A Change of Season

nature - autumn (1 of 1)Peeking through the bank of native trees outside my study window, I see splotches of the red and orange of a deciduous immigrant. The sun sparkle dances off the leaves creating tongues of flame licking at the blue above. The ground beneath the trees is wet with puddles reflecting leaves and sky, remnants of the rain that pelted us over the last few days.

nature - autumn (2 of 6)According to the calendar, we’ve passed from autumn to winter here down under. The Aussies count their seasons from the first day of the month in which the equinox or solstice occurs. Yet, there are not actually only four seasons here. That’s an idea the Europeans brought with them. In fact, season is not so much a matter of calendar or even temperature as it is of other natural indicators. A couple days ago, we were bundled in wool sweaters and socks with the heater on, and yesterday I had the window open, and the scene from that window looks like autumn.

stitched wheel of the year (1 of 1)I’ve been stitching an embroidered wheel of the year, one meant to represent the seasons of both the northern and southern hemispheres. This awareness and marking of the seasons is a primary tenet of my personal spiritual practice. As I tried to force the Australian seasons to match up with the northern hemisphere round, it became clear that the seasons aren’t just flipped.

Even in the northern hemisphere, “spring” may arrive before or after the Vernal Equinox. As I chose symbols to embroider for each season, I could see how the seasons meld one into the next, and the date of the equinox or solstice wasn’t necessarily an indicator. What is spring in Texas is still winter in Utah. Of course, others will tell me that “spring” in Utah means snow. And in Colorado the locals refer to second and third winter, those heavy, wet snowfalls that cover the land then melt the next day with the return of the sun.

nature - autumn (4 of 6)As I enter my second winter here, I continue to try to wrap my mind around the idea of Australian seasons, to take my brain out of the four season European paradigm, to take a more intuitive approach. I’m learning about the seasons by marking the daily weather conditions in my calendar, and by being aware of which native trees are blooming around me as I go on my walks.

nature - autumn (6 of 6)These kind of natural indicators are how Australia’s Indigenous people have been counting the seasons for the last 50,000 years. The Aboriginal idea of seasons has traditionally been connected to food supply, need for shelter, animal behavior, and the land itself.

seasons of the year D'harawal PeopleI went on an internet search wanting to understand Australia’s seasons from the perspective of the Traditional Land Owners. I found this chart that shows we’re now in the time when the Burringoa, or Red Gum, is flowering. I’ll remember now that when the wind blows drifts of pollen into my living room it’s Tugarah Tuli.

I find nature’s cycles comforting; they ground me in place and time. Now nature tells me it’s time for cuddling on the sofa with afghans, and for baking bread and simmering pots of soup. As I watch the seasons change again and compare this June to last, I’m feeling a growing sense of familiarity in this still new-to-me land; I feel my roots reaching a bit deeper into the Australian soil.

Say Yes to Life

cooks river greenway birds freelance writer (28 of 31)I’ve enjoyed writing for local Ciao Magazine, because it gets me out seeing places and meeting people that I never would otherwise. Last week, I was working on a piece about bicycle paths in the Inner West. I needed to go take photos, but was really not motivated to do it. I had a cold, I’d recently hurt my back, and all I really wanted to do was curl up with an ice pack and a glass of bourbon. Instead, I grabbed my camera and hopped on the bus. I’m so glad I did.

cooks river greenway birds freelance writer (2 of 31)My first stop was at a section of the GreenWay, a green corridor from Iron Cove down to Cooks River, where there are some existing bike paths, and the local councils are working on putting in more. I didn’t see a single bike rider here, but I did see drunk Santa passed out under a tree! I never would have got to see that if I’d stayed home!

cooks river greenway birds freelance writer (14 of 31)My next stop was Cooks River.  I was wandering down the path waiting for cyclists to go by, when I spotted something up ahead in the distance. Birds! More specifically, Great Cormorants.

plastic covered cormorant (1 of 1)It wasn’t until I was home and looking at my photos, that I saw this poor guy covered in plastic. I had noticed an incredible amount of garbage floating in the river. I called the wildlife rescue for that area, and they said they’d send somebody over to look.  I hope they were able to help him. I never did hear anything back.

cooks river greenway birds freelance writer (6 of 8)Continuing my bicycle-turned-bird walk, I came across something that did make me squeal out loud. I’m glad there weren’t many people out that day. This is my first ever sighting of a Royal Spoonbill! I’m going back with my telephoto lens to get some better pics. Maybe I’ll drag the husband along, too.

cooks river greenway birds freelance writer (8 of 8)I stalked this Australian Pelican for quite a way down the river, until he got weary of me and flew off. I was fiddling with my camera settings and completely missed him swallowing a mouthful of fish.

cooks river greenway birds freelance writer (7 of 31)This is a Purple Swamphen. I never knew there was such a thing.

bike ride freelance writer (3 of 4)Later in the week, in the course of an interview, I was asked to go on a bike ride. I’ve been on a bike only once in the last 21 years, and that was two years ago when Salt Lake blocked off downtown streets for their Open Streets event. The thought of riding in Sydney scared the crap out of me, so at first I gave excuses of why I couldn’t do it. I don’t have a bike; I’m on deadline. Well, she had an extra bike. Something inside me sparked and said, “say yes to life!” I took her up on her offer.  That is definitely something I would not have done if not for that assignment. What started out as research for an article, turned out to be a chance for me to overcome fear, and I felt like superwoman afterwards!

A Mother’s Day Excursion

Palm Beach(12 of 13)Continuing in my effort to visit every single beach in the Sydney area, and to document each and every wave, we set off on Mother’s Day to visit our primordial mother, the Sea.

bus tripOur adventure began with a ferry ride to Manly, where we picked up a bus going north, with one quick transfer.  It was about an hour’s ride along the coast, with gorgeous water views along the way, interspersed with woodsy areas and homes surrounded by trees and gardens.  I noticed the air change as we traveled north; it took on a woody aroma.

Palm Beach5 of 13)We took the bus as far as it would go and landed at Palm Beach.

Palm Beach13 of 13)Our original plan had been to hike up to Barren Joey Lighthouse,

Palm Beach(11 of 13)but there were no waves up there!

Palm Beach (9 of 13)I’m pretty sure between the two of us, we took about seventy-five million photos.

Palm Beach(7 of 13)Don’t get your camera wet!

Palm Beach (2 of 13)While a little chilly for swimming, it was still a beautiful day for the beach.  In contrast to Bondi and other more popular beaches, this one was mostly deserted.  There were a few families there picnicking and playing in the sand.  I got overly nervous about little kiddos too close to that surf.

Palm Beach(3 of 13)This sneaky fellow was pretending he wasn’t just snooping through our bags!

Palm Beach (10 of 13)It was one of those perfect, peaceful days when you can just feel the serotonin whooshing through your brain and you thank the Universe for putting you here.

Are you tired of beaches yet?

More Sydney Beaches – Bronte Beach

Bronte Beach (15 of 20)After being landlocked for so many years, I find I cannot get enough of the sea. Craig calls me obsessed as the weekend rolls around and I say, “oh guess where we’re going, honey!”  You can travel all over the damn place here on a Sunday for no more than $2.50 for the entire day. That’s a lot of beaches to visit, and I’m working on seeing them all.

Bronte Beach (13 of 20)A few weeks ago, we went to Bronte Beach, one of the beaches of the eastern suburbs.

Bronte Beach (19 of 20)It was a windy day, with lots of surf.  We thought we’d just dip our toes in.  After being slammed into the sand a few times, I insisted I’d had enough!  As much as I wanted to swim, I knew that was beyond my abilities.

Bronte Beach (10 of 20)Those waves belonged to the surfers.

bronte calm (1 of 1)After getting ourselves settled in the sand, we noticed that further south down the beach was this more sheltered area.  There is a rock break that helps create the larger waves to the north of it, while holding back the surf to the south end of the beach.  It was perfect for floating and bobbing in smaller, more manageable waves, great for families with children and others who would rather not drown.

Just on the other side of this is a salt water lap pool built into the rocks.  We didn’t swim there, and for some odd reason I didn’t even take a photo of it.  I was too busy watching the waves from a safe vantage point!

Up next – Shelly Beach:)



Tramps in the Woods

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A couple weeks ago, Craig and I decided some nature was needed.

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We took a wee little hike up City Creek Canyon.  The sound of running water is so soothing.

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As is being surrounded by green.  Colors weren’t quite changing yet.  They certainly are now!

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Acorns were still on the trees.

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We saw lots of bicyclists.

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Deep in thought over those camera settings.

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Can you find the bird?

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My favorite part of the walk was when this guy came running down the hill with this giant stick and dropped it at Craig’s feet like that’s just what he was there for!  His human came over the top of the hill moments later.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if we were all inclusive like dogs, inviting the whole world to join in our fun and sharing our sticks?

Road Trip to Zion

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We’ve lived here in Utah ten years this week and this is the first time we’ve been to Zion National Park.   Our attempts to get there are really rather amusing.  Last September, we drove down to St. George to visit Craig’s parents and to borrow their luggage.  We thought, “Hey! Let’s go to Zion’s while were here!”  Not considering that it was Labor Day weekend, we packed up and headed for the park.  Everyone in the world was there!  The parking lot was full and the only choice was to go to town, park, and take the shuttle back.  We didn’t have that much time, so chose to come back a different day.

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We chose Memorial Day weekend!  Yes, we are brilliant.  Really we thought that we’d go after the weekend and all would be fine.  So we drove back down to his parents.  On Tuesday, we had a leisurely morning, then set out towards the park.  We’d gone barely a mile and Craig realized he had forgotten his sunglasses, so we turned around.  We set out again and after we’d driven somewhat farther, my phone rang.  It was an important call I had been expecting, about which I’ll share in a few days.  Anyway, we had to turn around again so I could take care of an important task relating to the call and involving my computer which was back at the in-laws.

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So back we went.  By now it’s lunch time and we’re all hungry.  We decide to eat lunch and then try again.

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Oh wait.  Craig read his email and discovered that someone had scheduled him for an important, perhaps life changing, phone call that afternoon. It’s getting quite comical now.

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My sun and stars:)

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On Wednesday morning, we decided to try again before we headed home. This time we got all the way to the park!  We parked and hopped on the shuttle that drove us through the park, stopping at the sights to see.

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We decided to forgo the walk along the edge of the cliff face.  That arrow is pointing at a hiker.

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Here is a better view of what he’s walking across.

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The scenery was grand and breathtaking.
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Spectacular it was.

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If you’d like to see more pics, I’ve put them over on Flickr.

Sitting with Bees

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There are times when you just need to let go of everything and go sit with bees.

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I did that the other day, and took pictures of them of course!

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I promise not to make you look at all 150 of them;)  There is lots of fodder here for future bee paintings!

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I’ve felt very anxious and stressed out lately. Sitting there in the lavender, watching the bees mill about was relaxing and peaceful.

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The aromatherapy of the lavender did much to soothe my senses.

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It was so very interesting watching their behavior. There was a large group of these more mellow, yellow bees, who buzzed about lazily, going about their business.

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Then this lady showed up. She was alone, and much whiter.  She flew around really fast, torpedoing, (actually making contact!) the other bees and chasing them off the flowers. It was curious to me how this one lone bee could be so aggressive against the larger group. They made no effort to gang up and chase it off. Maybe there is a lesson here for human behavior. I don’t know. What do you think? Can you see parallels?

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I need to follow these bees’ example and be industrious. We are packing up and heading to Colorado tomorrow. That means I have lots of work to finish today! I’ll take next week off from blogging, but will bring back pretty pics of Colorado.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Join Me for a Virtual Birding Adventure

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Red Winged Blackbird
Yesterday, a friend and I went to visit the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. I haven’t been there in over a year.

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Great Blue Heron
It’s one of my favorite day trips here in Utah.

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Western Grebes
All the cares and stress that build up just slip away when I’m there with the birds and the air and the water.

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American White Pelican
It’s time to paint more pelicans.

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American Avocets
These guys are so dainty:)

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Black Necked Stilt
I don’t know if this is mom or dad……

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Eggs of Black Necked Stilt
but it thought we were way too close to the nest! Can you see the eggs there?

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White Faced Ibis
These birds have the most amazing, iridescent plumage.

There are more pics over at Flickr if you want to see them:)