Monday, May 4, 2009


On Saturday morning we drove down to Kallista, just a few kilometres away, to check out the market which takes place the first Saturday of every month. We found an electic blend of stalls selling the work of local crafts people and artists, gardeners, and others waiting to engage passersby in causes such as solar heating and the work of Amnesty International. Clothing, jewellery, pottery, a variety of hand made objects gave us what we have started to call our "art therapy" experience. Tom loves to check out what is being made locally, and this is a great little market. It captured a nice blend of funky, arty, back-to-the-land products with people who wanted to talk about their work. And the ubiquitous little mobile cafe was on site, so Tom and I had great coffee while we strolled around. The kids found little pancakes, Poppeljes (if I get the Dutch spelling right), to eat!

At another fruit and vegie market we found recently harvested tomatoes, potatoes, apples, pears, those autumn fruits and vegetables. At the Kallista market I got some gorgeous, and superbly tasty, beets and cabbage, and will use them, with the tomatoes, to make borscht for our evening meal. Last night Tom prepared one of the meals his father used to make -- potatoes, beet greens, and hard boiled eggs. These are our own little historical rituals, bringing the past of our parents and their cultual and familial communities into our lives in Ferny Creek.

At night I was thinking about the rituals and events I attach to the seasons. Some, like Thanksgiving, we have attached to the harvest season. And Christmas coincides with the days getting longer in the northern hemisphere, as our northern hemisphere ancestors took to lighting fires to welcome back the sun. As the days get darker and colder here in the southern hemisphere, we have started lighting candles and fires, our usual response to the onset of winter's cold and darkness. We prepare foods based on the autumn harvest.

Because it's getting colder and darker, I have to detach myself from thinking Christmas is just around the corner. Giving the month its label, May, makes me think it should be spring. I remembered events related to my work -- summer session is starting for the University students. Canadian schools and teachers will be directing their energies on the end of their academic year in June, and Tom and the kids have all talked about the school year's end. Tom has thought about planting tomatoes, because it's May, just like he would in Winnipeg. It's intriguing to think that some of these remembered events do not coincide with "their" seasons.

Apparently some people in this area have a winter Christmas during June and light up the local communities. Most of these folks were born here, but these rituals have their roots in the northern hemisphere season of darkness, and even though we've dated something like Christmas to December, it feels intrinsically right to celebrate when the days are at their shortest. Some of this must be related to the fact that there are actual seasons here around Melbourne -- closer to the equator, the seasonal effect wouldn't be as strong, and the dry and wet would be more of an issue.

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