Sunday, June 17, 2012

At last ... rain

For the several months of summer, and autumn, we dream of rain.  Sadly it seldom falls during those months, unless a storm passes through breaking branches from trees, or worse, uprooting trees, and tossing any item not tied down across the landscape.

The rain has taken longer to arrive in the west this year, although it appears to have taken up permanent residence 'over east'. 

The flower plants that had come to a complete standstill spurted ahead after an overhead shower ... not so gentle rain falling from the heavens.  The first couple of days saw them drink and grow, now flowers have appeared and the show of colour was worth waiting for.  I tried, unsuccessfully to grow salvia in New Zealand; it was too cold.  The bright cheery colour adds a certain something to a winters day.

The word cacophony I know in a intellectual manner; since the rains have arrived I know that word in its entirety.  Frogs!  All day and all night there is a chorus of frog noises.  I have no idea how many species of frogs there are in the vicinity, but from the sounds echoing around the neighbourhood I would guess at least four.  Some are high pitched, some almost musical, some raucous, and mixed together they sound like a brass band warming up their instruments and all reading from a different page of music.

We have an electric pump to pump water from the bore up to the house tank.  Each wash day I wander down the avenue, switch on the pump, and once the washing is completed [if the timing is correct] the house tank will over-flow and I will hurry back down to switch the pump off.

It was on such an occasion that the noise of frogs alerted me to their immediacy.  Two, I swear were talking to each other ... were they arranging a rendevous?  As I approached my footsteps must have alerted them for there was a sudden silence.  I stood quietly.  The conversation began.

These frogs must live in the dry soil during summer and after the first rains become active.  No matter how close I looked I could not see them ... a disappointment!  

In small depressions water lies and it is these spots that the frogs take up residence.  
Thankfully the snakes are asleep ... 'tis too cold for them!  Perhaps the frog population may increase while they have the opportunity? 

Only the ants make attempts to keep the damp out building high walls around their 'castles'.  Their labours are a certain sign of impending rain.
If you look closely you will spy an ant heading 'downstairs'.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Historical moments

The Queen, who is also Queen of New Zeland and Australia as we are part of the Commonwealth, celebrated 60 years on the throne.  How special is that! 

While there are spasmodic rumblings about a republic, momentous occasions such as the Diamond Jubilee do in most cases push those rumblings into the background.  Where else could one find such pomp and ceremony?  A boat ride on the Thames in the pouring rain and still Subjects turn out to witness the moment.  People from New Zealand and Australia would have been in that throng.

Yet there was another momentous occasion that occured yesterday.  The Transit of Venus!  Living in today we are lucky to observe this transit, though sadly the overcast skies in this part of Australia made that impossible, as the next one is not scheduled until 11th Decemver 2117, which even for the most optimistic of us, is a tad after our lifetime.

While many would think there is absolutely no connection between the Queen and the Transit, let me assure you there is an important link, a link that had it not happened would have left those of us now residing in the 'colonies' not speaking English.  Indeed, we probably would not be living here at all.

In 1769 the great English explorer, James Cook, set sale from Plymouth to observe the Transit of Venus in the South Seas, whereupon reaching Tahiti on 13th April 1759, making observations of, the once in over 100 years, Transit of Venus on 3rd June.  He sailed west charting first of all much of New Zealand, and then a large part  of the east of the vast continent of Australia, raising the English flag and claiming both countries as British territories.

As a remarkable coincidence, on this particular Transit of Venus, the Queen of England and the Commonwealth celebrated 60 years on the throne ... two moments in history intertwined with the past.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Native Wolves and Market Day

The month of May disappeared in a flurry of ?  I have no idea, though we did have visitors for a few days and the need to have a 'general tidy up' before their arrival accounted for a couple of days.  Why I persist in having a general tidy up for visitors escapes my Significant Other ... but then again women and men think differently! 

This morning, the first Saturday of the month, was once again Market Day for our nearest town.  We arrived almost too early as several of the stalls were still in the process of being set up.  Down the far end of the Town Park our favourite stall was ready for business.  There the most delicious, and reasonably priced, home baking and jams are sold.  While there is no standing order, we always buy an apple pie, with little pastry leaves for decoration, and a carrot cake iced and decorated with generous walnut halves.  Significant Other prefers what I dub 'Men's Stalls', you know the ones that sell metal things ... gardening tools, tools for fixing cars and other, to me, uninteresting pieces of metal.

While I browsed the DVD's for sale the dog tied to the table-leg barked as he dared another small dog, in a handmade coat, to enter his territory.  Laughingly the dog, named Mr Alfred, mistress said he was jealous of the handmade coat.  Mr Alfred is a rather rotund King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, and did not object at all to a pat from me. 

A trip to the chemist left me sitting in the vehicle waiting.  The local owner of several Native Wolves, also known as Dingoes, pulled in alongside and he entered the Chemist.  Within two minutes one of the Native Wolves set up a strange eerie howling, such as one would expect to hear in the wilds of Canada or Alaska!  The other soon joined in!  It felt like being on a movie set making it not difficult to imagine a brown bear crashing through the Bougainvillea growing on the verandah posts of the shopping complex.

The owner of the Native Wolves returned, and, laughingly, I called out that he had been gone too long and the dogs were missing him.

That small comment began a fascinating conversation about Dingoes ... this chap is writing a book about his 30-years experience with these Native Wolves. 

As is the case Significant Other returned and the conversation switched to more mundane male topics.  Even the dogs became disinterested and began their howling again.  Seeing an opportunity to become better acquainted with these animals I asked permission to pat them.  Permission was given to pat one ... what an amazing experience!!  After initially sniffing me [I had forgotten that Mr Alfred and I had become friends earlier, and no doubt that smell was still on my hands], this friendly Native Wolf almost drooled as I patted his long nose and smooth head, sitting down to allow me to touch more of him.

Dingoes have no doggy smell, and while there are too many bad stories in circulation about their destructive behaviour to farm animals, in reality it is the half-breed [half dog/half dingo] that cause many of the problems.

My morning was more rewarding that I could have imagined!!  I look forward to the book that is being written being published and for sale.