Friday, 16 August 2013

Friday Five: Spring is coming!

Earlier this week I was swooped by a magpie, while out running. Yes, we have magpies around all year, but during the mating season they get particularly aggressive and territorial. Cyclists wear cable ties pointing up from their helmets to discourage the vicious aerial attacks (although it is doubtful whether this actually works) and the cat cowers indoors. This to me, more than the reports in the newspapers of the tulips being planted for Floriade and the inevitable ensuing disapproval over the use of non-native bulbs, heralds the advent of spring.

There are other indicators too, such as the effervescent golden wattle – Australia’s national flower. It bursts and froths from the bush like Ocker champagne and is native to every state of Australia. Obviously due to climactic variations, it blooms at slightly different times, but it is always in ‘early spring’. Wattle Day was first celebrated in 2010 in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, on the suggestion of naturalist A. J. Campbell. He proposed that the wearing of a sprig of wattle would demonstrate patriotism for the new nation of Australia. It also came to embody the beginning of spring and has been commemorated on 1st August and 1st September, depending on where you are when it blooms.

Spring is a glorious season, although it still feels weird when it arrives at the end of the year. I can cope with snow in July and Christmas in summer (although it will never seem normal) but the other times – what they used to call the ‘shoulder seasons’ in Queenstown – still have the ability to confuse me. It seems odd that calendars begin with pictures of autumn in Australia, but whatever the month, there are clear indicators that spring is coming!

5 Indications of the beginnng of Spring:
  1. Grass starts growing again. Last weekend our neighbour cut his lawn: the sound of the suburbs is returning for the season, along with that delicious smell, by which I mean the freshly mown grass not the diesel two stroke engine.
  2. Asparagus spears appearing in the supermarkets. After a few months of roast meats, casseroles and hearty pasta meals, we welcome fresh salads and crisp green vegetables.
  3. Delicate furry buds on the peach trees (surrounded by flocks of far-from delicate galahs)
  4. People spotted out and about in Canberra – in winter they scuttle from home to work and back again as quickly as possible, a small step away from hibernating, much like the common (and cute) wombat.
  5. Him Outdoors saw a wombat while out running down by the river. I am jealous.