Morning benediction

Most times I am awake and risen early. Some days it’s more worth it than others. Like today, as the sun rose in just the right spot over the escarpment to be split into morning glory rays of benediction by a perfectly placed tall tree.

Within minutes the sideways rays grew longer, the view brighter. The day was here.

All too soon it settled into the more usual lovely misty layers gently steaming skywards, with only a faint ‘hand of god’ ray visible.

Worth getting up before sunrise to catch that moment? Oh yes.

Moody mountain

One of the reasons I just have to live near mountains is that they never look the same.

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Sunlit or moonglowed, gaily golden, broodingly black or morning misted, their interaction with the sky and the light makes for a perpetually changing visual feast.

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As at my old Mountain home, I can never decide which I prefer. But then, I don’t have to choose, because I can have them all!

Moonrise surprise

It was still daylight, the last of the day’s excessive heat finally withdrawing as the sun sank over the western horizon. 
I was lolling on the verandah couch, home brew in hand, grateful for the fitful cooler breezes reaching me.

When I stood up, I saw that, literally behind my back, the moon had risen in a fully blue sky. It looked to be a perfect sphere.

And close by, a tiny bright dot to which I involuntarily sang the childhood rhyme, ‘Star light, star bright’, and made my wish.

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But closer up, it’s another small sphere, as equally visible as the moon. No star, but Venus, the brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon. 

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I’m not the only one to mistakenly wish on this ‘star’ as Wikipedia says that:

Venus reaches its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset, for which reason it has been referred to by ancient cultures as the Morning Star or Evening Star.

Bathed in cloud

For so long, it seems, we have had dry mornings. Sometimes cold and sometimes not, but never dewy and certainly not shrouded in white wetness like my favourite wake-up sight: Cloudland.

I’ve been missing them.

As I returned from a walk up the hill to release the bush rat from my live trap (he’s destroying my vegie garden!), even my loo looked more romantic when seen through fine muslin veils.

The view from the loo was also greatly enhanced by the eerie backdrop, gently backlit and perfectly still.

But of course, as always here, you have to look at the small wonders as well as the large.

In the brief time before the sun forced the cloud to rise and part company with my forest, I could see that each shrub carried a multi-level and multicultural population of spiders.

Here lived spiders who wove vertical webs like sails, spiders who created horizontal webs as fine as cold morning breath and slung them like hammocks, and spiders who curled up inside leaves instead and hung them like Christmas decorations amongst all the lacy finery.

None of this is visible for long, but long enough to refresh my spirit. Once more, I can say, ‘I wouldn’t be dead for quids!’.

Late afternoon delights

My western mudbrick wall has only two windows, to reduce heat entering. On summer late afternoons I also draw blinds or curtains across them, to complement the outside shade efforts of the Glory Vine’s broad leaves.

Now that the full heat of summer is waning, I can begin to enjoy the effects of this late afternoon light.

One window, very high up under the gable, only receives direct sunlight very late in the day, in long slanting rays. I had covered it with cool coloured flat-based glass balls, stuck on with clear silicone, with the idea of reducing the impression of heat at least, as well as of decoration.

The other is lower, a narrow garden of stained glass rosebuds, made by a friend to my design. I love it when the vine’s green leaves echo those of glass. In Autumn they will echo the pink. It’s a kind of serendipitous value-adding, an unexpected visual double act.

And once that long light enters, tinged rose or green or fiery red, it splashes brightness and colour onto sun-shy interior objects, creating new effects — just for a few minutes. Unintended ephemeral works of art — ‘Still Life with Golden Nugget Squash’.

Shared sunrise

If you look very closely at this roseate morning sky, you can see the tiny white curve of moon towards the upper right hand of the photo. A sunrise sliver, a night-time sky resident caught out by the dawn.

Zoomed as close as my earthbound camera can take me, I can see no sphere beyond the sliver; I must take it on trust.

But the moon glimpse is a bonus to a sunrise that is already expanding into a stunner. Despite all the sunrises I have seen, I am amazed anew.

I am reminded of a ‘Country Viewpoint’ piece I wrote and recorded for ABC Radio National’s Bush Telegraph program a few years ago; the morning moon was full and in the west here, but the delight was the same.

The rewards of early rising

Living in the bush means I don’t need to close my curtains at night — unless I choose to for extra cosiness in winter. So I am woken, not by a clock alarm, but by the pale pearliness of morning seeping into my consciousness, very often beating the kookaburra chorus.

The windows by my bed are low, facing the north-east, and at first eye-opening I greet the nearby densely forested gully and its adjacent ridges, their falling slopes allowing me to look right into their treetops and spy on kookaburras, wattle birds, crimson rosellas, friarbirds, magpies and currawongs.

Read moreShared sunrise

Free diamonds

After showers, if the air is still enough, for a very brief period before the sun soaks up the raindrops — I am given diamonds.

Every tiny leaf holds a trembling drop of water that catches the sunlight to sparkle and shimmer. The magic only works while the light is at a certain angle, so I always know to cherish the moment and run for the camera!
Even my hodge-podge of a vegetable garden fence is transformed; for a few minutes its strips of netting new and old, large and small, cobbled together as a snake barrier, become a thing of beauty.

Hope in rainbows

rainbow-280As with sunsets and sunrises, I never tire of rainbows. I think they are an especially welcome surprise because their clear colour treat occurs after the greys and blacks of rain and storms. The bush sparkles, newly washed, the sky is temporarily free of haze and pollution and the rainbow appears at its best. Very ephemeral magic, that I know has a scientific explanation — but as much of the joy of magic is the surprise, I can ignore that prosaic part.

I have been wishing for there to be one in Copenhagen, so that the world will get the pot of gold it so desperately needs — a worthwhile decision on halting global warming. I support the island nations’ plea for a realistic target, but I fear our Mr Rudd is reality-deaf, politic-prone, and mealy-mouthed.

We of all nations ought to be aiming for high reductions since we are responsible for the most carbon emissions per person, but morality seems as foreign to our government’s actions on this as does the urgent reality of the pace of global warming.

Morning jewels

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Last week gave me a morning of perfect synchronicity between light and water. A dewy night, mist lifting in time for the morning sun to illuminate the thousands of spider webs strung through the trees. They are probably always there, but invisible until diamonds are added.

There were elaborate and intricate multi-storey webs, webs that incorporated bright leaves into their settings …

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— and webs that bent twigs to frame their creations.

By contrast, this week has been hot and dry; no mist, no dew, no diamonds, only the bright morning light.

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This web, a regular at the end of my verandah, shone finely outlined like a giant thumbprint, the classic spiderweb we learn to draw without acknowledging the complexity and range of spidery spinnings.

Rainbow rays


I’m being given the gift of many rainbows this winter, but they’re not in the sky. On my mountain, low cloud rising and and low sun setting makes for some spectacular combinations.

This striped beauty lasted only seconds before the last fine drifts of misty cloud dissipated. Being stuck too much at my desk at present, I was extremely lucky to have looked up at just the right time.

I’m not sure whom I’m addressing, but I have to say ‘Thanks!’ for such gifts.

Recycled rainbows


Not being very technologically savvy, occasionally I ruin a CD, the non-rewritable sort, by accidentally copying the wrong thing.

Rather than waste the disk, I collect them, in twos.

I tie each pair together, back-to back with cotton.Then I hang them from the verandah rafters, theoretically for the amusement of my grandchildren. They spin and catch the light beautifully.

But the other day one caught a rainbow. It was late afternoon, the day had been damp and misty, but the clouds were lifting at last.

First the disk itself trapped the colours as it spun. I was entranced.

But, minutes later, it was reflecting a round rainbow on to the scribbly gum furrows of the verandah post. It looked like a projected colour film of hieroglyphics.

Talk about the light fantastic!