Every big city has its hip district. Canberra adopted this concept not too long ago, creating one in Braddon, right next to the city centre. Of the many cafés here, Lonsdale Street Roasters is my favourite. What does it have to do with winter? Well the coffee machine is close to the door that’s constantly opening and closing from 6.30am with the flow and ebb of coffee addicts, so on chilly July mornings even the barista wears long johns under his shorts.
And the barista’s mother sits in her house with a large gas heater at her back, playing with pens and inks, writing out the slogan for the 21st-century coffee culture which she is happy to be part of.
In the city centre an ice skating rink is presently being set up for the school holidays and will open tomorrow. The temperatures are not low enough for our lakes to freeze but an artificial frozen pond will stay solid with a bit of help. No skating is allowed today but I did spot this workman (in black) walking gingerly across the ice.
Behind the rink is the ACT Legislative Assembly from which the pollies will have a great view of the ice skaters, perhaps even ice dancers.
Here are a couple of girls in beanies putting up a white picked fence for that quaint northern look. The blue skies of past days have disappeared behind clouds, and rain is forecast, but children won’t mind. Skating in rain would probably be fun. Snow would be better.
So, as the sign on the marquis says: Get Your Skates On!
This morning I met my son for coffee at 9.30 and noted that everyone in the café was clad in coats and scarves. Many of them were in black, pretty typical of winter-wear here. Plenty of shops have racks of black, suitable for this city of public servants. In fact, in my early years in Canberra I wore black because I thought it was right: black turtle-necks, black overcoats, black skirts and black jeans. Then I realised I was conforming. Now I avoid it.
Here’s my son wearing a grey-black jumper, but the man behind him has a bright yellow jacket on that makes him look like he’d be at home on the sea. He’s the only dab of colour in Sfoglia this morning. (Even the Italian owner is wearing all black, including his beard.) Meanwhile at the table beside us there were several workers on a morning tea break, all in black.
Today was a little warmer. At 10am it was 3 degrees, up a degree on yesterday morning. And this afternoon it was 13 deg when I was pruning roses. I was wearing my fluffy jumper which keeps me snug when the temperature is a single figure, but when I started to work up a sweat I had two choices: take off the jumper or go inside (Canberra houses are cold, even with the heating on).
Around the rose bushes there are a number of deciduous trees looking very bare right now. An idea came to me to put down my secateurs and take a photo or two of the leafless limbs, which made me think about a curious contrast: when winter comes I don more and more layers while the trees shed every single leaf.
The mass of bare branches behind me in the photo is a crepe myrtle that emerged from the lawn shortly after we moved into this house many moons ago. The previous owner had shorn it off at the ground and assumed he’d executed it and death was certain. Well, you can’t keep a good crepe myrtle down. You can see how large it is now! In summer it’s pretty in pink and drops a lovely blanket of flowers on the grass below.
I got a lot of work done today, pruning rose bushes, sweeping dead leaves off the deck, mopping floors and more. Here’s another benefit of living in Canberra – low temps make me a high achiever.
Canberra has a pretty ordinary reputation for the capital city of an awesome country. Why? It’s not on the coast (unlike every other Australian capital), it’s a place of politicians and political decisions, and it’s uncomfortably cold for three months of the year and moderately cold for another six, too much cold for coast lovers.
Warm as toast in my coat and scarf this morning, I looked up to the clear blue sky and felt nothing less than gratitude for my Canberra life. If I give you five photos this week, one a day, you’ll get a glimpse of things I love about this city, even in its winter.
Today, 1st July, began cold and clear. At 10am it was 2 degrees and the leaves in the car park were white with frost. As the sun moved across them, the frost melted, the leaves turned soggy and wet but beautifully golden brown. Crouching close to snap the photo, I heard a passerby ask “What did you find?”. “Melting frost,” I replied. “Ah, Canberra,” she said, and walked on.
Frosty gum leaves and oak leaves, fallen side by side.
I love this place. My face is icy but my neck is warmly wrapped. After days at home with a winter head cold, I’m out for a walk, cooling my cabin fever. In this early morning stroll along Anzac Parade and down to the lake, I pass ten people, each of the encounters some minutes apart. It’s strangely quiet, Canberra. It doesn’t have the buzz of the big cities, it doesn’t have the bustle. Later in the morning there’ll be buses of tourists arriving to view the memorials on Anzac Parade, and public servants will be walking between buildings and car parks. But right now as a pedestrian, I have the footpaths of the Parade virtually to myself.
A local radio station, Queanbeyan FM, frequently plays a snippet from Troy Cassar-Daley’s song I love this place. I know why they play it.
Check out Cardinal Guzman’s blog for July in Norway: https://cardinalguzman.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/the-changing-seasons-july-2017/
It’s officially the first month of winter in Australia. Here in this part of the country that’s more wintry than most, many of the trees are leafless, the maximum today is 13, feels like 8, the public servants still run morning, noon and night even when the wind is blowing at 35 knots, and if you’re standing beside the lake taking photos of the landscape, you get wet.
When I read the weekly photo challenge to take a photo at the golden hour of sunrise or sunset, I thought, well, I already know about sunset light, so why not make an effort to study the light of sunrise. But to do that I’d have to get up at sunrise on Sunday. I had no intention of doing that.
Then, this morning at ten to seven, after six hours’ sleep, I woke to see my room suffused with pink. At first I ignored it. Too tired. But I dared to open my eyes again a few minutes later and the light in the room was tinged with reddish purple. I jumped out of bed and raced to find my camera, knowing that coloured light is fleeting. You can see that I took the first photo at three minutes past seven – it took me that long to get ready for my cold back yard.
The official sunrise time was 7:10am, but Canberra was pretty in pink before that moment. Not really a ‘golden hour’; more of a ‘rosy hour’. When the actual moment came at 7:10, the pink glow had mostly gone, faded to grey. It’s mid-winter here; the temperature was about 6 degrees, a few degrees warmer than usual for this time of morning; the sky today is completely covered. I know the sun was behind these rosy photos but I never saw it.