Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Omens or not, two unusual things just happened.

Yesterday, there was a black snake on the road from the house to the little stone bridge which slightly arches over a run-off into the dam. That in itself isn't strange, near a dam loaded with frogs, but it was early in the day, and early in the season. Admittedly the weather changed suddenly, from a cold weekend to an sharp reminder of the summer weather patterns with nor-norwesters drawing warm air down ahead of a southerly change. Even if there's little palpable air movement. when I hear the trains in the night (and I had the night before), sometimes so close they could be clackety-clacketing across the lawn, I know the draft is from the north and the day will be mild.

And then today after the walk, sitting at this desk, I wiped my forehead with that subcortical awareness of something, only to find a tick on my hand. A tick! There's no ticks here. They told me that at the local produce store when we moved here years ago. I'd gone to ask about dogs and tick wash. 'Where are you from then?', they said, 'no ticks here mate''. They were right, until today. I know ticks. I grew up on the upper North Shore and this was a tick, on its way across my brow to somewhere softer and more penetrable, like my ear.

What resonated uncomfortably was that these were the two, and only two, threats that S was worried about when little B came down here for respite care. 'He can't stay through summer', she worried, 'not with snakes and ticks'. Well, sadly, yet happily, she worries no more. Her brother, lets say he's B's uncle, rang within minutes of me giving the tick the thumb nail squash. He lives in France, and had hurried out after it became clear to most, if neither patient nor physicians, that the end was rushing up to meet her. There were some arrangements to be checked, and then came the news that we need not worry about B (I wasn't, till the snake and the tick appeared at least), as Ma, an eccentric and unpredictable but kindly friend in the city, would happily be B's new mother, when everyone imagined she'd decline.

I had probably picked up the tick on my head when I was out with the camera. It is Wattle Day, and nominally the first day of Spring, as imprecise as that northern hemisphere label can be. And I'd found what I'd been looking for. She loved many things, but I could take her nothing nicer than flowers from home. And funnily, she loved Grevilleas, but not till she'd seen them some years ago in cultivation, in the rambling garden of a friend, a man in his prime very sick with that virus, to whom she had gone to visit, and comfort, in Queensland.

C (we went to Antarctica together) said, when I called to tell her, and we talked about the last few weeks, and she again spoke of her brother's final struggle, 'you know', she said, 'death is the one thing that takes a lifetime of getting ready for'. C can be alarmingly direct, and right.

These are some of the flowers.
(click to enlarge)

Acacia longifolia var. longifolia (Sydney Golden Wattle); Hovea longifolia; Eriostemon myoporoides (Native Daphne); Lambertia formosa (Native Honey Flower, Mountain Devil); Astartea Winter Pink; Grevillea longifolia; Eriostemon australasius (Pink Wax Flower); Grevillea Scarlet Sprite.

1 comment:

Smorg said...

Good thing you caught that tick before it got somewhere more tickishly uncomfortable (for you), mate! We are supposedly at the end of summer here (though in Southern California September is usually the warmest month)... No tick, but a lot of ants have appeared out of thin air and are getting into everything. :o( Almost wish my roommate has an anteater rather than a dog. ;o)

Nice shots of the flowers, too! Never seen most of those before. They look lovely.

Smorgy :o)