Since the first Huon Valley Midwinter Festival inspired us to celebrate rather than hibernate in the middle of July back in 2013, the event has grown in reputation and scale, outgrowing the Willie Smiths Apple Shed site. This year it relocated to the Huon Valley Showgrounds at Ranelagh, a couple of kilometers down the road.
Organisers put a lot of effort into logistics and into creating an environment that aimed to match the rustic charm of the old apple orchards from which it sprang, so it was perhaps unfortunate that the weather really decided to test the celebratory mood by turning on rain, sleet and snow (on the surrounding ranges) for the weekend. But if you are serious about celebrating the coldest, darkest, wettest time of year, then you need to take the weather in your stride, whatever it brings. And put your gumboots on!
As I mentioned in an earlier post it has been cold here. This morning as I waited outside for my ride I snapped a few pictures with my phone. We had a really big frost this morning which didn’t clear until well after 9 am. These were taken at around 8:30 am. In fact, when Donna arrived to pick me up I was unable to close the car door after getting in. Neither of us had ever seen that before.
While I was waiting I caught the local garbage recycling van in the act of emptying a bin. Mine were not out as there was not much in either rubbish or recycle bin. On my own, I find I don’t need to put them out every week.
I’ve practically been in hibernation this past week. It has been quite cold and apart from going to and from the Op Shop or out for coffee with friends I’ve really not been anywhere or done anything worthy of note. In the evenings I’ve curled up with the laptop while most of my photo archive lives on a hard drive attached to the desktop computer which I haven’t switched on in about three days.
So if anyone was worried where I’d got to don’t. It’s just winter and a bit of a writing slump.
These first two photos were taken around Geeveston, at Heritage Park and at the Geeveston Primary School. They are not actually in a lawn but they are garden ornaments. The third one is a topiary bird at Oatlands and the last one is the floral clock at the Botanical Gardens.
As Cee has given us an open choice this week I went looking in my archives for something interesting and found some photographs that I took at Port Huon several years ago now. Port Huon used to be an extremely busy port as apples were sent from here to overseas ports. After Britain joined the European Common Market trade declined and so did the port. There is a little boat repair business at one of the nearby slipways but most other businesses that were there have long gone.
When I took these photos it was still possible to go on to the wharf to fish or take photos but it is used by a fish farming operation and I believe that they have now completely closed off the wharf to the public. I love old buildings like these and I thought that the old sheds would make good subjects in black and white.
“You can’t eat scenery.” someone said to me once. I think we had been remarking on the lovely views from a house we’d been looking at. As a practical person I know that’s true but I do like to live in appealing surroundings. Tasmania is a state with some sensational scenery which is why many people from the other states choose to make their home here. The Huon Valley, where I live, is one of the prettiest parts of Tasmania.
I never get tired of looking at the views of the Huon River. Sometimes it’s mirror smooth, sometimes it’s grey and cold looking.
Tasmania was a huge apple producer until the 1970s and there are old packing sheds and pickers huts dotted here and there. There are still orchards although many growers have changed to cherries now.
When I used to work in Hobart I would travel to and from Geeveston on the bus, a trip of over an hour but I never got tired of the views. I imagined all the tourists who would be paying good money to see views that I saw nearly every day.
Occasionally in winter, there may be a heavy snowfall. Often I want to say to the driver, “Stop the bus!” so I can take photos but of course I can’t do that so I sometimes try to snap a few out of the window.
I don’t actually have much of a view from my house. I can see the road and a row of tall gum trees, not the water or the hills or fields but the views are all around me so I don’t really mind.
It has rained every day this week and the next few days are looking no better. There has been no opportunity to go anywhere except to the Op Shop and yesterday out for a meal with friends. As I’m having trouble thinking about what to write about I thought it would be interesting to go back to June 2013 and see what I was writing about back then. What do you know? I was writing about the weather. I had just started joining in with the Daily Prompt and this one was about rain. It is interesting to look back considering that since I wrote this we’ve had drought conditions again and the terrible bushfires last summer.
Singing In The Rain
When I think of these words I immediately think of the famous scene in the movie of the same name where Gene Kelly dances in the pouring rain. It’s a catchy song but I have to say that on the few occasions I’ve been caught in a rainstorm and soaked to the skin I did not feel in the least like singing and dancing. Squelching along with sodden shoes and wet clothes sticking to you is no fun, especially if you know you have an hour long bus ride home to endure before you can get out of them. I can remember two or three occasions when it has happened to me and most of them seem to involve rained out sporting events.
However, I do enjoy listening to the rain when I’m snug and cosy at home. It feels good to be in a warm room or a warm bed listening to the rain thundering on the galvanised iron roof.
“It’s really coming down out there.” David and I used to say to each other.
“I’m glad we’re not out in it.”
Of course, there is more than just being grateful for our good fortune in having a roof over our heads. After a hot dry summer, it is wonderful to see how everything turns green again after a good rain.
Many people think that it rains all the time in Tasmania and parts of it are quite wet at times, but Hobart itself is the second driest capital city in Australia. Adelaide, where we used to live, is the driest.
There were drought conditions here for some years in the mid-2000s and the Midlands and east coast of Tasmania really suffered. Farmers had to put stock down because there was no feed. Lake Dulverton at Oatlands dried up completely. I was told that years ago they used to have sailing and even speed boat racing on Lake Dulverton, I have walked around the lake and seen the remains of moorings. There was even a sailing club and the building is still there. That year the lake itself reminded me of the cover of the Midnight Oil album “Red Sails In The Sunset” which showed Sydney Harbour with no water.
It would have made a great dirt bike track at that time.
Finally, there came a wet winter, it rained and rained. Gradually the lake filled and finally, in spring of 2009 it was full for the first time in many years. I remember visiting the lake around this time and seeing people rowing and fishing on the lake. That did make me feel like singing.
So even though I curse it when I get caught in it or when David used to spatter the washing with mud with his car or I fell over in the garden I really do love the rain because it brings new life.
For some reason, birds seem to really like my driveway. I see more birds out there than I do in the back garden where there are more trees and plants.
I happened to glance out the kitchen window on Saturday afternoon and to my surprise, a flock of birds were hopping around in the drive. I dropped what I was doing and hurried to get the camera and fit the long lens.
I didn’t want to open the window and scare them away so I just shot through the glass. I took a lot of photos hoping that I’d get some good ones.
They are European Goldfinches, described in my bird book as a feral species found around towns, farms and settlements in Australia. They gather in large flocks in autumn and winter and feed on seeds. They are quite common, I’ve seen them in the garden before but never a whole flock.
Some of them even hopped closer and started to search for seeds right in front of the window. They stayed quite a while before something startled them and they all took off.