Weekly photo challenge: Unusual

Back in May I blogged about a new sculpture that was set in place on Anzac Parade in Canberra as a memorial for the Boer War in South Africa (1899 – 1902). Before the official opening, the sculpture was covered in black plastic, or rather the sculptures, all four of them. It was a weird sight, especially at dusk and in the evening. The sculptures were covered for a couple of weeks, and looked like this:

Is it unusual to cover a sculpture in black plastic before a big reveal?

At last at the end of May the plastic was removed and now we have this magnificent arrangement to admire as we drive or walk past:

The sculptor, Louis Laumen, created four bronze riders and horses that for all the world appear to actually be riding out from the gum trees and down the slope towards the road. From a distance they look life-size but they’re actually larger than life. A short path at the back lets us walk around the entire group and touch the horses and riders.

Thanks to Lignum Draco for posting this photo challenge on WordPress.

Changing Seasons: July

Canberra, July.

Eight-thirty. One degree. Fog lifting.

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.

Anzac Parade, Canberra, up to the Australian War Memorial and Mt Ainslie, winter

 

Check out Cardinal Guzman’s blog for July in Norway: https://cardinalguzman.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/the-changing-seasons-july-2017/

Changing Seasons: June

June in Canberra.

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.

Cardinal Guzman’s ‘Changing Seasons’ challenge: check it out for more seasonal photos.

Weekly photo challenge: Heritage

In Canberra there’s a street that exists because of war. On either side of Anzac Parade there are statues and sculptures to commemorate those men and women who went off to every war that Australia has been part of over the past century and more. At the head of the street is the biggest monument of them all, the Australian War Memorial, not a statue but a building, built to commemorate those who fought in the First World War. Every war has been represented except one. The Boer War in South Africa.

But the need is about to be satisfied for a memorial for the mounted troops that fought there between 1899 and 1902. The sculptor, Louis Laumen, has created four bronze riders and horses for the commission. They are in place on Anzac Parade, but will remain covered in black plastic until the official opening on 31st May.

Until then we’ll be seeing phantom riders at dusk.

Beside the statues, a verse by A. B. Paterson (Banjo Paterson) reminds us of the courage of those who volunteered to fight in South Africa:

When the dash and the excitement and the novelty are dead,
And you’ve seen a load of wounded once or twice,
Or you’ve watched your old mate dying – with the vultures overhead,
Well, you wonder if the war is worth the price.
And down along Monaro now they’re starting out to shear,
I can picture the excitement and the row,
But they’ll miss me on the Lachlan when they call the roll this year,
For we’re going on a long job now.

A.B. Paterson 1902

The war memorial building and Anzac parade have National Heritage listing to ensure this tribute to the sacrifices by many generations of Australians is recognised and protected.

Thanks WordPress for prompting me to think about heritage for the photo challenge.

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Changing Seasons: May

May in Canberra.

I could show you the maple tree in my back garden, every one of its leaves orange, and little helicopter seedpods hanging here and there.

I could show you two learner sailboats trying to make their way across Lake Burley Griffin in a total absence of breeze under a perfect blue sky.

I could show you the view across the lake to Parliament House with orderly plantings of trees turning red and yellow amid the green pines on the foreshore.

But this shot sums up May in Canberra. The sky is blue, the sun is still warm if you’re directly under it, but the air is cold in the shade. Cold in our houses. Canberra has a reputation for cold houses. So at lunchtime today I went out to sit on our back deck in the full sun – absolutely delightful. But my poor neighbours, their house catches no sun front or back. They had two options: turn on the heating or sit on the roof.

Is it comfortable up there, I asked. No, they said, but the view is great.

Cardinal Guzman’s ‘Changing Seasons’ challenge: check it out for more seasonal photos from bloggers.

Changing Seasons: April

April in Canberra.

In many parks and gardens, autumnal trees flaunt their red and yellow leaves or let them drop onto a thickening blanket of colour.

My back yard is scattered with leaves from a crepe myrtle and ornamental grape, plants so beautiful in colour yet so sad as the branches strip off their leaves, remaining bare and to all appearances dying.

But looking at the trees lining Anzac Parade today I saw only the green of our native trees that don’t hibernate for the winter. On the lush lawns of the Australian War Memorial the white chairs are all in place for the Anzac Day services which more and more people are attending every year. On the day, Tuesday 25th April, great numbers of visitors will fill the chairs, and those who stand on the roads behind will watch and hear the services on huge screens. I popped down there this morning while the crowd size was navigable. And with the weather forecasters predicting an 80% chance of rain on the actual day, I realised that today (with about 0% chance of rain) was better suited for photographing April in Canberra for Cardinal Guzman’s ‘Changing Seasons’ challenge.

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Weekly photo challenge: Dense

Dense growth in a garden attracts birds. This morning, passing one of my Hakea trees, I heard munching sounds and looked into the branches. There, right in front of me, not afraid of me, was this Gang-Gang Cockatoo eating Hakea seedpods. It’s a rare treat for anyone in Canberra to see one up close. Higher up in the tree there were sounds of his mate cracking open some pods but she was disguised by leaves. I’ve read that Gang Gangs are left-handers, and indeed the little birdy is eating with his left hand!

By an unpleasant coincidence on this same fine morning when I was enjoying my foresty garden, a government man came to my door to tell me that an Ash tree with a split trunk growing on our nature strip (footpath) has to be cut down. Nooo!

Sixteen years ago when we moved into this house, I rang the government tree people and requested a street tree. Very soon after, they planted a young sapling and I’ve watched it grow into this lovely big tree. Its canopy is green and lush, and birds frequently fly into its branches for safety.

After the man left this morning, I went for a walk and in my absence he came back and sprayed this yellow mark of death on the Ash trunk.

So my morning was bittersweet. I’m so glad I saw the Gang Gang with his wispy red crest enjoying the Hakea trees. And I’m very glad their trunks aren’t marked with a yellow spot.

Thanks WordPress for the photo prompt.

Turgenev translation comparison

Once, I read two sentences that had a silent “Oh wow” effect on me; they were by Turgenev, in his story “The Tryst”. I had never read Turgenev, but now I wanted to know him better. I met Turgenev through Rebecca McClanahan in her very useful book, Word Painting. She quoted from “The Tryst” to illustrate description-by-negation, or rather she quoted from Isabel F. Hapgood’s translation of Turgenev’s story, without crediting Hapgood. But she should have, for without the translation she would not have known about Turgenev’s skilful repetition in “It was not … not … not”, describing the sound of rustling leaves. Ivan Turgenev’s sketches of provincial Russian life are stories I’ve read and read again in English. Not only are they compelling vignettes of a country I’ve never been to, but his descriptions of closely observed Russian hunters and other forest frequenters hold my attention from beginning to end.

“Turgenev Hunting”, Nikolai Dmitriev-Orenburgsky [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Wondering whether the beauty lay in the translator’s words or the author’s, I went searching for other translations of the same passage. Here are four versions of Turgenev’s description, followed by the translator’s name:

The leaves faintly rustled over my head; from the sound of them alone one could tell what time of year it was. It was not the gay laughing tremor of the spring, nor the subdued whispering, the prolonged gossip of the summer, nor the chill and timid faltering of late autumn, but a scarcely audible, drowsy chatter. (Constance Garnett, 1897)

The leaves were rustling in a barely audible manner overhead; from their sound alone one could tell what season of the year it was. It was not the cheerful, laughing rustle of spring-time, not the soft whispering, not the long conversation of summer, not the cold and timid stammering of late autumn, but a barely audible, dreamy chatter. (Isabel F. Hapgood, 1903)

The leaves scarcely rustled above my head; by their very noise one could know what time of year it was. It was not the happy, laughing tremolo of spring, not the soft murmuration and long-winded talkativeness of summer, not the shy and chill babblings of late autumn, but a hardly audible, dreamy chattering. (Richard Freeborn, 1967)

The leaves were whispering faintly over my head: you could have told the time of year from their whisper alone. It was not the gay, laughing shiver of spring, nor the soft murmur, the long discourse of summer, nor the cold, frightened rustling of late autumn, but a scarcely perceptible, drowsy converse. (Charles and Natasha Hepburn, 1992)

 

Which is the best?

 

Garnett: Her choice of ‘not … nor … nor’ is as good as Hapgood’s ‘not … not … not’. Each word in the two sentences is individual, and most consist of one or two syllables.

Hapgood:  While it’s the translation chosen by Rebecca McClanahan to illustrate the suspense in ‘not … not … not’, it would be better if Hapgood hadn’t used ‘barely audible’ in two consecutive sentences. And ‘rustling’ and ‘rustle’.

Freeborn: Yes, he uses ‘not … not … not’, but there are too many words of three or four syllables, like ‘long-winded talkativeness’. But then ‘The leaves scarcely rustled’ is more concise than Hapgood’s ‘The leaves were rustling in a barely audible manner’.

The Hepburns: They repeat ‘whispering’ and ‘whisper’ in the first sentence, and later in the same sentence their choice of ‘you’ is less literary, less poetic, than ‘one’ which keeps the reader at a distance. Also, ‘could have told the time’ at the beginning of this clause had me thinking of hours; I had to read it again.

 

So, for this little exercise, Constance Garnett is the better translator, and the one I admire. Or is it Turgenev I admire? Since I can’t read Russian, I’ll never really know. What I do know is that comparisons of translations often send me back to Constance Garnett.

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P.S. I’m writing this in autumn, but not in Russia. There are no shy and chill babblings nor is there a cold, frightened rustling. It’s a stunningly beautiful day here in Canberra where the only rustling is from the currawong, shifting branches as he eats my figs!

Changing Seasons: March

On Friday night at 6.30 daylight saving time, the autumnal sky over Lake Burley Griffin was amazing as the last sunbeams shone on the clouds, a perfect backdrop for an air display by a RAAF F/A-18 Hornet. There were two displays on two nights. These photos are from the first night, the rehearsal! The official show was last night, an introduction to our annual fireworks show, Skyfire.

It was spectacular, it was loud. The Hornet flew low over the lake, making several passes back and forth and around, and exiting with a vertical twirling ascension to the clouds. I took the first photo as soon as I caught sight of it at 6:35:53 pm, and the last one as it disappeared into the clouds at 6:41:22. About 6 minutes of entertainment. Not that the F/A-18 was built to amuse us.

The ducks on the lake did not bat a wing at this big noisy bird flying over them. Other birds flew up into the sky that is naturally theirs, and were mistaken by humans for the jet.

The Changing Seasons photo challenge is from blogger Cardinal Guzman.

Australia Day 2017

 

To celebrate Australia Day today, 26th January, in our nations’s capital, Canberra, there are the official government-organised events like the Australian of the Year ceremony at Parliament House (last night), a Great Aussie Day barbecue breakfast (this morning), and, later, a citizenship ceremony, a flag raising ceremony, kids entertainment, bands, and finally fireworks.

The winners of the four categories in the Australian of the Year Awards deserve recognition for their many years of service, offering solutions to hard-to-solve problems of often-forgotten groups of people. The principal award of Australian of the Year was given last night to Professor Alan Mackay-Sim for his ground-breaking work in repairing spinal cord injuries.

This year’s winners were all quiet achievers. Today there’s another Australian here in Canberra who’s quietly getting our attention, a patriotic man who’s not just flying one Australian flag on his car or his house for the week as some do. This guy, pensioner David Goodall (who prefers to be called Spurs), has arranged a display of Australian flags on his front lawn and footpath – there are 229 bunting flags, one for every year since Captain Arthur Phillip planted his own flag, the Union Jack, in the soil of Sydney Cove and claimed this land for England. Spurs has also displayed flags for each Australian state and territory.

The facing neighbour has allowed him to set up chairs for those who wish to visit and be present at 9.30 this morning for an indigenous Welcome to Country ceremony by a local man, Wally.

When I went for a look last weekend, I admired the tall blue agapanthus lilies growing along his front fenceline. Don’t they blend well with the blue of the flags! I wonder if that’s a coincidence…

Here I like the red reflections on the tinder-dry Canberra grass as the sun shone through the Union Jack crosses in our flag corners. Spurs set up the whole display, paying for everything himself and writing all the signs and slogans. A number of them are written with everyday Australian expressions like “Good on ya mate” or with facts from Australia’s 229-year European history, but there’s also a tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives for this country:

The display is at 9 Biffin Street, Cook. Any Canberrans who enjoy driving past displays of Christmas lights can now extend the pleasure to Australia Day, for Spurs intends to do this every year for the rest of his life in Biffin Street. Good on ya mate!

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