Monday, December 20, 2021

Mid summer Christmas

The forecast for Christmas is HOT -that is over 107.6 degrees fahrenheit. As usual here in Perth, really. We do all the usual Christmas things -but of course we don't have snow, and we don't need huge roast meals and pudding! We eat salads and ham and fish. I am making a traditional trifle for desert. 

We had a  Christmas choir performance in a local church. I took the pictures because I had lost my voice for a few days, but it was really lovely.  

With such hot weather, I have put up some more shade around the garden for a few days. A run of hot weather like this usually finishes off the lettuce, but hardy things like passionfruit and citrus usually survive as long as they are mulched and watered well.I am picking blueberries, mulberries, tomatoes, eggplants and rhubarb at the moment.

We helped our son put up a shade sail to protect a western wall of his house. We also spread some mulch under the fruit trees which are still quite young. DH is now making a couple of shade window blinds for the south west front of the house -it gets quite hot there in the late afternoon despite facing the south westerly sea breeze when it comes. 

So here we are a few days away from Christmas. Some parts of Australia already are struggling with the Omicron virus and the disappointment of another disrupted festive season. Our own state government has held on to its very tight border restrictions so our lives have continued pretty much as they did before the virus. All that is about to change. If the virus doesn't escape into the state before, we are supposed to open the borders on February 5th, when we have reached 90% of our population vaccinated. My own COVID booster is due mid January. None of us really know what will happen in February, but it will seem like a backwards step after all this time to be wearing masks and socially isolating. 

Anyway, I guess we will find out in Febrary. In the meantime, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas wherever you are. 

Here are a few things I found which you might enjoy.

Christmas in Australia -the video of a Paul Kelly song which is a favourite at Christmas

Making it better with volunteers 

How Nottingham is cutting carbon 

Syntropic farming for an abundant future

Best permaculture books written by women

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Birak -it is early summer


I have noticed the change of the seasons for a couple of weeks now, as the rain bands  have drifted away further south, and the daytime temperatures are warming up. On Nyoongar boodja the Nyoongar season word is Birak or early summer. The afternoons are cooled by the sea breezes that abound from the southwest.An almost clockwork style of easterly winds in the morning and sea breezes in the afternoon, meant that traditionally this was the burning time of year for Nyoongars.They would burn the country in mosaic patterns for several reasons including fuel reduction, increasing the grazing pastures for some animals, to aid in seed germination for some plants and for ease of mobility across the country.

As for the animals, there are many fledglings now venturing out of nests, though some are still staying close to their parents. Our family of magpies have succesfully got their fledglings out of the nest, but still come to us for snacks and a drink almost every day. 

The birds and I are getting used to a new backyard fence, which is about 50 cm higher than the old one, and instead of crumbling super 6 panels we now have a dark green colourbond fence with extra depth, into the soil, to fend off the glyphosate the Council sprays on weeds in the walkway behind it. It has made a lovely difference to our backyard, which I was not expecting, really. I would have liked something more see-through, so we could enjoy the walkway, but all efforts to get the council to stop spraying have failed. As this is where most of my fruit trees and vegetables are growing, a good high, deep fence is an investment. 

Our new apple tree has been setting fruit. We also have tomatoes and blueberries ripening on their vines and bushes, and I have been planting seedling lettuces. I reckon we have about 4 weeks before growing lettuces will be impossible, due to the heat, even under the 50% shadecloth covers I have installed. When this happens, I try to move into growing seeds to sprout stage indoors, as a substitute, instead of buying bags of lettuce leaves. 

I attended the annual general meeting of CARAD to talk about its history over the last 20 years, and was given this lovely flower arrangement. It was highly perfumed, too. By taking the flowers out of the foam, recutting the stems and putting them in vases, I was able to extend the life of the flowers for about 7 more days. 

The northern grapevine trellis is now offering useful shade, which will deepen as the season goes on. It keeps the hot sun away from the walls and windows whilst allowing any cooling breezes to get through. The grandchildren like to bring a blanket out here and sit under the vine for an afternoon tea picnic.

Last Sunday we decorated my house for Christmas. Our 7 year old grandson made these cupcakes with his Pa, to keep us all going as we worked. I used the classic whole orange cake recipe but added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon -could have been 2- for an extra seasonal spice. They were great. I am about to start wrapping presents and putting them under the tree. I have a few which were ordered early, to try to beat the problems with shipping and supply issues. 

This year my advent table is decorated with four Kosta Boda 'snowball" tealight holders, which I have collected from op shops over the years. As we get hotter days, most taper style candles struggle to stay upright, but tealights are easier to manage. We light one each week, adding to the number lit until just prior to Christmas all four candles are lit. The central candle is lit on Christmas day and is used daily to Epiphany on January 6. 

As I write the new Omicron strain of the COVID 19 virus has been detected in Sydney. I guess we are all hoping that it won't impinge too much on our Christmas celebrations, but only time will tell. The most important thing is to stay safe and take care of each other as much as we possibly can.

I leave you with these things I found recently.