On my last day here on this mountain, nature is turning it all on for me. A little glimpse of the things that symbolise what I love most here.
Wallabies and their joeys were all around, the camellias and bulbs were still in flower, and the bush beyond was glistening with sunshine and dew.
The spring-fed primary perched swamp was full of water, even after the long dry spell, and the mighty ancient Angophora arched out over it as protectively as ever.
Last week there was a light dusting of snow on the higher mountains opposite… very light, but still…
Next week I will be in my new mountainside home, with different wildlife and mountain views — and a creek! — to share with you all. I look forward to sharing my discoveries of its nature.
As my last week here begins with sunshine — for a change — I have been snapping the wallaby mums and joeys as they feed their way over the ‘lawn’. I shall miss them.
This very leggy young one (above) was unsteady out of the pouch, but nibbling along beside mum in beween ducking its head back into the pouch for a drink. It could barely fit under her; she ignored it when she wanted to move on. It just had to catch up and re-connect.
But then I noticed that over near the Nashis another joey was still lying in the same position as an hour earlier. Its mum was just sitting nearby.
The joey was clearly dead… and cold. No evident injury. Mum stayed near there for hours, even after the joey was removed. Normally she’d have moved further in her grazing. She looked sad — or was she unwell too?
I wish I knew what they felt or thought…
After a few days of welcome (if inconvenient for moving house) heavy rain, the bare trees are glistening in the morning sunlight, and the bulbs beneath them are struggling to lift their heads.
I love winter birches: for their bark and the lichen it attracts, for their bobbles and fine branchlets and twigs and the raindrops they cherish.
Some of the fat snowflake clumps are flattened…
…the first shy daffodil heads are about to unfold, and the fallen autumn leaves escape the wind by huddling amongst new iris leaves.
The large man-made Lake St Clair can create fabulous effects at times. Sadly, many trees were drowned in its making, but their standing skeletons can be beautiful… and eerie.
If I pass it early enough on a winter morning the sun hasn’t lightened the night’s cloud creations enough for them to totally dissipate and head back up to where they belong.
As I look back towards Mt Royal across the sunlit lake-trapped sea of clouds, I cherish such short-lived effects.
Especially as I know there are only a limited number of times that I will make this trip before I move.
As I pack and move out 36 years’ worth of my magpie collection, the cabin is far emptier than ever since it was built. I am appreciating the texture of the more revealed expanse of mud walls, freshly emphasised with the repainting (with natural paints of course).
I am admiring each treasure before I pack it away, and loving the flowers that winter here gives me for brightening indoors.
Sometimes I’m almost too late to catch a fleeting beauty on offer…
…like the last low rays of the sunset through my front door leadlight…
…or the coloured glass window in front of my desk.
Fortunately some of the most sweetly scented bulb blooms are at their best in Winter. Erlicheer are my favourite, on the plant and in a vase. They have naturalised and multiplied here, need no care, and the critters don’t eat them. In other words, a wonder plant!
Next to my bird bath I planted this Lilli-Pilli to provide some cover for the sipping or bathing birds. The bonus for them — and me — is its abundant crop of pinkish-mauve berries. They make a great ‘flower’ arrangement indoors too, keeping their colour for weeks.
But even the bare vines on my Winter verandah are beautiful in their shapes. The wisteria and the ornamental grape intertwine and twist around themselves and each other to provide a decorative lacework that’s better than any static iron verandah ‘lace’.
I suspect it won’t be long before I lose that linear treat, as the wisteria seems about to bud. Hang on, there’s still a whole month of Winter to go.
A yellow Robin has appeared, flicking itself from one bush or tree or tree guard to another, more like a wind-blown leaf than a bird in flight.
It stays still in any one place for such a short time that it’s hard to get a photo of it. When it lands on the ground you only see its grey back. Usually I see one on its own but I have now spotted two at the same time, although you wouldn’t say they were together.
It appears not to have the grey throat of the illustration in my book, so although on its past seasonal visits I’ve called it a Southern Yellow Robin, now I’m not sure. Could it be a Pale Yellow Robin?
Then one time I heard it make a sound it sat on a small bare tree and went ’ ding, ding, ding, ding,ding, ding…’, non-stop, unvarying, sounding like my Thai temple bell in a stiff breeze.
The magpies and the kookaburras are still about in abundance, although, like this kooka, they get in a huff at all the windy weather we’ve been having. I love the way to kookas go all punk and fluffily fat to keep warm.
Of course the most envied critters here on cold wintry days are the pouched babies…
As the grass grows more slowly, the wallabies and roos are being driven to eat plants they don’t regularly fancy.
This wallaby was being very intense about one of the rosemary bushes, which are all grotesquely pruned each winter to leggy topknots.
Several branches were held firmly together in his paws while he stripped them. Still holding these, he then stretched up to seize yet another with his mouth. ‘Greedy beast!’ I muttered through the window.
Hearing me, he dropped the branches and turned around with an expression of great innocence.
H-mm. I wonder if rosemary-fed wallaby would be a gourmet dish like rosemary-fed lamb?