We’ve gotten used to fairly mild winters in Melbourne over the last few years. So Antarctic winds, hail and even snow on the nearby ranges have come as a bit of a surprise. It’s perfect weather for snuggling in bed but sadly, for me, I had to get up early on a Saturday, to drive my son to cross country running. It was lovely though, to see in the soft morning light, the garden gilded with rain drops. The promise of spring to come, in the little nodding Jonquils….
August 1st, the first day of the last month of winter in Australia, the promise of spring is in the air. Clear blue cold skies hang above the Michelia doltsopa, growing outside the back door. It’s beautiful scent hangs teasingly in the air, exploding into a mass of flowers, it calls me outside to enjoy the chilly winter sunshine.
Mushrooms continue to pop up in unusual abundance in my garden this winter. I nearly stepped on these tiny taupe mushrooms camouflaged among the stones in my back garden. They were about the size of my thumbnail, looking like they would be more at home under the sea than on land. Later, I spotted some small orange mushrooms beneath the lemon tree. A perfect platform to show off a tiny vintage owl. This is the baby owl of a vintage trio of three that I found on Etsy and is only 2 cm high. Sadly, no white spotted red mushrooms, like the ones from my childhood appeared. So, I painted some.
Yesterday we were warned that damaging wind gusts could be expected of up to 100 km. It was certainly windy, doors were banging, loose windows rattled and the local paper blew all the way down my driveway, in separate sheets. I was very pleased I had attached draft stoppers to the doors the day before. It was the perfect weather for snuggling inside. I wrapped up one of my Bunny Rabbits that was going all the way to London for a little girl’s birthday. A bunny also went to New Zealand a few weeks ago. My bunnies are becoming world travellers! I’m quite envious of them, I haven’t been to either country although they are both on my wish list.
Late in the day, there was an amazing view of a tree in a neighbour’s garden that was gilded by the setting sun. Ruby spent the day after her windy walk snuggling. You can see her here, snuggled not in her bed, but in my beanbag where she is not allowed to be….
After a beautiful warm autumn, winter is settling in and the garden has an unloved look. Soggy dead leaves carpet the ground and the herb garden looks tired, weeds springing up from all the rain we have had lately. Two lovely things are happening though, ripe lemons are just starting to appear after a long absence and the Tamarillos are ready to eat. I planted a Tamarillo shrub as my grandfather had one in his garden and they are not always to be found in fruit shops. I love their tart taste which is a bit like a cross between a passion fruit and a tomato. There are recipes that involve turning Tamarillos into chutney or even cheesecake, but I like them cut in half, scooped out and eaten.
Originally, the plant was covered in unripe fruit and I thought I would be Lady Bountiful, sharing an excess of fruit. One day however, I looked closely at the plant and saw lots and lots of empty stems, which the unripe fruit had been plucked from. I suspect rats and possums had been carrying them away. Luckily, whilst there wasn’t a huge crop, there are plenty for me as my husband and boys don’t like them. This is one occasion when I don’t mind them not liking something!
It’s winter in Melbourne and all of a sudden, I’m seeing mushrooms popping up in my garden. Hopefully none of them are the Deathcap mushroom which is fatal to eat.
When I was a little girl I lived in a semi rural area and I remember walking through pine forests and seeing the most magical looking mushroom. Bright red with white spots and as big as a bread plate, I looked carefully for fairies, but sadly they must have heard me coming. I can also remember tiny old Italian ladies in head scarves, sneaking into our garden and picking orange mushrooms which they obviously knew were edible.
Recently I had to spend two hours in a doctor’s waiting room. I read the magazine I had brought with me and then looked in my bag for something to draw on. All I could find were pieces of old books that I had kept from when my students last year had made secret book safes. I began sketching and what should pop up, but a mushroom!
Today we farewell autumn in Melbourne and tomorrow winter arrives. Not my favourite season. When I think of winter I think of short days and long nights, cold, dreary, drizzly weather, with the occasional wind from Antarctica blowing through town just for a change. But what I love about winter is the excuse to snuggle in bed reading with my hot water bottle, lots of hot soup and baking and making coffee last for ages whilst chatting with friends in coffee shops. Now that I think about it, it’s not so bad really……