Sunday, 26 August 2007

The Wattle Blooms

Our Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) has been blooming for over a week, but until now it hasn't been good weather for taking photographs, being either rainy or just overcast and dark.Yesterday was a true harbinger of spring with temperatures up in the high teens and bright blue skies, T-shirt weather at last. So, of course, it was time for the wattle's photo shoot. Cootamundra, for the benefit of my Canadian friends, is the name of the town in northern NSW where this small tree is naturally prolific, although it is now the most widely grown and marketed of all its family. Here in the Blue Mountains, they frown on planting it because it tends to crowd out the native wattles of the region. As our specimen was planted about seven years ago by the former owner, I can admire its dusty blue leaves and bobbles of golden flower without guilt. A fierce winter wind snapped one large branch off only a month ago, so it's looking less dense than earlier in the year.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Mountain Mistral

For three days now, the Mountains have been buffeted by relentless winds. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and, if it were calm, these would be lovely days presaging the spring to come. But the strong winds keep us indoors, and when we do go out for a walk, they whip the scarves off our necks and push us along the streets at a faster pace than we intend. From our windows we can see the eucalypts in the ravine below, thrashing in the unpredictable gusts. A litter of twigs and leaves scurries about the streets.
It reminds me vividly of the time we spent in St.-Remy-de-Provence, the French town where Vincent Van Gogh spent time in the local asylum. For four days while we were there, the Mistral blew unceasingly, setting everyone's teeth on edge. When it suddenly died, it was as if the whole town sighed with relief. I remember thinking that it was the worst place possible to put people like VanGogh who were already somewhat unbalanced.
As far as I know, our neighbours here don't have a word for the wind. Perhaps (and I hope this is the case) it is not a common occurrence. The weather bureau is predicting a change tomorrow which will see the winds ease up and clouds move in. By Monday there may be showers, and our Australian Mistral will be gone. Can't be too soon for me.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Winter Continued

Arriving back in Katoomba after a month of summer in Canada, I'm interested in how many signs of impending spring there are already. Everywhere between Sydney and here, the wattles (Acacia spp.) are in flower. Not the Acacia baileyana in our backyard however. It was planted in an area of full shade at this time of the year, so although it is in bud, there's no fountain of tiny yellow bubbles to look at quite yet. Sunshine and warmer temperatures are forecast for this week, which may spur it into bloom.
A clump of snowflakes has, however, opened in our absence, and there are some narcissus that have sprung up in the vacant lot next door, which I might rescue when they've finished blooming. There are blades of other bulbs in the small front garden. Some I think are going to be hyacinths. We shall see.