Meanwhile in Australia

Yesterday was Wattle Day. Some years the Australian Government makes a big thing of it, and so does the media. Many people clip sprigs of fluffy yellow flower on their clothes. I say this, but I’ve not noticed it for years. I was just the right age when the day was first declared and hosts of morning TV shows nervously wearing wattle blossom is seared onto my mind. Wattle fades quickly and many types of it shed furiously, and I remember both these things from the eighties.

What’s most important for me, this year, is that we had a warm day on 1 September. It’s finally Spring. We still have cool nights, which means that there was nearly twenty degrees between the coldest temperature on the 1 September and the warmest.

Why is this more important than the wattle? We have hundreds and hundreds of types of wattle here, and they start coming out in July. When I visited the Blue Mountains, the highways were already starting to glow with yellow blossom. Now, the whole city is bathed in soft yellow flowers that make me sneeze. I’ve been told often that sensitivity to wattle blossom is a myth and I’ve been given reason after reason for this to be so… but they still make me sneeze. Wattle Day then, is a reminder that there will be much pollen for the next few weeks.

This is a very busy time of year. Parliament is sitting. School is still four weeks away from holidays. University assignments are due. September is one of the months we all put our heads down and work hard. Very hard.

I made a list of the things I have to do this week and they include teaching, much assessing of the work of others, editing a novel and cleaning up and sorting the outline for my research.

I should give research up for the week (apart from that outline) because life is so frantic, but I have notes to be written up and I’m paddling slowly into new waters for a new novel. The paddling means I have to watch the perfect sort of Korean TV series for this busy season – the kind that relaxes. So I’m doing that as well.

I’m not alone. We’re all frayed and frantic. Or maybe we’re happily busy. It depends on how much coffee we’ve had.

One of the interesting things about Canberra is that the weather is near perfect and will remain so for a little, if September is normal. When I walked a lot and had more time, I’d wander round and admire the flowers and sneeze at the wattle and watch for magpies. Today is not a magpie day – I’ll talk about them another time. Today a crow flies past my window over and over and caws at other birds to stay away.

Between the overwork and a virus and a sore leg (I damaged my leg in Belfast!) my mind is lackadaisical, and all I want to do is make wattle jokes. I am not alone.

To be honest, although the streets are lined with various shades of yellow, the air is still scented with eucalypt. I live in the Bush Capital and spring has begun. Sightings of kangaroos will be more common (and they’re not that rare now) and the birds will become louder and my noisy brushtail possum (the one that protects all my windows and doors from the outside) last night changed her tune. In winter, I endured every single night an evil breathy growl (that sounds a bit like an asthmatic ghost losing its temper) that transformed into a death-rattle. I now have to endure only the growl. I tried growling back last night, but I’m a bit lacking in voice and I failed. Possibly just as well. My possum walks around, announcing her territory. I don’t want her to see me as infringing, given how very eloquent she is.

At this moment, I can see what you probably saw four paragraphs ago. The change in seasons means I am short of sleep. My mind is drifting. If I had a pile of wattle flower I would curl up in it and take a nap. I shall make coffee and do much work and pretend that my mind is not in the Land of Seasonal Change.

Wattle blossom looks as if it should drift everywhere, but all it does is go limp. If I don’t have coffee, my mind will stop drifting everywhere and will go limp. This could mean interesting outcomes for all my work. Not desirable outcomes. Just interesting.

Despite this, all I can think of at the moment is that dusk is still early and that the nearest park where kangaroos congregate at dusk is a block away and that one day I should walk there and say hi. It was too cold for that until now. I think this every September, but I never do it. Kangaroos staring at me in perfect harmony are very unnerving.

Let me leave you with a book that contains kangaroos and wattle in perfect harmony. It’s a children’s book, set in the mountains near me (mostly on Ngarigo land, I think). The article is by Judith Tarr who is not only from BVC, but who understands horses.

This fortnight’s post may be scatty, but it will leave you with the best of reading. Seasons are circular, after all. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen wattle or dreamed of kangaroos. I celebrate the beginning of the new season with circularity.


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