Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Blackbird Days

Blackbird Days

This is what I call this time of year. It lies at the end of spring, when blackbirds become very clucky. They begin warbling at about four in the morning, to brag about their nests and coming young ones, and they keep going all day, letting up only in the late evening as the sun sets


Perfect Days

It’s also time when there are some very fluctuating weather patterns here in south of Australia as the winds sweep in from the north (across the deserts of inland Australia), or south (from the Antarctic), or east (from the Pacific) or west (across the continent itself and another desert). In the Dandenongs the temperature at night still falls at times below 10 and yet it can rise to 28 in the day, and even into the 30s down in the city of Melbourne.

BUT, in between storms and winds we have these perfect spring days. The flowers love the warmth (not really hot yet) and the dampness (after the storms) and open up and gaze at the sun – and my camera.

I love walking around the garden to see what has opened up today. The other day my husband and I went to the city to have a meal with our children. It was not long after a passing thunderstorm. When we got back I was amazed to see that my peonies, that I had watched day by day as the buds swelled, had opened up and there were all these huge, astounding blooms, a few of which I had to bring indoors to admire some more.


Between Acacias and Agapanthus


I had not been in this part of the world in winter for a number of years until this year and what struck me was the number and brilliance of the Acacia blooms, lightening up the general grey-greeness of the eucalyptus forests around here. Other years we would still be in Greece in October, not returning until November. I’d return to get ready for Christmas and notice how all around our house the white and blue agapanthus were in bloom. It has made me call Christmas Agapanthus Time. I’ve enjoyed the fact that this year I’ve seen the daffodils and camellias come into bloom (though have nearly all gone now). And now I’m filled with joy to see the irises coming into flower, and of course the peonies.

 Four, Five or Six Seasons?

It’s a great feeling to be part of nature’s cycle. But here in Australia, which is a very large continent, and has various growing zones, the European 4 seasons does not really apply.

Tim Entwisle, director of Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens, says our spring begins in August, not September. He invites Australians to switch from four to five seasons and to rename and redate them: instead of a neat division of three months a season Entwisle says our seasons should match our climate and what's happening with our plants and animals.
Tim’s would be:

Sprinter, the early spring (August, September)
Sprummer, early summer (October, November)
Autumn (April, May)
Winter (June, July)

The Aboriginal peoples have distinct ways of dividing the year, naming and understanding the seasons differently between groups. This depends on where in Australia the group lives, and the activities that they are involved in at each part of the year..

These are the seasons, according to the Noongar (Whadjuk) People, in the South-West coast of Australia. They too aligned to their seasonal activities of fishing, hunting and collecting of plants.

Bunuru (February, March) Hot dry, easterly and north winds

Djeran (April, May) Cooling, south-west winds

Makuru (June, July) Cold rain, westerly gales

Djiba (August, September) warming

Kambarang (October, November) rain lessening

Birak (December, January) Hot dry daytime easterly breezes, later afternoon south-west sea breezes.

October in Australia

So, according to Tim Entwisle we are now in Sprummer, and according the Noongar, or Whadjuk People we are in Kambarang, when rains will lessen.

And yes, rain is precious this month and we don’t want the summer to arrive too early, as we know we have some very dry days ahead, so I’m looking at the barometer, to check for rain. But meanwhile, enjoying these precious Blackbird Days!


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