Thursday, May 2, 2013

Autumn at last

We were starting to wonder where Autumn was this year. Is it always so slow to come on? I can't remember. The days have stayed hot. Nights too and I have been starving for colour. The long Summer has bleached the grass, trees have kept hold of leaves but droop for lack of water. Maybe I made up the mid Autumn stained glass month that should be April. We went to mountains to look for it and found the cold. We found snow and clear starry nights, spoke to each other in steam and piled on coats and blankets. Back in Melbourne this week the weather is all that I want. Sharp in the morning, sunny afternoons and evening rain. 
The pumpkin patch is yielding well - dark green knobby kobocha, summer squash and yellow orb. There are still flowers on the vine and small green bumps that might not ever be fruit. The olive is laden, the last tomatoes eaten by possums and the sorrel still going at a gallop.
We have had pumpkin soup with sage and butter croutons, kobocha pizza with blue cheese and walnuts - tonight Japanese steamed squash only partly pared and simmered chicken. 
Long live Autumn. I'm not quite wanting Winter yet.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To the mountains and the sea

For Mark's birthday this year instead of a party we made camp. He wanted to be on the road and under different skies and I understand that thinking. It's nice to leave the cosiness of home and leave a bit of yourself there also. Age comes on us quickly and time seems more expansive on the road. 
Preparing for the trip is both a pleasure and an exercise. I want to take everything. Mark wants almost nothing. I love all the equipment - the yellow gas burner, the red lamp, the picnic baskets, woven mats the hand sewn cutlery roll, the blackened billy can...The book box is a whole other story. I get pleasure from throwing in a patchwork quilt and a ceramic teapot. Mark doubts the necessity. 
On our first camping trip to the Snowy Mountains in 1986 we had a tent, a stove, a billy and sleeping bags (borrowed)- no table or chairs, no icebox. We put our milk and butter in a canvas bag tied with string and threw it into the river. The Swampy Plains river is all snow melt from Kosiosko. It's cold year round and makes a perfect pantry. Now we have a teardrop caravan. It has a soft bed, little wooden cabinets, reading lights - why not take a watercolour box, the dog and a load of field guides? We have the room.
Our week and a bit took us first to the mountains to see stars and Autumn colour. Camped by a pebbly river the first night in sub zero Bright, we then took the road up over Hotham and into the snow! No sight is more glorious to a city dweller in the Southern hemisphere. How quickly the landscape is changed by snowfall, especially after bushfire. It's an exercise of imagination now to see where the forest was - now it is leafless and rocky with the extreme changes in light that elevation brings. One moment everything was sharply defined - the next we were driving into a cloud. 
Each night we set up by a lake or by the sea. Cooking in the after-Easter-early-dark which comes on fast in April, putting our feet almost into the fire for precious heat, having one too many cups of tea before bed...getting up again at three for a wee under a thousand stars. Less frugal now than on our first trip - the highlights were of the same sort - finding a heart shaped stone, buying fresh walnuts, visiting the opshops, seeing snowfall, watching dolphins at dusk on the inside of a breaking wave, being cuddled together under a cold starry sky.