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Summer gifts

Or, why is the grass always greener?

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As I write this post today, the 19th December, the forecast temperature is 43 degrees, (that’s 109.4 in Fahrenheit).  Should we reach this figure, it will be the hottest day in December in South Australia for 80 years.  I will say that this is considered very hot, and truly out of the ordinary.  Sylvie is at her last day of holiday tennis clinic today.  Due to the heat, they have begun at 8am and the children shall finish by 10.30 am, flushed and over-warm.  The tennis coaches will spray the students with bottles of iced water and there will be frequent breaks for re-hydration. After the class ends, we will climb into the car and blast the air conditioning to MAX.  The steering wheel and seats will be hot to the touch.  In the back of my mind, there is the nagging fear of the threat of bushfires.  Sylvie will sing “Jingle bells” all the way home.

We dream of one day experiencing a White Christmas, to dash through the snow in a ‘one horse open sleigh’…  Sylvie’s number one childhood Christmas fantasy would be to build a snowman…  I would enjoy waking to see a blanket of white around me, and to see once again, some snowflakes falling (I first saw snowflakes fall this year, I was delighted to discover they were magically SILENT).

The festive spirit is strong in our household, and, amongst the traditional Christmas carols we play in high rotation, we delight in classic American Christmas songs; swingin’ Frank Sinatra’s version of “Jingle bells”, the eternally elegant Nat King Cole singing ” The Christmas song” and it’s just not Christmas for us without Perry Como telling us that “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”.  And my personal favourite… “Winter wonderland”.

So it’s Christmas time; and like many across the world, we’re wrapping presents, writing cards and switching on the Christmas tree lights every night, but unlike the music that we listen to that describes a snowy outdoors, and which defines so much of our modern Christmases; (“Baby, it’s cold outside”), for us in the Antipodes, ‘Baby, it’s hot outside’.

We discuss our intended menu for Christmas Day, whilst hearing about sleigh bells ringing and snow that is glistening.  A balmy 27 degrees (80.6 F) is expected on the 25th, and we shall eat our Christmas luncheon on the deck outside, looking out over the hills at the parched paddocks.  No Christmas pud, too hot, too rich.  Fruit salad for dessert instead.  In the late afternoons, the heat distorts our view of the horizon as it ripples up from the land and rises to the skies above.  Should the hot winds stay away we will return to the deck at the end of the day to observe the spectacular sunset.

I decorate the house with the flora that I find around me.  The roses are spent, they have generously given this season, alas there are few blooms remaining to be seen.  So I make do with the beautiful grasses, a myriad of types.  There are scissors and secateurs in the glove box of the car.  I’m that lady you see leaning in from the side of the road to clip and gather that which most would not consider worthy of notice, the brilliant roadside grasses and weeds.  Such a delicate palette of soft greens, fading to pale biscuit tones as they dry and release their seeds.  If one chooses to venture out on one of these hot afternoons, the drying winds buffet your face and you return inside swiftly, for a glass or two of cool water.  Should I choose to walk in the paddocks at sunset, the dry grass would crunch underfoot. Apparently snow makes a crunching sound underfoot.  I guess the similarities of a cold Christmas versus a hot one end there.

Wishing all a happy holiday season, wherever you are, be it a hot or cold ‘clime.  Remember to notice the small details in your habitat that define the season, the birds that remain to entertain you with their calls, and the flora that emerges.  They truly are thrilling gifts, and you only have to open your heart and eyes to see them.

Best wishes, Lara-Jane.

My collection of grasses clipped from the roadsides nearby; laid out on the tiled floor.

The best place to photograph the arrangement is outside…
As at 4.30pm in the afternoon, we’ve almost hit 43…

 

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