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.

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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.

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Some of the fat snowflake clumps are flattened…

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…the first shy daffodil heads are about to unfold, and the fallen autumn leaves escape the wind by huddling amongst new iris leaves.

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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.

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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.

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As I look back towards Mt Royal across the sunlit lake-trapped sea of clouds, I cherish such short-lived effects.

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Especially as I know there are only a limited number of times that I will make this trip before I move.

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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).

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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…

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…like the last low rays of the sunset through my front door leadlight…

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…or the coloured glass window in front of my desk.

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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!

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Of course the most envied critters here on cold wintry days are the pouched babies…

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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.

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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.

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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?

Just kidding.

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On the first day of July I woke to our coldest morning yet this year — 4ºC — and light patches of frost.

Frost always surprises me as to where it is found and where not, but its decorative and novelty values are always appreciated here.

My favourite rock with its gloriously complex lichen adornments seemed more in place with the fine whiteness on the grass. In fact, the lichens seem brighter with the chill.

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Certain substances attract frost more than others; I know compost and mulch does, and here the fallen leaves blown into a drain are limned distinctly and individually white.

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Most of my yard doesn’t get frost but lichens appear in odd places all over it. This rock in the midst of the grass up the hill always catches my eye because of its spectacled pair.

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The Crimson Rosellas are the main parrot here, but they aren’t always in as much evidence as they’ve been lately.

A group of five has been hanging about together, perching close by each other, if not all in the same tree. 

Three were quite enough for this young Red Cedar, especially as the recent shower was still weighing down its leaves. The others had to make do with the floppy vegie garden fence top.

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A few grey days later I spotted a group of birds silhouetted in the leafless Nashi tree. Hard to see just what sort of birds, but there were five…

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From a different aspect, with less contrasting backlighting, they were indeed the Rosella gang. I wonder where they’ll turn up next…

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Taking turns

June 22, 2014
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As I rarely put bird seed in my makeshift feeder, the Crimson Rosellas just keep their eye on it.  As the weather gets colder, I notice the wallabies are eating plants they’d previously left alone when the growth of grass and preferred plants was lush. Feed is getting scarce. This morning one Rosey landed on […]

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Natural creativity

June 14, 2014
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When I look closely at the things nature creates, I am very often overwhelmed with admiration. For example, this side view showed me the superfine and tiny holding points of this bejewelled web, suspended from the possum-chomped twigs of the climbing rose. Like upturned arms, ready to have the wool wound on for grandma… I […]

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Man-made beauty

June 7, 2014
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On the way up to my Mountain, I drive around a man-made lake. It’s actually Glennies Creek Dam, but the recreational part is called Lake St Clair. The highest knob towards the left is Mount Royal, sort of where I am heading for home. If you ignore the bits where the dead trees still stand […]

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Passersby?

May 31, 2014
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Heading outside late at night, I heard a telltale heavy rustle amongst the leaves of the Crepuscule rose that clmibs up one end of the verandah. A guilty Brushtail Possum scrambled up under the rafters, hoping I couldn’t see it. Which I couldn’t, until I looked around the post — and used a torch. Unfair […]

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