Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The nights are black, the frosts are crisp and the days are bright. We are well into June but far from midwinter and the cold is merely creeping into place. The temperature gets down to zero or below overnight and the frosts are white hard in the morning. But they do not last long. The sun melts the ice quickly and greens the whitening of night before late morning. It is a lovely time of year with intermittent rain, sometimes heavy, sometimes light, mist and fog and crawling cloud and often breathless expanses of clear blue sky.
The days are around 15C, sometimes as low as 11C or as high as 17C but not too cold. It is the wind which chills, when it comes, whispering of the land so far away to our South …. Antarctica. It bites the cheeks to make them flush and numbs the fingers, but only because here, in Australia, we do not really dress for the cold as if we do not quite believe in it. And yet it is cold, colder in a way than northern Europe or North America for there the buildings are heated and always cosy warm while we Australians barely remember to put on warmer clothes as winter takes possession of our days and nights.
Once you have lived with central heating it is hard to live without it. Once you have lived with central heating it is difficult to understand, why, perhaps Tasmania excepted, Australians have not bothered with it in the cooler regions. Perhaps it was because they could. In Europe and North America there was no choice because the winters were so severe and here there is a choice because they are, by comparison, so much milder.
The potatoes in the garden down by the creek are draped in sodden fall across the earth …. The frosts have done them in. Strangely the spinach leaves are untouched. They must be stronger or hold less water than the potato leaves. The nasturtiums have suffered the same fate as the potatoes and no doubt for the same reasons.
The garden grows quiet as leaves drop silently and something akin to an endless sleep, or at least one to last the Winter, subdues all growth. The branches are barer by the day and while for some it is sleep, for others it may well be death due to the long and vicious drought. That is a truth we will know in Spring.
It is lovely to have this change of season, where leaves are offered to the chilled ground and bare-branched integrity is spread against the brilliant green of lawn and paddock. Through the measured arms of skeletal trees the world spreads bright and green and rich with life. The smoke drifts and hovers from the chimney and perfumes the air with eucalypt and pear from logs we have gathered and saved and cut. The fire spits and cracks behind me and the days drift slowly in that way of waiting which is Winter. It is a sombre, settled, sated time when there is room to rest, space to dream and time to reflect. It is the slowness of Winter which allows everything the time to gather strength, and enthusiasm for the rush of Spring and the dreams of Summer.


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