Big Question Marks

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Spring flowers... in September

It's a really weird thing, coming from Canada, to feel spring fever in September. Last year at this time we were on the road in Queensland where it's forever hot, like Australia is supposed to be-- according to tourist brochures anyway. But after surviving winter in cold-weather-denial-city Melbourne, with all of its uninsulated housing and people wandering the streets in t-shirts when it's 4 degrees, the arrival of warm spring sunshine really does have us excited!

Yesterday we took Daisy on a mini road trip out to the Dandenongs, a smallish mountain range on the eastern fringes of Melbourne, about 45 minutes from our suburb. We'd spent this week getting her all fixed up for our road trip-- she was a little overdue for an oil change and service. We called up the really good mechanic who fixed Daisy up that time she wouldn't start back in June, and she's now running better than ever. Richard the mechanic said she's in fabulous shape for her age and should have no problems doing the 18,000 km we hope to cover. She's even got a working horn again, so we can amuse ourselves by honking at sheep in the Outback. Plus, Adrian surprised us both with his secret soldering talents and now we have full stereo in the car as well!

Daisy did well yesterday in the mountains too-- we'd been reading about the Dandenongs for a while and thought it was about time to visit. We were surprised to find such a different scene not far from the city-- roads winding through rainforests of giant ferns, enormously thick trees, and cute little villages. We were hoping to do a little bird-watching-- the area's known for having Lyrebirds, which can imitate nearly anything-- but no luck this time. (Check out a video of one here!) We took a mosey through William Ricketts Sanctuary, the interesting former property of a nature-loving sculptor who, inspired by his years spent with Aboriginal people in central Oz, created a forest wonderland of pathways dotted with ceramic sculptures of people, possums, and other creatures which blend perfectly into the forest. His poetry was a little nutty, the faces sometimes a bit creepy, but the concept was pretty cool.

And while poor Adrian ended up at work on this sunny Sunday morning, I got to spend a couple of hours getting our balcony garden started. There was quite a bit of weeding to do, and a couple of pretty dead plants to pull which didn't survive the winter, but we were lucky to be left with a very hearty mystery succulent plant in one corner. Aside from that, it was a blank canvas. We'd picked up a few flowering plants from a little market yesterday in the Dandenongs-- not nearly enough, I've realized-- but we now have one of our three flower boxes planted and ready for the nice weather. We'll take pictures of our new flower friends as they grow (fingers crossed they thrive!)
Our newbies, left to right: Linaria "Fairy Bouquet"; Blue Marguerite; Parade Roses.

* There are a lot of conflicting opinions online about when the 1st day of spring is here in Oz (we've read everything from the 1st of August to September 23), we're pretty sure it's September 1. The other way to tell is that there are now many people wandering around in flip-flops (or thongs, as they call 'em here). We've even seen some guys in board shorts, and a few bogans in a grocery store wearing tube tops and shorts yesterday... that's the real way to tell the season in these parts.