Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Between Worlds and Home, Sweet (Cool) Home


Season’s Greetings from Melbourne Airport

Between Worlds

Into the cool green embrace of Tasmania
It was 34oC when I left Perth and it's 18oC when I arrive in Tasmania. I'll be complaining about the cold next. The little girls and their Mum arrive two days later.  When they wake up in the morning, there's snow on the mountain.They are positively thrilled. I don't think the youngest, aged five, has ever seen it. They play in it, they taste it and come back red -cheeked and very excited. It could be a white Christmas yet.

So little snow - so much excitement
Youngest son has decided to delay his departure until after Christmas and the oldest, with his little family, will be arriving tomorrow.  For a few days the house will be crowded with music, laughter and chaos. Strange that. I always thought it was a bit like Brigadoon for my mother -in -law when the whole family descended for a day or two and then scattered again to lead their separate lives. Now it's happening to me.


It seems that one minute you are complaining about the noise, the fighting and the mess, and the fact that you can never get into the bathroom. Then all of a sudden, it is silent and tidy and all you have is memories and maybe a few old school books, toys and mementos of these people whom you now hardly know. Some of them have beards, some have children and all have much too busy lives and you, once the centre of their universe, feel totally irrelevant. Obviously time to get a life. What was it now that I was doing before the children came? I'll get back to you on that when I remember what it was. Mind you, I could do with a couple of "Silent Nights, Holy Nights" after five months of being surrounded and outnumbered.  Still, I should enjoy my family while I can, you never know when the opportunity to do so will come again.




Wishing you and your Family a wonderful Christmas
 and all the best for 2017


Monday, December 19, 2016

Goodbye Western Australia


Possibly a type of Casuarina - these are not so much flowers  as excrescences

Have no idea what this tree is either but it has little yellow star flowers like a Jasmine
In Western Australia the season of flowering trees continues -not just the Jacarandas, stunning as they are, but also those above, several types of ti -tree and the first of the flowering gums, a spectacular pink one. (Sorry no photo, I was in someone else's car on the way to dinner).The bright red calistemons, usually one of my favourites because they come out at Christmas time and provide a seasonally appropriate splash of colour, came out much earlier this year and during a particularly hot spell, making them go into almost immediate decline before the flower heads had fully developed.


Calistemon - usually prolific at this time of year, but few and far between this time


Sadly, most of them look like this - dying off before they are fully in bloom



Though I wasn't sorry to be leaving the heat behind, I was a bit sad to be leaving Western Australia, knowing that I was unlikely to be back, now that my daughter and her little family were relocating to Queensland. This had been their home for the past six years or so, but such is the way in Australia. You have to be prepared to go where the work takes you. It makes the annual get together that is Christmas all the more important. Goodbye to the West and all the good friends there.

That's more like it - see what I mean about Calistemons being Christmassy?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Rain! ...and the revolt of the Shopping Trolleys



First real rain since early October
Whooeee!  It just rained, and a real gutter -spiller it was, complete with thunder and lightning. I don't think we've had a drop of rain since I came back from Broome on the 4th of October.  All around you can hear the bush and the trees sighing with relief and I feel much the same. Before that it’s been a bit like "Troppo Season" in Darwin just before the rains hit, which is usually accompanied by an excess of violence, pub brawls  and road rage. Then, when the rain does finally break, you feel like going out and dancing in it. That how I felt last night.

Kangaroo Mum and baby popped down this morning  for a spot of green grass - note how skinny Mother Kangaroo is

It’s been over 37oC for the past few days and everything has been tinder dry. Tempers have been short too. Indeed, the Allied Shop Assistants Union has been thinking of going on strike due to abusive shoppers. So much for Christmas Cheer.  To be fair, while I was braving the crowds yesterday, one nice man with a massive trolley let me go ahead of him with my single bottle of milk and a box of chocolates. It's hard to get excited about snowflakes and turkey dinners when you break out in a sweat just getting out your credit card.
 
Outside in the parking lot, there were standoffs over the last available parking space that had a tiny bit of shade and I could see people sitting in their cars with motors running and the aircon on, eating icecream.  Even the trolleys seemed to prefer the shade.

Taking a break in the shade
 Blame my suspicious nature, but I’ll swear they were up to something the way they clustered together in conspiratorial knots. Were they plotting revenge on thoughtless shoppers who abandon them on vacant lots, use them as baby carriages, or simply leave them in the street to be monstered by traffic?  (It doesn’t happen to Aldi’s because you have to pay for those).  Don’t say you haven’t been warned. 

".... And we demand better pay and conditions, or at least the deal that Aldi's trolleys have."
"No more Trolley Abuse!!" I say
 As you may have guessed, I don’t have much to report at the moment- no stunning photos or exciting adventures, but not for lack of activity – end of year concerts, family moving house, Christmas parties, guests  coming, people leaving, including me. I’ll be heading back to Tasmania later in the week and then it will be full on Christmas mode for a couple of weeks. 

"Wait for me!"


"... And we must get together in the New Year."


In case I don’t manage to write to you individually this year, please accept my very best wishes for a lovely time with family and friends and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.  It wouldn’t have to try very hard to be better than this one was. 


Cheers for now

-          Veronika


 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jacaranda, the Tree of Heaven

The magnificent Jacaranda

While most of the colour has drained from the bush and it seems to be a quiet time while it catches its breath, the city streets have erupted in a blaze of purple.  This is because the Jacaranda is in bloom.  I always thought that this was an Australian tree because it is so widespread on most of the east coast, but it turns out that according to Wiki  the Jacaranda is a member of the Begonia family and a native of tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America, although it is now very common in South Africa too.

Close -up of the blossom

According to Helen Curran, Assistant Curator of the Sydney Museum, in her delightful article "The Dream Tree: jacaranda, Sydney icon"  it has come to us via those intrepid plant hunters of the C19th. with the first specimens arriving in Australia from London. Curran explains how the tree became so ubiquitous despite early difficulties. I especially like the following quote:
“The jacaranda flames on the air like a ghost,
Like a purer sky some door in the sky has revealed.”

Excerpt from ‘The Jacaranda’ by Douglas Stewart, from The Dosser in Springtime (1946) 

The Jacaranda is certainly popular in Perth. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw all that purple. You don’t see many in Tasmania because they don’t like frosts, but it is said that on the mainland you can literally follow the progress of spring by the successive blooming of the Jacarandas along the coast. Grafton, about 600 Km north of Sydney has been celebrating their flowering for 81 years with its annual Jacaranda Festival  in late October, but Perth has been holding its own for the past sixteen years.
Older suburbs have the finest specimens
Here it doesn’t take place until late in November - last weekend to be precise, but unfortunately I didn’t hear about it until the day after, when we were on our way to a Christmas Festival.

Around Darlington
And another
Purple haze above and below -Jacaranda season is very shortlived
The early settlers (at least since the 1930's anyway, according to Curran) must have really appreciated those magnificent trees as you see many fine examples in older suburbs. Applecross, where the festival is held,  has a whole avenue of them. You do have to be quick though to catch those Jacarandas in bloom. I had planned to go back and take more pictures (I seem to be saying that a lot lately), but after only about a week which included several days of weather above 30o C, many of the blossoms had fallen and the trees were starting to look threadbare.

Purple petals on the footpath behind the Midland Town Hall
There's still a flush of purple in the Hills
The ephemeral beauty of the Jacaranda reminds me of that equally short -lived lilac that blooms all over Siberia in Spring. What a pity it doesn't seem to have a scent.


PS You'll be pleased to know that the Bobtail depicted on the previous page was not '"our" lizard, the one that gave me the fright of my life a couple of years ago when its large reptillian head appeared behind the roses I was weeding. I saw it again yesterday - my youngest son could probably tell you whether it was a girl or a boy. It was snacking on a snail. This is good because the snails aren't my friends anymore. I've noticed that they are responsible for the big black spots that appear on the leaves of the roses and sometimes you find them curled up right inside the flower heads or destroying the buds before they open.