A cool winter’s afternoon and friend, in the garden.
After ten weeks of no rain, suddenly the heavens opened up and we received a welcome downpour. Summer here on the mountain can be a mixed blessing. Most of the the time we indulge in sheltered, lush greenery, going about our business of watering, potting, raking or contemplating! However, when the north winds blow, dry our soil and scatter bark and branches about and the risk of grass or bush fires permeate our waking, and sometimes, sleeping thoughts, that’s when we become obsessed by the CFA (Country Fire Authority) website. Their current APP tells us how far the nearest fire is to our property. As a matter of course, we then have the cat boxes and chicken cages at the ready should we need to leave on a total fire ban day. Such is life on the Mount – a balancing act of mind over nature!
Therefore, you can easily gauge our relief when the rains eventually come. No, not like the monsoonal rains in the 1939 film with Myrna Loy and Tyrone Power – The Rains Came nor the other flooding and earth quaking 1955 The Rains of Ranchipur with Lana Turner and Richard Burton, but the soaking, refreshing and cooling rains which hopefully snuff out any lingering or smouldering embers. Both these films, you might know, are versions of Louis Bromfield’s novel set in India. As we live up here surrounded by trees we are the envy of Melburnian’s who often have to swelter while we enjoy a cooler five degrees. Further up the mountain, grand residences such as Darjeeling and Tieve Tara conjure up a romantic past as we experience what is known as a late summer or Indian Summer.
Summer here is the least colourful of the seasons. There are few flowering plants in our garden right now. The obligatory blue agapanthus, the well-watered hydrangeas, many pots, some begonias, a few geraniums and silent hellebores are amongst the limited colours.
Then, when least expected, a great spiny arch entangled in the camellias or rhododendrons looks you in the face. You recoil only to be greeted with tiny deep purple orbs. Your hand reaches toward the irresistible cluster.
The mountainside and the bush always seem to reveal a surprise. Recently while exploring the bottom section of our block we came across a huge, dug out hole.
This brings me to the second reason why we live here on the side of the mountain – the wildlife. Yes, if you haven’t guessed it this is a wombat hole. His home or burrow. Wombat holes can up to 3 metres deep and run along for up to 100 metres! They are nocturnal animals so a photo is difficult to come by (but we are trying). Our very brave cat, Sarge, who often accompanies me when I am gardening or clearing up, decided to explore this new discovery.
We have seen and Wombat wandering around the streets at night and have dubbed him Maxi because of his stumpy, chubby size. Recently I commented on four reasons why we live here, the fauna comes next after the flora. Apart from wombats and the odd echidna digging up my stone walled pathways, cockatoos often come to perch on our deck. These two sulphur crested ones shared a cuddle!