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.
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.
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.
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.
Until last weekend there was a hole in my soul, a beachy space that I was eager to fill. I had not been to the beach at all in December or January when the surf, sand and sun were calling me. Once upon a time the beach was a magnet whose pull I could not resist, but now I’m growing older, and have other priorities. That is, I can no longer be bothered demanding that I be taken to the sea.
Now it’s February. All the families and kids have returned to the cities to start the school year, which means the beaches are empty at times, ideal for reflection and winding down. On Saturday morning we drove out of the city, through two country towns, rose up the mountain into the clouds, crawled along blindly through their whiteness, descended towards the coast and got to our cabin in time for lunch.
In the previous week the temperature had been up to 41 degrees and down to 17. On Saturday it rained (lightly) as we strolled alone along the sand. The tide was high, lapping about the strip of rocks that protruded from beneath the water and stretched all the way to Barlings Island, an Aboriginal heritage area. If I were a snorkeller I’d go there because it’s a good place to see fish swimming through a giant underwater kelp forest.
The next morning the clouds had gone, the tide was low, and I said to my husband: “Walk to the island.” And he did.
Almost there, he struck a narrow chest-deep channel. But he was fully clothed and turned back.
What a man! I say “Do this” and he does it.
The Changing Seasons photo challenge is the brainchild of Cardinal Guzman. Hop over and see his amazing shots of Oslo in February.
Cardinal Guzman has put up a photo challenge that seems challenging enough for me as a non-photographer.
He has two versions. I’ve chosen the easy path:
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
This morning I was in the Botanic Gardens here in Canberra and was stopped in my tracks by this Corymbia ficifolia. Family: Myrtaceae. Dwarf orange. Sometimes called Red Flowering Gum.
The Canberra Botanic Garden has nothing but native plants. The gardeners have found ways to grow plants from all parts of Australia, even rainforest plants in a lower part that is reached by stone staircases, a place that’s kept dark and wet to encourage rainforest trees and ferns to grow. And up in the bright sunlight there are trees like this orange Corymbia ficifolia, a native from a small area near Walpole, way down on the very south-west coast of Western Australia, and here it is growing on the opposite side of the country in a different climate. Bravo, Botanic Gardeners!
The photo is my interpretation of January in Australia. Bright orange native flowers, clear blue sky, hot morning.