff Hunt, Richard Tax, Marilyn, and Sean Pack, 2001|
Tax became a member of our team on Wednesday of that week. When we stopped to pick him up, he leaped into the vehicle, nodded good morning, clicked his seat belt, and we were off. At lunch time, we would park under a gum tree, gather some twigs and make a small fire to heat the Billy for tea and Jaffles, heated sandwiches filled with yesterday’s leftover dinner, slices of cheese, and pepper sauce, melded together over the fire. Student Sean Pack offered Tax sugar for his tea with the phrase “Say when!” We watched as more and more sugar was dumped into Richard’s cup, finally realizing he had no idea what “Say when” actually meant. The syrupy tea was dumped and everyone laughed.
On our last day with Richard, we stopped and took a group photo. It is said that Aborigines don’t like to be photographed, but that did not seem a problem. We shook hands warmly as we drove out of Mulan, knowing we’d had a cultural experience and glimpse into the life of a native Australian that almost no white Australians ever have. When we departed via the town of Balgo, stopping at the local art shoppe, we were surprised to learn that not only was Richard Tax a valued senior lawman, but he was the Rainmaker of the community, a man who could put a spell on us if we’d misbehaved! He was also an internationally recognized painter with tourists flying into Balgo to purchase his artwork. His painting of people sitting around a campfire hangs on the wall of my home office as I wrote this.