For over a month now I've been struggling to find time to make note of one of my simplest pleasures - the southern / autumn equinox. How strange it seems as I read about the prolonged northern winter and its stuttering spring that down here the season I enjoy most is that of the transition away from the high sun.
Summers here are bimodal. For all the fun of hot days and warm languid evenings, of swimming and the smell of salt and the sea, of on-shore breezes and wild thunderstorms, these are the holiday summers of the city. In the bush, the focus is elsewhere. The sun sits high, its heat is harsh and burning. The dry sclerophyllic forest continually drops leaves, crisp and dry and almost smelling of ignition. Bush fires are on everyone's mind. Water is precious and you wait, and wait, for rain.
And there's snakes about. They're more frightened of me than I used to suspect and will be off in a flash unless cornered. But I do worry about the dog although she's a sensible bush girl, alert and cautious. Nonetheless, there is some unspoken relief in not having to watch every footstep as the weather cools and they slow down and slumber.
So, come the lowering sun, a calmness settles on the country. The overlong glaringly bright days shift into a lovely balance of light and dark; the rhythms of life are gentler. Tensions ease. Day by day I watch the shifting of the sunrise from south south-east to due east. The first rays soften, playing horizontal light across the grass till they find the house. The sun now becomes a blessing.