Wild Windy Weather

There seems to have been a resurgence of windy weather atop the Blue Mountains lately.

After one particularly windy spell, I was in a cafe when I heard one of the staff explain the wind phenomenon in the mountains. Well, her theory of it at least. The location of villages along the ridge of the mountain top – roughly along the original road and trails crossing the mountains – meant that the impact of gusty winds are stronger and more localised.

The past week has been peppered with days of high winds, which are trying enough, but then there are the wind gusts which literally knock you sideways. Walking around the main and side streets of Katoomba, there are funnels of wind that spin about, making it a challenge to walk down a steep incline due to the force of the gusts.

This weekend there has been a couple of days of reprieve – gorgeous spring weather full of sunshine, the scent of blossoms and the promise of warmer times ahead. I am trying not to dwell on the forecasted return of the winds later this week.

One of my memories of primary school involved the notorious winds of August and September in Sydney. There had been a huge wind storm and we were all gathered into the assembly hall to keep us safe from flying objects. This was exciting enough, then part of the roof blew off. For days afterwards there were stray bits of roofing, fences and other miscellany scattered around the suburb. I don’t recall anyone being injured, thankfully, but it was a big deal at the time.

High winds were pummeling the mountains on the day I moved in to my new home. I was moving incrementally, and had a fold-up bed, chairs and card table in my car, along with blankets and a kettle and enough bits to keep me going for a few days. My uncle had given me a box of firewood so I had the wood heater going which was lucky as the electricity went out overnight with trees falling across lines during the wind storm, and it was the warmth of the stove that kept my spirits up the next morning when I was without power in a strange place with wind buffeting the windows and doors, wondering just what I’d got myself in for this time.

As with other instances of wild weather, it makes me appreciate the relative calmness of the every day when it returns.

[Photo: plush toy spotted in the main street of Katoomba – not a wind related incident!]

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Summer Garden Blues

The talk for weeks in Australia has been about the heat. As we are in late summer that isn’t necessarily a surprise, but swathes of days of above average temperatures have captured the conversation of just about everyone. The heat is being felt even in the usually cooler upper Blue Mountains, with expected highs nearing forty degrees. Sustained hot weather and wind gusts lead to fire bans and warnings of catastrophic fire conditions.

There are signs of heat fatigue in the garden, but a few days of rain mid-week have helped and at present it is awash with purple and blue blooms. There are agapanthus, wisteria and petunias of a particularly deep, lush shade of purple. Hebe blossoms bristle in the breeze, a mix of magenta, bright pink and white flowers. A late blush of hibiscus blooms along the fence are a mixture of soft mauve and crimson. Tucked among dark green foliage, there is the tiny flash of purple and pink lobelia flowers.

Vincas offer up clean white petals, anchored by a deep pink centre. There are white and purple shades of alyssum, one of the favourite plants of my childhood. The odd pansy is still in flower, the self-sown plants lasting the longest. Bright pink and red fuchsia flowers abound with delicate bell-shaped blooms. The vivid green and purple of coleus leaves provide a contrast to the soft pink begonia plants set against brown foliage. The bright red petals of salvia, bookmarked along green spikes, draw the eye.

After the rain bright white daisy flowers appeared overnight. The gracious dark blue petals of an old hydrangea shrub nestle against the fence. Soft pink salmon petals of geranium plants, one of the hardiest plants I’ve had in several gardens in varying climates, endure through most conditions. And, a hidden gem, blue-studded blossoms on a plumbago variant. A constant delight.

What is blossoming in your garden?

[Photo of Chinese plumbago]

Mini Mountain Moments

Some observations from my recent wanderings.

  • Spotting a unicycle in the back of a ute.
  • Stray beanies left on the steps of a shopfront. A sign that spring is on its way?
  • Smiles. Lots of smiles.
  • Standing quietly and feeling a tangle of languages and moments and experiences wrap around me. ‘When I was in Spain …’ ‘Have you seen …?’
  • The click-clack of luggage being hauled along by tourists across the paved footpaths.
  • Hissing buses taking tourists around the sites, their faces smudged against the glass.
  • Backpackers carrying what seems like their own body weight on their back, foreheads covered with bright scarves.
  • Phones and cameras wielded with enthusiasm at the many look outs and beauty spots, as well as along the main streets in the villages.
  • Long term locals identifiable by their easy walking gait up the steep stretches of Katoomba Street.
  • The elasticity of time. People completely relaxed, with all the available time in the foreseeable future, or in a rush, trying to jam as many experiences as possible into a tight timeframe as if on a manic kind of quest.
  • Changeable weather. The high clouds sometimes dart across the sun providing shade before moving on and a blinding light follows.
  • A feeling of acceptance that is difficult to define. An attitude that whoever you are, that’s okay.
  • Sighting a recorder (the musical woodwind instrument, that is) lying in a display of bright spring blooms. I thought later that I should have taken a photo for #MyISpy but when I went past the next day it was gone as someone else must have spotted the musical potential.
  • An assortment of tantalising aromas from the wide range of restaurants and cafes.
  • Murals tucked into the many alleyways, just waiting to be discovered.

What have you spotted, heard, smelt or felt in your neighbourhood lately?

[Photo: Butterfly Walk, Katoomba]