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.

From wild to mild

storm-1After a severe thunderstorm, with crashes and breaks and rolls that came much to close to my cabin for comfort,  the rain stopped just in time for the end of the day.

The rain had been welcome, but I wanted a fine tomorrow. Over me, thin low cloud still swirled grey and damp, and the sun had left, yet on the higher mountains opposite it was a different world and time.
storm-2Thick and white, they clung to the peaks and ridges, while their bases boiled upwards in drifts and wisps towards the dying light. A washed blue sky promised the morrow I had ordered.

As the reflected sunset set them aglow and faintly tinged them pink, the clouds broke into reluctant tufts of cotton wool. Minutes later they were gone.

Winter sunrise

In winter my morning policy is not to arise until the sun is in my house, but I was forced to do otherwise when this was the first sight of the day.

Knowing how quickly such skies change and fade, I leapt up, threw on a thick dressing gown, stepped into my oversize fake ugg-boot slippers and raced outside with the camera.
This sunrise was as boldly beautiful as I’ve seen in ages. Zooming the camera closer, the texture and colour of its serried centre reminded me of a slab of our Australian Red Cedar timber at its glorious best.
Within seconds sungold was introduced to the palette and the vibrant orange and vermilion tones were softening a little into prettiness.

Seconds later and the glory was all lost, washed flat by grey daylight. 

Waterfall country

Along the aptly-named Waterfall Way from Dorrigo to Armidale, there are plenty of opportunities to experience really wild country in several national parks: rugged escarpments and gorges, deeply incised rivers and breathtaking waterfalls.

I stopped first at Ebor Falls in the Guy Fawkes River National Park. It was still early in the morning so most of the gorge was in shadow.
Some of the tracks were closed; it was plain that the strong winds and heavy rain in May had uprooted many trees and caused slips that would take a long time to fix. But the high altitude was already evident in the vivid lichen on the bark of trees, so vivid that I had to look twice to be sure it wasn’t out of a paint spraycan.
As I don’t like heights I found myself walking with my body on an angle, sloped well away from the lower edge – and the ravines below. I was imagining crumbling edges and slipping feet, trees and rocks – and bodies – tumbling to the silver strip of river at the bottom of the gorge.

I can recommend a terrific little book by Roger Fryer, called Wildlife and Wilderness in the Waterfall Country as guide and background information for anyone going through this whole wonderful area. It’s available from the CSIRO (at the special price of $19.95 until mid-July, regularly $29.95)

High sky

Here’s proof that the earth is round.

The sun had set on my horizon, down here on my tree-rimmed earth. Green details had given way to black filigree. The huge bank of clouds to the north had almost ceased to reflect the sunset.

Except for way, way up high, where the top of this massive cauliflower cloud was illuminated with sunlight from where the sun still reigned, far over the horizon’s curve, over the edge of the world visible to me.

The brightest of daytime white glowed, almost shockingly, above more gentle sunset pinks which were reflecting from closer over that curve, I imagine.

It’s these moments of natural grandeur that keep me glancing out my window, that make me determined to live more outdoors more of the time — in case I miss something.

The clouds below

cloud valley
Some early mornings as I leave the mountain I come around a bend and discover a sea of clouds has crept in on the night tide to fill the valleys through which I must drive.

It has been brilliant sunshine at home, but to reach `civilisation’ my Suzi and I must hold our breath, turn on our underwater lights, and descend into the wet blind realm below.

You might protest and say it is merely fog, but I will hold to the image of a cloudland below; far more in keeping with the magic and mystery of this occasional wonder.

Mountain morning

mountain mist
A wet season here means lots of mornings when the day hasn’t yet decided what it will do.

At 3000 feet, my place is inside the clouds as they hover between earth and sky, unable to rise above the nearby higher mountains of 5000 feet or more.

When they do begin to lift, the sun gets its chance in often spectacular ways. From the window over my kitchen sink, I get a great view of this brief beauty to the north-east.

Up my track and through the forest, the ordinary is illuminated by a lighting effects whizz.

Spotlit, backlit and highlit, alternating softening and scintillating lenses—trees and tussocks, bracken and bark, mud and puddles—all transformed.

What a start to the day—good morning, mountain!