Damp delights

After a week of rain, cabin-bound except for squelching dashes to get wood, it was a treat to be able to walk about outside. 

While the cloud was keeping its weeping to itself, it was hugging the ground, reluctant to depart.

But still much easier weather for a perky kookaburra to keep an eye out for grubs on the move or emerging worms.

My dam overflow gully was running like the stream I wish it was, gurgling over rocks and bringing the moss to its brightest, greenest velvet.

When we first moved here in the 1970s, living in a tent, we got our fresh water from this springfed ‘stream’ for weeks.

But it’s not only the moss that loves the damp weather. The lichens are positively leaping into prominence from their encrustations on rocks and bark and whatever else will stand still long enough. They add cold colour, icy greens that shade to white and mimic coral. 

Winter wallabies

Now that the rain’s stopped, my yard is a sheltered sunspot for the wallaby population, which seems to have exploded.

I guess they give the kikuyu grass more attention now that it’s winter and there’s not a lot happening elsewhere, growthwise.

This morning they seemed as ‘herded’ and as focused on the task as a mob of cattle grazing.

The hillside is still seeping moisture so there aren’t many dry spots but this lot sensibly chose a higher bank. Two were drying off and warming their fronts, and two their backs, just as we would in front of a fire. Eating grass was not the purpose here.

There’s been a lot of wooing going on lately; much grunting and chasing and sniffing. One male nearly knocked me over yesterday as he belted past after a female. Desperate days to see which best man wins, but so far the ladies are all saying ‘no’.

Stormy roos

October has been a variable month, veering from warm to cold to freezing, from spring buds and seedling growth to blossom profusion.

And then we had a wild storm or two, one close to gale force, with winds roaring like freight trains, smashing branches and trees down and shredding gumleaves like confetti on the ground.

In fact that Saturday afternoon it had felt like it might snow, and I’d said so to a visiting friend. There was a laugh and the comment ‘You’ve got about as much chance of winning the lottery as getting snow in October!’

As if on cue, only minutes later — through the kitchen window we saw, briefly, lightly, but unmistakably, the graceful swirling downwards dance of snow. There was another flurry later. My friend is buying a lottery ticket.

The other storm was not so cold or wild, but wet and loud, with thunder and tiny hail and rain like driven nails on the roof.

I watched from the verandah, bemused because the kangaroo family hadn’t sought denser shelter than my garden trees. Was it to do with the lightning?

They slightly changed the direction of their positions but did not move from their chosen trees. I’d have thought a birch tree would give little shelter.

And from where I stood, I couldn’t see one wallaby in the yard.

When the drama was over and the sun had retired, summer storm-style, life returned to normal grazing — except beneath bedraggled pelts of wet fur.

The wallabies must have been somewhere near, for the first one I spotted was this rather confused joey next to my house tank. Maybe they had been under the verandah? I hadn’t thought to look.

Forest fabric art

I have often admired the work of textile artists like Jan Irvine-Nealie, where fine stitching subtly emphasises the shapes and patterns of nature.

However, lacking such patience and delicacy, I have never attempted anything like that.

Until the other day, after a short but violent hail storm and heavy rain, the sun came out for this picture. Not Jan’s tiny stitches, but great long ones, plain as a tailor’s tacking stitches, not necessarily all of even length, but in perfectly straight lines, perfectly spaced.

And it’s the latter that gives this away; I couldn’t stitch a straight line to save myself. I had removed the guttering from the verandah roof last summer, because it was sagging and leaking and a fire trap. Now the water simply ran off the corrugated iron roof.

There was so much water still doing that after this storm that it was dripping fast and continuously, in lines rather than round drops, falling from each of the dips of the roof.

It was one of those lightning moments; having taken the camera out looking for hail photos, I was given this instead.

Drying out

It had rained for days, and when it wasn’t raining it was damp and grey and cold. Miserable, in fact. The hillsides were oozing and the track was a running stream.

But just as dry firewood was becoming a concern, this day threw a final heavy shower at the mountain and then the sun came out.

The wallabies had clearly been even worse off than I was, out there in the long wet tussocks. This isn’t cave country to offer dry shelters, so I expect they must just endure such weather.

Their fur is thick but the top layer at least was looking very bedraggled as they sat about, drying off and dozing in the warmth.

While this mother (left) dried off, she was busy cleaning up her joey, who’d been kept safely cosy and dry in the best place for a joey to be — mum’s pouch.

Summer snow?

One brooding and steamy day in February, so still in summer, the weather finally decided to go into action and rain on my patch.
But it wasn’t completely decisive, as it retained the bright light and heat of sunshine as well.

From my verandah, the sunshower looked like it was raining diamonds, but on ‘film’ it looked like snow, as you see.
Mountain weather is full of surprises!

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.

Treasure hunt

After being cooped up in the cabin for too many days, wondering if my wood supply is enough to last out the wet spell, especially as the tin cover blew off the woodpile – I seize the chance to go for a walk in the forest as soon as a likely long fine break occurs.

I know I am bound to find something interesting or beautiful or both. My first stop is always where the dam overflow crosses the track and heads down the gully. 
First treasure found: water sliding silver over rocks, moss glowing green and tiny plants as pretty as jewels.

Next I walk around the dam, squelching over the grass where the hidden spring higher up is running across the clearing. Few trees have seeded here, no doubt because the wallabies and kangaroos love this spot and graze here daily.

But at the base of the one large shade tree, I spot a bright splash of colour against the dark trunk, and head towards it.
Second treasure:  a clump of fat fungi crowded together, orange to amber on top, flesh to salmon to brown below, upcurved bowls for catching leaves.

Light rain starts to fall and I hurry home, grateful for the brief outdoor time. And for the fact that here on my mountain I am always assured of finding at least one treasure.

After the rain

My world looked different after the rains stopped. Blue sky seemed bluer, white clouds whiter than ever before, brighter than memory allowed. Grey skies had dominated for so long.

My native animal neighbours appreciated it too, coming out of shelter to feed and scratch and dry off. Not having seen many since I got back from Thailand, due to the weather, I am relieved to see them.
A few wallabies, a family of roos…‘ Sawasdee-ka!’ I greet them, Thai style.

An echidna appeared just near the house, poking about in the overgrown herb garden. I have seen it, or a relative, there before. I expect the rocks provide good insect hidey holes for it to investigate.

Near the herb garden a large Wanderer butterfly decorates the lavender shrub. Although they are common here, familiarity does not breed contempt — they are very striking in colour and pattern, and I am grateful for their abundance.

Next day the echidna is still wandering about the yard as if intends to stay.

It feels like company; I am pleased to be sharing with a creature again, and to see something is using the useless grass.

As I have trouble putting a spade through this kikuyu sod, I am impressed that the echidna can poke and wriggle its snout through with no apparent trouble. An efficient ‘poker’ indeed.

Wet, wet world

wet-1Recent rains seemed endless as I remained cabinbound for the week, standing on the wet steps and peering out over the falling autumn leaves at the wet, wet world around me.

Over 300mm of rain fell, encouraging the kikuyu to grow ahead of my efforts once more.


Gum boot shod, hat dripping water down the neck of my Drizabone, each morning I had to at least venture as far as the rain gauge and the diminishing wood heap, as well as checking the batteries in the solar power shed.


The maned wood ducks liked it, and clearly felt secure in this watery world, seeing me restricted to the verandah far more than usual. They nibbled their way at leisure across the yard, much closer to structures than previously.


On the first morning of no rain, I ventured out with the camera. Low cloud still hid the far mountains, and the trees still dripped latent raindrops, but it was good to be out walking.

Water ran over grass like mini-creeks, and water plants flourished in puddles.


Although the horses have been gone for months, their presence is still evident in the rotting lumps of manure scattered here and there. On the track each ball of manure has sprouted tiny fungi, like candles on a cake.


In the house yard, colours are darker, leaves shinier, lichen brighter. The plants look happier than I do – as the rain begins to fall again

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.

After the storm

I am heartily sick of the rain and the storms: the hillsides perpetually oozing water and the tracks washing away on the slopes and forming into deep mudslides in the gullies; keeping up dry kindling and wood; feeding the horses in a damp Drizabone coat and dripping Akubra hat—which also has holes in the top; keeping up with where the elusive leak in my roof will manifest itself next in the house…

I bemoan the inaction on global warming that is causing such unseasonal climate chaos worldwide, but if I have to have almost daily storms, I hope to have more of such beauty afterwards. No matter how many rainbows one sees, they are never clichéd—despite Judy Garland.

mountain rainbow
Think I’ll have to write another book just so I can have this on the cover.