|Cindy and Ruby resplendent in their "winter coats" ready for the cold weather (photo the author)|
Friday June 1 marks the official start to winter here in Australia. In Western Australia, our spring and autumn are the very best seasons of the year. The sky is usually a brilliant blue and the breezes are light and calm, the ocean and the river tranquil. In spring the bulbs pop their heads out expectantly, seeking some light rain and sunshine to encourage their coats of many colours to flourish. The roses push out their new shoots, usually a light burgundy colour, until the flower buds form and the stems and leaves turn to a rich green to complement the ladies as they emerge.
|The leaves are turning on the Chinese Tallow trees and the wisteria vine (photo the author)|
In autumn the leaves turn colour on the trees which are of a European extraction. I so enjoy the seasonal change, even when raking the huge piles of leaves which collect on my front lawn. The crunch under my feet encourages my little dogs to jump into the piles, sometimes getting momentarily buried, causing me to burst into peals of laughter. The colder mornings encourage another cup of tea while I read the paper, despite the expectant looks from the dogs awaiting their daily walk along the river.
|The lemon tree is prolific...although it receives little attention (photo the author)|
In my courtyard the lime and lemon trees are flourishing and literally dropping fruit on me as I read in the sun. In just a few weeks the marmalade and lemon curd jars will be filled, as will the large jars of preserved Moroccan style lemons. If the trees remain abundant, some lime pickle to complement my curries will also be prepared.
The bougainvillea sheltering the smaller plants (photo the author)
Even as the deciduous trees drop their leaves the bougainvillea bush is showing off with its bright purple foliage; it presents a beautiful canopy to shelter the potted geraniums below it from the harsh winter rains and welcome colour throughout the winter when all else is smoky green, the sky grey, the air damp and the grass yellow.
Care over the next few months will be a pleasure (photo the author)
I have planted the vegetable patch with winter vegetables; Tuscan cabbage, kale, broad beans, French beans, heritage coloured carrots, rainbow Swiss chard and baby English spinach…it’s like the United Nations out there in vegetable land.
An Australian native garden...waterwise, but? (photo the author)
My neighbours have a traditional Australian native garden. It does not change colour, shape or style all year round…when I walk past it I almost hear it telling me how much it envies the roses across the road in my other neighbour’s garden, and the Chinese Tallow trees and the wisteria which add colour and character to my expansive lawn.
Beautiful "Iceberg"roses, in their autumn glory (photo the author)
Every winter I make myself some resolutions to fill in the short days and long nights. The list always starts with sorting the many hundreds of photos I have of my children growing up in the days before digital cameras. The photos, over many years, have been filed into year groups, or vacations, or school activities, but they have rarely found themselves nestled warmly in photo albums. They reside in boxes marked “Kids Photos”. I don’t want my children cursing me over my grave having found the boxes, so every year I try to fill another one or two albums. It usually takes a few glasses of wine and many hours with favourite music playing, as I reminisce over times gone by, with memories never lost or forgotten. It is an activity which I think must be undertaken by me alone, and is just perfect in it’s contented loneliness.
And then there is the garage. Only in winter do I venture in and start making notes of the items I have not used for 5 years or more; that is the cut off date. If they have not been used in that time, they no longer have a right to space at the expense of more recently purchased pieces of “stuff”. That job also requires some wines and usually some accommodating friends, whom I bribe with a comforting meal after their hard work in assisting me.
Bare trees, yellowing lawns...Jack Frost is on the way! (photo the author)
So, winter…I welcome you. Not for long though! I will visit my friends in Indonesia in June/July and then escape to New Caledonia for three weeks in August for an immersion French language course.
By the time I get back, winter will be almost finished. The photos will be waiting, as will the garage…I am nothing if not consistent in my habits!