Early bird treat

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a really vivid sunrise here — and that’s not because I’ve been lazing in bed! As winter draws on, I might well do that, but the days are just perfect at present.

So this torrid beauty was an especially welcome gift — just to remind me.

early-bird-2

The colours alter so swiftly, you could be excused for missing out on a scene change. From bold to gold, bright to light.

Morning glories

Being up and about early has so often gifted me unexpected and ephemeral sights here that I feel I’ve missed something – or might have – when I sleep in.

At about 900 metres elevation, we do catch clouds often. They may be slow to lift, waiting for the new sun to warm them and lighten the load. But when they do, the two elements can create wonders.

At moments like these, I can see how folk might have thought they were having visions of enlightenment as the figure reaches out its arms to them.

rays-2

Even when the effect of a figure has dissipated, the long rays continue to find their way though the forest for many photogenic minutes more.

Back to basics

A couple of years before I was born, Irving Berlin wrote a song (used in the musical Annie Get Your Gun) whose words have stayed with me.

Or at least the chorus has: I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night and scraps of verses along the lines of 

Got no diamond got no pearl

Still think I’m a lucky girl

And I still do.

I try not to think of Dean Martin singing it, as he always made me feel rather queasy; too smooth by half.

(If you want all the lyrics they’re here)

basics-2

I’m waking up early these days, so I caught this sunrise from my bedroom windows. If you look very closely, you’ll see there’s a slender crescent moon in the blue.

basics-3

Stumbling outside with the camera, I found that the sky to the west was a reflected rosy wash. Fleeting, almost past, but such a gift.

I truly am a lucky old girl!

One day…

In any given day here I can be offered small moments of splendour or surprise.

One day last week I had three.

It began with a shining morning, where the low early sun set the leaves on trees and shrubs and even the bracken ferns to sparkle and dazzle. A solitary wallaby sat amongst the tussocks, backlit and bright-edged.

 Later in the morning a rare family group of kangaroos grazed amongst the spent jonquil bulb leaves. 

Usually I see the mum and joey together and the male separate, or else only following close to them when he thinks she might be on heat. 

There’s  been quite a bit of that going on lately, leading to a few barneys between old and young competing males.

But this trio stayed together for ages: the family that feeds together…?

And then, when the sun had set in the west and my forest had passed into darkness, this high bank of northern clouds took fire. Turner, eat your heart out!

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!’.

Wide open skies

There is always something grand about the skyscapes of Victoria’s wide open spaces.  I can remember being struck by them on my first trip to the state, back in 1978.

This dramatic beauty (above) was offered to me early on a very windy morning, on higher ground about 5km from Bacchus Marsh.

And yet, back on my own mountain, where my sky views are limited by the forest rim of my clearing, my ‘skybowl’, this pretty sunset presented itself like a welcome back gift.

I don’t need to compare; I just enjoy.

Moonset, sunrise

With much on my mind re this coal book, the ongoing issues and the ensuing talks and tours, I am up early to start work. 

One recent benefit of this — apart from stopping my kaleidoscope brain from its pointless shuffling — was that I caught the moon on its way to bed, full and bright above the south-western still-dark treeline, which the early dawn light was just starting to colour.

Things change rapidly at that hour, and in the opposite sky, where the sun was about to pop over the mountains, the raggedly combed clouds were suddenly aglow.

Softer pink reflections attended the moon before it slipped from sight into cloud and away — a veiled exit!

Taking the time to look

I have been so involved in my coal book and the ongoing issues it deals with that I have hardly had time to leave the cabin — except to charge the laptop in the camper!

And, by the way, my 18-year-old batteries are OK. It’s the inverter that’s given up.  Unfortunately BP don’t make solar batteries any more in Australia (nor does anyone else) so they are all imported and horrifically expensive.

Now there’s a manufacturing industry that ought to be supported — instead of subidising the dodo technology of coal!

Even when busy, I can’t help but notice the extraordinary sights that nature keeps offering me here. Like the dark evening sky split with blue and the last of the light — unzippered just for me.

And although I haven’t had time to take walks and see what my local fungi are up to, my north coast friend Christa has been doing more than enough for us both. She’s a person who always takes the time to look at the world around her, although these frilly-skirted fungi would have been hard to miss. Luckily Christa also usually has a camera ready, so could share the sight with me.

I keep thinking ‘tarantella’ when I look at them, gay skirts swirling as the dancers stamp and twirl. And oh, the colours! 
Can you hear the castanets?

Cloud blossoms

When I wake up to a white world it’s not usually because it has snowed — although that has happened — but because a cloud has decided to descend and join me, poor earthbound being that I am.

At such times the only bright colour is in close things, seen sans veil of finest white muslin.

My thinner north-east verandah sunshade is the Mandevilla Laxa vine, currently unfurling its pure white bells and perfuming my the air around my cabin.

Since the wallabies eat the lower parts of most ground-based vines, they have to survive to taller-than-wallaby height before they can burst into full production and show me once more why I’d planted them.

This year, given how tasty the self-seeding but fragile old-variety sweet peas would be when they popped their heads out of the ground, I broke my rule of ‘survival of the fittest’ and planted some in the pots on the wallaby-proof (so far) verandah.

With that extra metre or so leg-up they have climbed up the Mandevilla and hit the roof, adding their unmistakable scent and their candy pink colours to my cloud-white day.

Sky lights

I look up as often as down, on the alert for the surprises that my surroundings so frequently have to offer me.

Thankfully the sky is ever changing; I agree with the Cloud Appreciation Society who ‘pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’, since ‘Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.’

Sunsets to my western outlook may slip through their gamut of glory, their combinations of flaming shapes and colours, before I happen to see them. The last acts will be stunning, like this golden bird soaring above the dark below, but what did I miss?

I am far more likely to see the best of a sunrise, the low windows beside my bed being on the north-east.  And what would a sunrise be without clouds to catch for colour?

From bruised purple to hazy pink to firelit orange — who needs blue?

Scrambled sky messages

By day the weather has been wild and windy, making my escarpment edge trees roar like jet planes as they whip and whirl under the onslaught — and protecting my clearing.  

Early morning, it can be quiet, but ominous. 

‘Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning…’

And while there’s been no rain, the sky often looks as if it intends to, a strangely leaden backdrop for a bright sunlit treeline, pewter behind the red-gold.

One morning a faint sunshower drifted over, with no visible cloud source above, and a pale rainbow appeared in the blue western sky.

I think the message in such weather is ‘expect the unexpected’. I’ll  just have to keep an eye out for the next surprise. No wonder I’m never bored here.

Ethereal moments

Moisture, light and air — nothing substantial, and yet what they create when they combine can be magical and memorable. 

The wind-teased clouds in this sky made a grand if fuzzy-headed bird, tail feathers trailing, gliding like an eagle overhead, intently watching the earth below.

A perfectly still, dewy early morning, when clouds hug the earth; the sun rises, finds a chink in the clouds and gives me misty sun rays that only last for seconds. Another ethereal moment on the mountain.