Twixt autumn and winter

Autumn is usually that settled period before winter arrives in earnest but this year it seems different. Spring is notorious for its fickle nature and the way that winter really doesn’t want to be gone too soon. A fellow blogger got me thinking about the time between seasons with his series on micro-seasons. This seems to be rooted in the Japanese culture unlike our western ideal of four seasons. We cannot mold the seasons to suit our requirements so maybe accepting these subtle or not so subtle periods twixt the seasons makes good sense.

Looking through my photos I was reminded of those occasions and activities that fall into autumn. Here in Victoria we start with a public holiday known as Labour Day in March. Then comes April holidays and the marking of Easter on the Christian calendar. On April 25 we also remember sacrificial love and duty to God and country when World War One broke out and so many took up arms to protect us. Sadly World War Two followed and other conflicts continue. ANZAC Day is not about glorifying war but honouring those who served. Younger generations of Australians and New Zealanders are learning about this part of their history. This year with no COVID restrictions more than 300 people turned out for the dawn service in our small town followed by the traditional gun fire breakfast usually a bacon and egg sandwich. Later in the morning there is a procession where veterans and other community groups and individuals are proudly involved.

The view from my bedroom window is changing with the arrival of foggy mornings and hot air balloons on crisp clear mornings. We see a red fox slinking through the grass in search of food and other times a family group of kangaroos waiting for the sun to arrive.

May is also when we celebrate Mother’s Day in Australia with all its commercial focus on pampering Mums everywhere. I managed a trip interstate to visit my own Mum. Last year, the borders between the states were being closed due to COVID and I just got home only hours before they were. I enjoy the larger open farming spaces of where I grew up. While visiting there was lots of burning off of stubble to make way for the next lot of crops. There is very little cropping near where I live now.

A new array of autumn colours has emerged while other trees shed their leaves freely. The sound of chainsaws echo in the valley as firewood is gathered for the coming cold months. The latest load of Black Angus steers has departed. Our birdlife changes with the seasons and weather. The colourful and cheeky King Parrots come searching for some wild bird seed. The weather has been a mixture of sun and rain with snow forecast this week on the nearby mountain. No doubt winter will arrive soon enough and with it comes the thought that we are almost halfway through another year!

Nature is not only what is visible to the eye – it shows the inner images of the soul – the images on the back side of the eyes.

-Edvard Munch (1863-1944) Norwegian painter and printmaker

Easter a time of hope

Eggs, chocolate, or straight from the chicken represent new life on Easter Day

We enjoyed an Easter without lockdowns here in Victoria and many are making the most of this beautiful autumnal weather here in my hometown. Our church was packed today with adults and children to celebrate Easter Day. We have a tradition at our Anglican church where we enjoy wine made by one of our parishioners and home-made chicken sandwiches after the the service. It was so lovely to see families out and about enjoying quality time together.

There is a sense of hope and looking forward to the future after a difficult two years. Here’s to us being kinder and more loving towards one another and speaking out against evil and injustice. Happy Easter to all.

Black and white focus on Paris

An iconic landmark in Paris which can seen from many parts of the city.
Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.
A carousel seems to be a common sight in French cities and Paris is no exception.
Waiting for a fare on the Champs-Elysees.
Arc de Triomphe is a wonderful structure that sits in the centre of a busy, chaotic roundabout that works.

Grey clouds here today prompted me to explore the beauty of black and white images of places I loved and as a reminder of travel before COVID.

Shades of Autumn

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” – Unknown

The clocks were turned back during the first weekend of April and it seems to have coincided with a definite change in the seasons. There is a coolness in the evening air despite some days of sunshine. The mid-March temperatures in the low 30s and annoying blow flies seem to have disappeared here in Victoria. But April can produce some stunning Autumn weather to enjoy over the Easter holidays. Will wait and see. We have avoided floods here but our hearts go out to those especially in NSW who have experienced severe flooding twice within a month.

For me autumn offers a calming time of year. It is subtle and yet spectacular as it reveals its hidden beauty. From green to gold, yellow to red. Here in North East Victoria the colours of autumn tend to really come into their own about mid April to early May. Then the great shedding of leaves starts as we approach winter. Raking is one way to get a good work out!

Over the weekend I explored our 25 acres with camera in hand for different perspectives and to capture the various tints and hues of the changing season. I also managed to find glorious brightly-coloured flowers.

There was also a visit to one of my favourite local places, Jamieson, an historic Victorian township on the river and in the bush-clad hills that were once home to many searching for gold. My husband and I attended the once a month Anglican church service which was followed by lunch in a nearby café.

Whatever season you may be going through, remember to enjoy the one you are going through now!

Welcoming Autumn

The golden hues of autumn grasses against grey skies.

A run of hot, humid days accompanied by thunderstorms has been the norm for most of March. A wetter than usual winter and spring created unprecedented grass growth. Good news for those who had hay to cut and bale, but for others on smaller acreage like ourselves, keeping on top of the mowing is a constant task. When there was minimal rainfall, grass growth was a lot slower. But seeing our dams full and household tanks almost at capacity, we are not complaining.

We had hot and dry conditions for our annual campdraft just gone, which made it a top weekend for competitors and spectators alike. Being on the committee kept me busy with various activities over the two days. I will do a separate post on the Australian equestrian sport of campdrafting and share some photos.

With its still calm weather conditions, autumn also marks a period of planned burn-offs in our high country. While this is designed to reduce the fuel load in the bush and mountain areas, the smoke haze can make one feel like they are living in an ashtray. It has been a long time since I have hung out in a smokey journo’s bar. I used to go home and hang my good jacket on the clothesline to get rid of the smell. I couldn’t afford to pay for the dry cleaners too often!

However, the smoke haze does provide some superb sunset photo opportunities. Another night we saw this large, red glow in the distance due to a burn-off in some stubble that flared up. Earlier this week, a storm and some rain cleared the air. Another photo opportunity.

This morning was the coolest start for several months, but it has been a lovely warm, sunny day. One can sense a change in the seasons and see the changes in the leaves of grapevines and various trees. Daylight saving is due to end the first weekend in April, which will see a return to being lighter early in the morning and becoming dark much sooner in the late afternoon.

On one side of the world, spring is bursting forth while here we prepare for the coming winter months. That includes sourcing more fire food and putting away the summer clothes. As restrictions and lockdowns disappear and we are told we need to learn to live with COVID, one dares to dream of travelling to warmer climes and visiting friends and family over the coming weeks.

Late afternoon and suddenly, the smoke haze returns, clinging to the sides of the valleys. I better close windows and doors to keep the smell out and rescue the washing from outside before it absorbs the smokey aroma. Happy weekend everyone.

Country views

Surrounded by nature in my country home.

Some random images taken around and near my home in the High Country of Victoria. I love the changing natural light from sunrise to sunset. The changes in the seasons and the abundance of trees and other plants is also a joy to watch. The Delatite River is a delightful place to cool off or cross by bicycle. It is summer now and the lush greenness of spring has disappeared as the baking sun dries off the grass. It also brings outs the snakes including tigers and browns. We just chased one off now while having our coffee on the verandah. Snakes are a protected native species in Victoria but sometimes people will kill them if they get too near their house or sheds. We also have friends who have sadly lost dogs and even horses to snake bite so it does pay to be wary when out and about. Just like COVID we are learning to live with it!

Tawny Frogmouth master of disguise in Aussie bush

Living on our property in rural Victoria near the alpine area, we are often treated to a variety of Australian birdlife ranging from bright blue Superb Fairy Wrens and raucous Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and occasionally the owl-like Tawny Frogmouth. The latter is a nocturnal bird that requires a keen eye to spot during the day. The tawny frogmouth is able to master the art of camouflage and blend in with the bark of a gum tree tucked in a hollow. My husband and I were thrilled to find the adult male pictured above in one of our large gum trees next to our dam last year. He graced us with his presence for more than a week, and his distinctive deep booming “Oom-oom-oom-oom” noise could often be heard in the evening.
Apparently, if they sense danger, Tawny Frogmouths can hiss loudly and puff themselves up to look much bigger with enlarged eyes and wide-open beaks. However, the best defence they have is in their ability to vanish into their surroundings. The mottled grey feathers against the matching bark of the tree also make them hard to photograph during the day. I love his closed eyes as he tries to ignore the world.
But come nightfall, and that sleepy pose is replaced with the action of flight and search for food. I assumed that frogs were on their menu because our dam is full of noisy croaking, especially during spring. The name Tawny Frogmouth relates to their appearance. The “large flattened, triangular, hooked beak which is olive-grey in colour, and the huge frog-like gape is used to catch insects” is the description provided by the animalcorner.org website. The birds also go through two different plumage colour changes from silver-grey to being russet-red.

Tawny frogmouths are the masters of camouflage and hard to spot or photograph high up in the gum trees


Our visitor disappeared, although we could still hear faint sounds of “Oom-oom-oom-oom” from a distance for another week or so.
Then over a week ago, we had a surprise visitor land on our verandah close to our house early evening when it was going dark. My husband spotted the young Tawny Frogmouth while outside and called me out to look. I grabbed my camera and was thrilled to take some closeups of this downy little creature. We think our outdoor lights must have attracted him to try his luck at catching insects. It was fairly obvious this bird was still on his L-plates for flying and not long out of the nest. One notable aspect was the different noise to an adult bird which sounded more like a croak.
We didn’t want to stress him out too much, so we quickly moved away and were surprised when one of the parents landed on our verandah as if to say, come on home now. Lights were switched off, and we can only assume that the pair flew off together. There haven’t been any sightings since, so we hope they are alright.
I found a delightful video (link below) about these wonderful unusual, but endearing Australian birds which deserve to win our affection. Makes me appreciate seeing them in the wild so much more.

References

https://www.bushheritage.org.au/species/tawny-frogmouth

https://animalcorner.org/animals/tawny-frogmouth/

Summer sizzle

Sun-dried hills signal hot summer days.

By Lynn Elder

The change of seasons comes in a rush
Of hot air and wilted grasses in the bush.
No need to clear out the ash and stoke the fire
As ceiling fans whir above, and with a beer
In hand the farmer wipes the free-flowing sweat
From his sun-beaten face, and without a beat
Flicks off the pesky blowflies settled on his work shirt.
His wife tucks her tea towel in the band of her skirt,
Then says as she leans wearily against the kitchen wall.
 "It's too bloody hot to eat anything at all!".