If you are Australian, or at least a resident of this beautiful country, you have doubtless noticed that there are a lot of songs and poems all along the same theme of ‘dusty’, ‘red soil’, ‘droughts’ and ‘flooding rains’. You will have heard a lot of them over the last few days, as Australians everywhere took time off work to celebrate what is, despite these aspects remembered in verse, a truly beautiful country. Even if you aren’t Australian, then you might have noticed and wondered just exactly what this whole preoccupation is about.
Now, over the course of this Australia Day long weekend, we have enjoyed pleasant rain, on and off, just hard enough to be filling our depleted dams and water tanks gradually, and just soft enough to enjoy a pleasant walk around the bush. We’ve managed to fit in a small amount of gardening, and Matt has been doing some gentle maintenance on the tanks to ensure that as much of the rain as possible makes its way through the filters. All in all, a lovely, restful weekend – with some of the pressure off watching the fire conditions in our local area…
…but, we have friends in Victoria who are on high alert as hot conditions and strong winds are fanning fires that started not far from where they live during the course of last week, while other friends are weathering the storms in Queensland and Northern New South Wales, with torrential rain – yes, flooding rains – and damaging winds.
For our friends, so far, so good, but it does seem like Australia is truly living up to her reputation right now. No time off for them to celebrate.
This is a land of extremes, and recent years have been a real testament to how powerful a force nature is in the psyche and lives of those who are born or choose to live here. We are courting a tempestuous and demanding lover.
For us, the summer has been hot and dry, following early rains and strong summer growth, creating sizeable ‘fuel loads’ in The Valley. The fields slowly changed from vivid green to shining gold, under an unfalteringly blue sky. Beautiful, but…
I can’t get over how quickly our garden seems to have ‘greened up’ again. Only a week and a half ago, I was quietly lamenting that I had no flowers to brighten the house when my friends came to visit. Now, all our roses are putting on a fine show.
It won’t be long until nearby Canberra will be putting on her Autumn mantle and the suburbs will be clothed in hues of red and gold (if you chance to visit, go up to Red Hill or Mt Ainslie and look across towards the city from one of the lookouts) and the days will be less harsh.
One or two of our garden trees will gradually change before shedding their leaves, but our bush will mostly be clothed in soft mists, curling around the greys and greens of the eucalypts and damping the darkness of the black wattles.
Before that, the weatherman tells us, things will warm up again and we can’t afford to lower our defences yet. We still have to be vigilant. We still have a lot of work to do, tidying up the bush directly around the garden.
As for our friends, north and south, they have a lot more work to do right now, and there are a lot of Australians starting the year suffering the shock of losing loved ones, homes and livelihoods in the wake of fires and storms.
I do love a sunburnt country… but not so much the droughts and flooding rains. A little restraint might be nice.