Saturday, January 7, 2012


No sooner had the lawns been mown, and I was sitting on the verandah in admiration (it has been a good summer for lawns) than they were back, those tense little bundles of energy, 'Robin Yellow Breasts' - the Eastern Yellow Robin. Maybe it was cutting the grass, or perhaps they knew the weather was building up and carpe diem etc, but after a noticeable absence, there they were perched as usual just high enough to be safe and still within easy dart-down-grab-grub-and-get-back-quickly distance.

A few metres is their range, and they favour the verandah posts or the low branches of the eco (tall and spreading enough to give summer shade yet let the underslung low winter sun through) eucalypt strategically placed in the north-east angle of the house. Cute and fluffy they maybe from a distance, but a closer look betrays a serious sharp eye on the business of survival.

The weather did build up. While in that first moment of awareness next morning it seemed I'd beaten the sun, the darkness was a sky heavy with storm clouds. By the time I was back in bed with a cup of tea and Julian Barnes (I can't wait to finish it but don't want it to stop and every word is to dwell upon) it was raining. Millie had no book, no tea, and was off as usual to inspect the remains of the night, with that moist black nose and its sensory depth of field telling her who and what had been, where, even when, and should she be lucky, might be slow still escaping the dawn.

Julian Barnes: his latest contribution to Intelligent Life is "Where Sibelius Fell Silent".

"There are two famous silences in the history of classical music: those of Rossini and Sibelius. Rossini's lasted nearly 40 years, was a worldly, cosmopolitan silence, much of it spent in Paris, during which time he co-invented tournedos Rossini. Sibelius's, which lasted nearly 30 years, was more austere, self-punishing and site-specific; and whereas Rossini finally yielded again to music, writing the late works he referred to as "the sins of my old age", Sibelius was implcacble. He fell silent, and remained silent."

If you haven't yet, make the pilgrimage. Stare into that fireplace, as Julian Barnes:

Between storms we've had our walk now, and the weather is lifting a little. The humidity is up and there's primal tongues of mist rising from the gully. You can see that rough barked grey gum where the robins wait near the house.

1 comment:

Susan Scheid said...

Oh, another lovely post--starting with the robin yellow breast keeping a keen look-out from the tree, then ranging to Julian Barnes's new book, which I must snap up next time I'm in range of a bookstore, then on to a Barnes piece about Sibelius, not to mention a piece of your own about visiting Ainola (which I've longed to visit ever since reading David Nice's series on his own visit there). How's that for a good run-on sentence? Thank you for all.