Tag Archives: weather

… a little bit of summer

flowers against a blue sky

flowers against a clear, blue, February sky…

February in this part of the world can either be the height of summer, with soaring temperatures and long, dry days, or a time when autumn winds make an early appearance, bringing drizzly weather.

early signs of autumn...

… and early signs of autumn’s approach

The year Will was born, February was a sizzler… I remember it well, because, Will being Will, he was late.  You really feel the heat when you are 9+ months pregnant.

This summer, not so.

It’s definitely been summer, with plenty of summery storms, but the temperatures have been mild.  The most you can really say is that it has been February…

…Will’s birthday month.

 

 

February birthdays can be a bit awkward. Being only just back at school makes it hard to provide friends with an adequate time frame for party invitations, and lots of families are too busy trying to get back into the swing of things to want to make the effort of a lengthy drive out to the bush.

This year felt like a bit of an anti climax for Will, too, as he had a very expensive Christmas gift that was also supposed to be for his birthday, as well, and many of the relatives that we usually rely on to be part of a family celebration were away on various holidays (one on the other side of the country).

I’ve promised that once the start of year madness has settled down we’ll organise a day at the go kart track or try our hand at some archery again, but for the time being it was just him and us. Our plan for fish and chips at the lake (take-away food is a rare event in our household) was cancelled due to an impending storm, but, since Will has recently discovered calamari rings, Matt decided to ‘do’ some calamari at home for something a bit different.

This might seem straightforward until you realise that prepared calamari is all highly gluten-y and way off my diet. Hey, you say, but weren’t you about to eat fish and chips down at the lake? No, not I.  I would have been bringing my own home-made salmon salad to eat while the boys had the fish and chips.

And… only ‘controllable’ gluten products usually make it into our kitchen (into a separate cupboard where only the brave dare go), so this calamari was going to be a Seventy Seven Acre special.

Matt went into the kitchen innocent of any major plan and, after some time turned out a dish that, to be honest, I had to be suspicious of… isn’t it a well known fact that squid has to be cooked incredibly quickly? Well, this took hours!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It. Was. Delicious. Tender. And. Juicy.

And I could eat it. Yay.

So here it is: Seventy Seven Acre ‘Calamari’ a la Matt

You will need…

  • squid (one tube was sufficient for the three of us)
  • lemon
  • coriander seeds
  • black pepper
  • chilli powder (or fresh chilli if you prefer, we didn’t have any on hand)
  • garlic
  • a decent sized mango (!)
  • small red and small green capsicum (peppers)
  • olive oil
  • white wine (enough to splash)

And so it begins…

  • get some squid rings (or a tube to slice up yourself) from a fishmonger who sells it (relatively) fresh – we live about 140 km away from the sea as the crow flies, and about 240 km via a windy road – so we had to take that the squid was fresh on trust – I’ve learned to be wary of frozen products which often have flour around them so they don’t stick together)
  • 4 hours (yep, that’s a 4) before you plan to serve it, marinade in lemon juice (about half a lemon freshly squeezed), freshly ground coriander and black pepper, chilli powder and garlic (to taste)
  • slice up the mango and add about a third of it to the marinade
  • let it all sit for 2 and a half hours (or so, while you head off to do something vitally important)

Later…

  • roughly dice the capsicum (peppers)
  • heat a minimal amount of olive oil in a pan suitable for sauteing (stainless steel is best)
  • saute capsicum, add the rest of the mango
  • add white wine to make a very wet sauce
  • bring to simmer
  • add the (by now well-marinated) squid
  • bring slowly back to a simmer and cook long and slow to reduce the sauce (this is the bit that made me suspicious, I was expecting a ‘throw it in and swish it around a few times’)

Much later…

  • Serve with salad of choice.
  • And / or rice if you wish.

PS Gran was good enough to make Will a superb birthday cake – my attempts having failed due to a lack of conventional oven and the little convection oven we’ve been using until we can afford to replace the now dead oven in our kitchen apparently being completely unsuitable for baking nut flour based cakes. Sadly. And expensively.

 

PPS the quote “…a little bit of summer” that I used for the title is actually about winter:

“One must maintain a little bit of summer,
even in the middle of winter.”

~Henry David Thoreau

but it seemed quite appropriate to our summer this year, which has seemed to be only a little bit of summer (although, I have loved our milder, rainier weather this year… really).

By the light of the silvery moon…

Sometimes magic happens when you go to do the most mundane of jobs.

It was a pretty cold evening (for an Australian summer) and the only reason I was outside was to check on the new diesel pump that we were running in by filling our fire-fighting water tank.

I’d already gone back in once to get a cardigan, but I was soon running back inside a second time to fetch the camera.

Matt was totally focused on the pump and how quickly it was filling up the big blue tank, but I had glanced up in time to see the full moon rising over the hills above our house.

A globe of brilliant, white light, stark in a dark sky, abruptly lit the clouds and created mysterious silhouettes of the trees behind our garden.

I was too slow to catch the moon cradled in the fold of the hills, and too shaky to hold the camera still for the two second exposure needed to get a clear picture, but Matt came up with the clever idea of leaning on our Landrover to hold the camera steady while we took the shot.

by the light of the silvery moon...

by the light of the silvery moon…

The picture will never do justice to the true beauty of the moment, but it preserves the sense of it, to gently remind me of it at a later time.

I would like to say that all you could hear was the whisper of the wind in the trees, but, sadly, any romantic sounds were well and truly drowned out by the pounding of the pump.

It really doesn’t matter, though, because, back in suburbia, I would never have seen the vision of the moon, resplendent and silver, because I would have been tucked up inside, avoiding the cold wind, with no reason to venture outside on such a chilly evening.

Instead, I got to share that magic moment with Matt, and have a memory filled with warmth and companionship, by the light of the silvery moon…

 

On a side note, By the Light of the Silvery Moon was a song by Edward Madden and Gus Edwards, published in 1909, and sung by Doris Day and Gordon McCrae in a 1950s movie of the same title. I remember it fondly – not because I was around then (either of the thens), but because my mother used to sing it to me as a lullaby when I was little. I suspect it meant a lot to her (possibly because of my dad, and possibly because her mother had sung it to her) and, if I remember rightly, she had the sheet music (I must check if she still has it). In the way of oral traditions, I’m pretty sure that I’ve sung it to my children as a lullaby, too. It is, of course, not a lullaby, but a love song:

By the light of the silvery moon
I want to spoon
To my honey, I’ll croon love’s tune
Honey moon, keep a-shinin’ in June
Your silvery beams will bring love’s dreams
We’ll be cuddlin’ soon
By the silvery moon

Place, park, scene, dark
Silvery moon is shining through the trees
Cast, two, me, you
Summer kisses floating on the breeze
Act one, be done
Dialogue, where would ya like to spoon?
My cue, with you
Underneath the silvery moon

By the light of the silvery moon
I wanna spoon
To my honey, I’ll croon love’s tune
Honey moon, keep a-shinin’ in June
Your silvery beams will bring love’s dreams
We’ll be cuddlin’ soon
By the silvery moon

Act two, Scene new
Roses blooming all around the place
Cast three, You me
Preacher with a solemn-looking face
Choir sings, bell rings
Preacher, you are wed forever more
Act two, all though
Every night the same encore

By the light, not the dark but the light
Of the silvery moon, not the sun but the moon
I wanna spoon, not croon, but spoon
To my honey, I’ll croon love’s tune
Honeymoon, honeymoon, honeymoon
Keep a-shinin’ in June
Your silvery beams will bring love’s dreams
We’ll be cuddlin’ soon
By the silvery moon
The silvery moon

It’s Raining Again…

…well, not actually at the moment, but we are enjoying a rainy start to the new year, which is just fine by me.

Rushing waters of our creek below the dam overflow

Water rushing down our creek below the main dam

 

Right at the moment our tanks are full, the dams are overflowing, the creek is running (rushing might be a better word), and the garden is green.

 

As I write, the sun is shining brightly outside and I even have washing on the line, but there is a cooling breeze and clouds dotted about the horizon, and, every day this last week or so, we’ve had rain blow in about mid-afternoon. Except for the last two days, which have been solid rain, all day!

 

 

Whilst others might lament a rainy summer break (Will certainly is – at least the bit with the afternoon thunder storms where we unplug the computers and TV/DVD player), I’m just loving it. I do admit to being one of those strange people who love the rain, generally, what with going for walks, the sound on the tin roof, curling up with a good book, etc., etc., but I also find it a lot less stressful than long, hot days watching the sky for smoke.  Just me.

Rain across the valley

Rains sweeps in across the valley during one of my walks – beautiful!

 

ripples

Ripples on the Frog Pond in the rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downsides? I suppose getting the clothes dry, the track slowly disintegrating as it gets washed down the hill, visiting ‘roos drenched through, Will telling me how bored he is the second he’s unplugged…

track

Some damage to the track after a heavy downpour.

 

sheltering from the rain

One of this year’s joeys takes shelter under our eaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sitting inside during the thundery downpours definitely has its good points, though. Apart from rediscovering the joys of games like Scrabble and Uno with Will and Matt, I’ve devoured four novels, three gardening books, and uncountable articles on writing, blogging and setting goals.

Hmm. That last point, there, brings me to the months that have gone by in silence since I last posted anything, back in July (very embarrassing when WordPress emailed my 2014 round-up!).

I’ve been feeling bad about that.

So, one of my goals for this year (still to be finalised, thanks to being overwhelmed inspired by so many great ideas, see above) is to make sure I have a blogging schedule. I’m going to be realistic and not promise anything weekly, but will be working on at least once a fortnight, looking at projects around the property, our visiting wildlife, the sheer beauty and serenity of living at Seventy Seven Acres, the occasional recipe or two, and random thoughts and ideas that pop up.

See you down the track in 2015!

Oh, and Happy New Year – a bit late perhaps, but let’s hope we all have a good one.

water

…this still early day

Early mornings always call to me…

Image

The soft light of the morning sun through the branches of an old tree beside the track.

… and this morning was no exception.

Up with the birds, I pottered around the house, checked my emails, found my camera, and waited for the subtle light of dawn to become strong enough to light my way for a morning stroll.  I was eager to be out and about.

It has been hot of late.  I mean hot.  Too hot to do much outside.  We had a week with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, with the sun too brilliant in a stark blue sky, and gusty, drying winds.  Every morning we closed up the house, drawing blinds and shutting windows to keep the heat out, and spent our days in quiet reading and long cool drinks.

Saturday saw us loading the water tank onto the back of the Land Rover and checking the pumps as the sky thickened with smoke blowing up from fires down the coast and to the south of us.  Keeping track of updates on the NSW RFS feed, we were very aware of five fires within 20 to 30 kilometres of Seventy Seven Acres.  Will and I were just back from a brief sojourn down at the beach, arriving home to find Matt busily preparing hoses and pumps, not sure, at that stage, how far away the fires were.

Having driven back through the smoke, and seen the way it was blowing inland as we got closer to home, I was pretty sure we were safe, but we were both keen to be certain.  At Matt’s suggestion, I turned the car around and did a bit of a trek down the Valley to check for any as yet unreported columns of smoke closer to home.  Matt was wondering whether there might be something in the forest reserve on our southern boundary which could have explained why the smoke was so heavy out our way.  All, however, was apparently clear  –  but the smoke was still getting thicker, and the wind was picking up.

I hadn’t unpacked the car from our overnighter at the beach, and decided that it could wait.  Just in case.

Then came the rain.

Not much, or for long, but enough to clear the air and damp down the parched grass.  It rode in on a southerly change which brought cooler air.  We all breathed again, and stood around in the rain, glad of the respite from the heat (and smoke).

Image

Trees reflecting in the still water of the bottom dam…

So, this morning I was determined to get out for a walk and take advantage of the milder weather.

I enjoyed my ramble around the bush, heading up the track and across to the top of the block before taking a diagonal path down towards the second creek and back to the rough track past the bottom dam and on below the house.  I then took a brief detour down the towards the road, then back up beyond the main dam, before cutting back to the house, taking some quick photos on the way.  Both dams are looking low after the hot, dry spell, but nothing to panic about, yet.

Image

You can see how the main dam is sitting a good 30cm lower than capacity.

All the tanks are close to full, and we have a bit more rain forecast for the coming week.  The sky is heavy with cloud at the moment, and I’m watching it carefully, but I don’t think it will rain before tonight.

I’m hoping that we’ll get enough rain to top up the dams and maybe green the place up a bit more, but even a small amount will be welcome…

… and if I’m lucky, I might even get to go for a walk in the rain tomorrow morning.