Crazy season

nashi pearsWith temperatures veering from 13 to 35 degrees, neither the fauna nor the flora know what’s going on here.

The snakes don’t know whether to hibernate or hunt, I’ve had to bring out the winter woollies, the autumn crocus are blooming and the ornamental grapevine began changing into its autumn colours only halfway through summer, while still putting out new green shoots.

On top of that we had 251mm in January: that’s nearly 10 inches, old style!! The track’s a squelchy mess, the back roof’s leaking and I’m sick of wearing gumboots.

And while I’m having a whinge, the king parrots and the crimson rosellas have eaten more than their share of nashi pears.

But I shouldn’t have worried. I’ve picked what’s left and now I’m condemned to nashi-ing for days: nashi butter, nashi and ginger jam, nashi Bavarian, nashi and date and walnut chutney, nashis in red wine…

Anyone got any more recipes?

Free summer blinds

stepsIn Autumn the ornamental grape and wisteria vines on my verandah were a visual treat — a rich riot of warm colours.

The vines are bare by winter, allowing the low sun to enter my house.

No matter how severely I trim them back, come Spring they always take off with such vigour that here we are at the beginning of Summer with fully drawn blinds of many different shades, shapes and textures of green.

green shade

in flower‘Pray enter a refuge from the glare and heat of summer’, say my front steps, leading to a doorway in the vines.

They do not lie. Once on the wide verandah, which is my summer living area, the contrast is extreme, the shade is dense and cool, the very light is green.

And to think these passive solar blinds are free, with guaranteed annual installation!

Up the north-eastern end of the verandah, morning summer sunlight is welcome, so the free blinds are allowed to be of more lacey material.

The climbing Crepuscule rose is finishing its blooming, just as the ‘Chilean Jasmine’, Mandevilla Laxa, is beginning — highly perfumed white clusters on delicate twining stems.

Summer lighting

Now that the sun is back to having the full sweep of the sky for rising and setting, it’s reaching windows that have not been sunstruck for months.

Even through my closed eyelids, somehow I know that the morning sunlight has snuck over the ridge to the east and is stroking the edges of my bedspread, browsing over my wall of books — and implying I ought to be up.

Given that I only like to work outdoors in the cooler ends of summer days, usually I take the hint and arise. I’ll spend a couple of hours raking horse manure or reclaiming parts of the yard that have been neglected over this last busy year. Then I feel I deserve breakfast.

decorated window

Later in the day the sun is now lighting up a fixed window high under the western gable. It was a plain multi-paned window, decorated only with fly spottings until I got the bright idea of filling in the panes it with those flat-backed iridescent glass beads sold in bargain shops.

On the inside, I glued them on with clear silicone into a vaguely Arabic-cum-Art Nouveau pattern in cool colours, thinking this would create a cooling impression. However, the iridescence proved to be only evident from the outside, and really only in summer when the sunlight was low and bright enough to reach it.

I also thought the extra glass layer might increase the insulating qualities of the window, but when I indulge in this sort of nest-decorating behaviour, I can always find a practical reason why I must do it ahead of pressing work. Once it’s done, the visual pleasure it gives me is reason enough.

Spring is sprung


My deciduous trees and the roses are risking sudden death by budding while the possum’s still about, but it’s in the forest that Spring has really made a grand entrance. Its greens and browns and greys are being splashed and draped with mauves and purples, whites and creams, as shrubs and vines flower.

The delicate Indigofera is prettier than any garden shrub, with its pinkish/mauve spires and ferny foliage.

Above it was Clematis aristata, which climbs saplings and crowns them with its drifts of white stars and new green leaves, bending them in graceful arches.

Nobody planted them, nobody tends or prunes them. They’re just part of the annual Spring show here.

But this is the Garden of Eden, so the snakes come with the flowers.


Today I saw my first red-bellied black snake, a few metres away from my low bedroom window.

It was very fat and alert, head erect, bright of eye, but not moving quickly;  it’s still a bit chilly here. I needed to watch where it went in case it was a new co-tenant.

But no, having come through the fence to let me know to watch where I’m walking even more carefully from now, it wound its way back up the slope and out under the gate.

Nevertheless, I put my gumboots on to go over to the vegie garden, and each slinky curve of hoses half-hidden in grass was suspect!