Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Taste of Winter

After 5 days of rain and cold, we walked to school this morning in brilliant sunshine and a clear Grecian blue sky. Stunning. The morning temperatures here have hovered close to zero, and this morning there was frost on plants that were still shadowed from the sun. This cold front is a real taste of winter, which is on its way. However, it is autumn, and once the sun is out, the temperatures reach the mid teens, so it's bearable. We had a big fire in our back yard on Saturday, to burn off the deadfall that has been piling up since the fire ban went into effect. Since the 20th of this month, they have been burning off parts of the forest, in order to reduce the fire hazard for the next spring and summer season. We bought sausages (snags) and marshmallows, and managed to roast the weeeeners (emphasis on the "E", which the Aussies find very entertaining, the word wiener, that is!) before it started pouring on Saturday evening. So the marshmallows will wait. There are still more dead bits to burn, and we can roast the marshmallows then. We've also been having fires in the wood stove in our living room -- it keeps that part of the house nice and warm. It's a gorgeous stove that makes us realize we need an upgrade at the lake! The kids now have new (and much warmer) jammies for the nights, and we are wearing "longies" and socks to bed in order to stay warm. I'm not quite ready for a beanie (local term for toque), but we haven't hit the real winter yet!

This morning the cockatoos were mewing quietly, crooning, in the trees above the path on One Tree Hill Road. I heard the same thing yesterday, and couldn't quite figure it out, as they are normally raucous and blaringly loud as they flap overhead. I think they are more than stuffed on all the chestnuts they've been eating. The ground beneath the big chestnut trees is littered with the debris of chestnut casings and bits of tree branches and leaves as they gorge themselves. I could hear the snap of a branch as one bit off a tasty bit, and as I looked up, I must have startled it, as it squawked loudly and took off. At least 8 birds followed. I had ruined their morning tea.

My latest plan is to record the kookaburras as they laugh themselves silly and use it as a ring tone. So I've taken to carrying the mobile with me, hoping to catch them in full cackle. As soon as I have the phone with me though, there isn't a bird to be seen. However, they like to hang out in our back yard as well, so I will stalk them there. I left some lamb chop trimmings on a log 2 days ago, and it's now gone. We've heard you can actually hold some mince (ground beef) in your hand and they'll eat it. They, unlike the cockatoos, rosellas and parrots, eat meat (mice, frogs) ... more like an owl, I guess. I think the possums were hungry last night, as there was a lot of scratching and hissing. They must have been happy it wasn't pouring rain. As I write this, there is another episode of hissing and fighting, unusual for the daylight hours. A turf war?

The kids and Tom all had sore throats and headaches late last week, but have recovered. Must have been the trauma of all that travel in the holidays and then getting right back into the hard work of school. A new phone line was installed in our absence, and I was able to have a pleasant person to person chat with someone in the mega Telstra corporation. There is humanity after all, in the individuals that make up that huge organization.

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