Sunday, 2 March 2014

Unpredictable March

Unpredictable March

March in Australia - Autumn, Rain, Lent, Pancakes, 

rain in an Australian garden

Now that March has arrived, and it is nearing the time that Takis and I will be returning to the island of Lemnos, we are checking the weather in Lemnos. March is that uncertain time of the year, in Lemnos as here in Australia. In March, in both countries, the weather is unpredictable and can turn cold or warming from week to week.

It is gradually getting colder in Australia and we are no longer on edge, checking the surrounding countryside for fires. We’ve had a good autumn rain and so we just  check the fire monitor now and then, and it usually only tells us the danger of fire is low to moderate, or perhaps high, but not severe or extreme any more. However, the garden still needs care and it can dry out quickly, and I have not stopped watering the pots yet.

In an article written by Jim Carey for BBC he describes the way the Australian countryside has changed since the coming of the Europeans, and become more fire-prone with eucalyptus trees taking over sections of the country.
Carey quotes a historian who declares that Aborigines managed the land differently, by continually clearing and producing grasslands that not only attracted animals they could hunt but also making massive firebreaks that preventing the kind of destructive fires we see today.

Jim Carey poses these questions at the end of his article,
There is an odd tension here, which rather unusually pitches conservation groups against an ancient knowledge. What exactly is the "natural" environment of Australia?
He asks if the massive forests of euclypstus trees, which have proliferated since 1788, are ‘natural or were the pastures gardened by the Aborigines for the tens of thousands of years prior to that more natural?

A banksia bush seed pod only opens in the heat of a flame. These seeds are only released by the heat of flames which is another reminder of how, along with the gum tree, Australia has evolved with, and forged by, fire.

     Eucalyptus Trees

Wikipedia has an alphabetical list of 734 Eucalyptus species and 3 hybrids.

The most prolific tree in the Australian bush is the iconic eucalyptus, nicknamed the 'gum tree' and described by one fireman as 'a living firebomb'. Carey writes, 'The bark of the tree falls away in thin flammable sheets - a touch paper to any passing spark - whilst the air in and around a eucalyptus forest hangs with the oil for which the tree is renowned. It creates an incendiary haze, which sometimes causes the air to burn by itself.'
Eucalyptus is a novel by Australian novelist Murray Bail.

Eucalyptus tells the story of Ellen Holland, a young woman whose "speckled beauty" and unattainability become legend far beyond the rural western New South Wales town near the property where she grows up. Her protective father's obsession with collecting rare species of Eucalyptus trees leads him to propose a contest - the man who can correctly name all the species on his property shall win her hand in marriage. When Mr. Cave arrives, a botanical genius, he appears to be the only man on earth capable of success. Unfortunately,  just as Cave nears his goal, Ellen finds love elsewhere.

The book won the 1999 Miles Franklin Award and the 1999 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

 March in Lemnos - Spring, Rain, Lent, No Meat 

Rain and Thunder Storms: Temperatures between 11-14 C.

 While Takis and I do tend to follow the sun, and generally live with temperatures around 15-30C all year round, I should remind you that both Australia and Lemnos experience winter weather. The house in the Aegean, though beautiful in spring through to autumn, would be freezing during the winter months. 

I remember, before I emigrated to Australia, I once met an Australian who had bought some skis in London to take back with him. I was amazed, thinking that Australia could not have snowfields. I was wrong. In the same way, many of my friends and relatives cannot imagine snow, hail and sleet, in Greece, but I can assure you it gets very cold there too - though not perhaps not as cold as America has had this winter, but the wind chill on the island can be pretty bad.

 The Julian calendar

This calendar has a regular (common) year of 365 days divided into 12 months with a leap day added to the month of February every four years (leap year). This made the Julian year 365.25 days long on average, and needless to say, this extra .25 day caused several issues.

Julius Caesar Augustus


From Wikipedia
‘Although all Eastern Orthodox countries (most of them in Eastern or Southeastern Europe) had adopted the Gregorian calendar by 1924, their national churches had not. The "Revised Julian calendar" was proposed during a synod in Constantinople in May 1923, consisting of a solar part which was and will be identical to the Gregorian calendar until the year 2800, and a lunar part which calculated Pascha (Easter) astronomically at Jerusalem. All Orthodox churches refused to accept the lunar part, so almost all Orthodox churches continue to celebrate Pascha according to the Julian calendar (with the exception of the Estonian Orthodox Church and the Finnish Orthodox Church).

The Greek Orthodox faith follows a modified Julian calendar to establish the date of Easter each year. Easter must fall after Passover, so it does not always or often coincide with the date of Easter in other faiths. However this year Greek Easter falls on the same day as the Catholic Easter. This is not until April 19-20. But in Greece the Lenten preparation for Easter is very important and many people observe the rule to abstain from meat, and dairy foods, which this year will be most of March.

 The Duration of Lent
This year Clean Monday is on the 3rd of March. This is the day that housewives spring clean, and it marks the first day of Lent.
The weeks of the Great Lent are:
First Sunday (Sunday of Orthodoxy)
Second Sunday (St. Gregory Palamas)
Third Sunday (Adoration of Cross)
Fourth Sunday (St. John of Climax)
Fifth Sunday (St. Mary of Egypt)
Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday

 Pancake Day. March 4

Many Christians in Australia observe Ash Wednesday as the first day of Lent. It is the beginning of the Lenten fast and is the day after Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day. I will make pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, not for any religious reason but because it reminds me of my English family's traditions.

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