The sun has set, casting the roof and tree lines into shadow. There is a saying about red skies at night being a shepherd’s or sailor’s delight. This is because of a high pressure system coming in from the west bringing fair weather. On cold winter days, this heralds a day of mild freshness and midday warmth and sunshine which can be all too lacking after the recent winter solstice.
Look at this picture another way. Pretend you are on a mountain, the dark outlines are the foreground and the clouds are the extensive flat lands below. The light and shadow of the flat lands and hillocks combined are provided from a low afternoon sun, filtered red. There are invariably many ways to look at the world and interpret what we see. I have shared only two; one from above looking down on a wide and gentle valley, and the other from below looking up at the prelude of a sunny day to come. Try a different focal range or a mountain-top perspective and see how this can change what is to come.
Only a little while ago the trees in the street were inundated with a raucous posse of cockatoos looking for tasty morsels. Their stunning white colour contrasted with the striking clear blue autumnal sky. They shredded the bobble seed pods and leaves from the tree branches. The result was a snow storm of fluffy green fibers that found their way into every nook and cranny. But by far, the cockatoos greatest effort was the deafening chatter for hours while they feasted.
A few short weeks later, the tree branches are bare. The coloured leaves have faded to brown and fallen, and winter is upon us. The sky is a foreboding grey and silent. The birds have flown away talking their conversations with them. So think of friends, friends that you have feasted with, friends that you have chattered to for hours. Call your old mates and organise to catch up. It will warm your heart with retold stories of younger and sillier times, and hopefully result in raucous laughter of shared memories. There is no better way to pass the time than to feast with friends.
I found myself in the country this week with a clear view of the horizon one evening. A friend mentioned to me that he had missed the sunsets when he lived in town. He has a point. Getting away from the metropolitan lights and the pace of city life allows for the leisurely appreciation of a simple sunset. The glorious slowness of the evolving colours with barely a sound to denote the passage of time is pure indulgence. The suspension of the real world for this feast for the soul provides perspective and calm for any situation. It is well worth the effort of planning a trip. Easter is around the corner and with a few days of downtime try to pencil in a sunset or two. You’ll be richer for the experience.
Family gatherings are usually a delightful affair, abounding with a motley mix of people with unique stories to tell. Bigger families have singles and couples; different generations with their own views and perspectives; people with kids, no kids, even grown up kids, and then there are those that never grew up themselves. At such functions, there are the usually conversations catching up on the comings and goings, but invariably at some point the discussion is relegated to stories of old.
This is the gold and the heartwarming nature of a family and its history. Sometimes the stories are humorous, others to poke fun or simply to recall good times. Sometimes there are two or more interpretations of a story, depending on who was there. The stories grow with every retelling, becoming the folklore and distinctive bedrock that defines this unique circle of people. Cherish the stories and the community it holds together. Family is precious and so are its memories. Celebrate and remember.
My university days are not over yet and I do enjoy the diversity of ages, peoples and minds. Listening to a group of writing friends, one declared the birth of a new word. The English language is a glorious beast with words for all occasions, double (sometimes triple) meanings and innuendo. Some words are self-evident; others take a bit of understanding to get the hang of. The beauty of a shared language is that you can use building blocks to convey your meaning or message. This new word is required in the advent of opening a packet of bickies in front of the TV and mistakenly devouring the contents without noticing. Other similar examples could involve big bags of chips or pizza, while in deep discussion on a vital topic. We’ve all done it and now there is a word to encapsulate it. A word to explain the foibles of mere mortals when eating and distracted by matters of great import. We can now claim to have fallen prey to a snackcident. Very aptly penned and appropriate. So I humbly cast into service (on behalf of a colleague) this newly birthed word of the English language.
Snackcident (noun): to be used to justify when the last Tim Tam has disappeared, or the last piece of chocolate has been devoured. You have fallen prey to a snackcident!
What a racket! The clamorous chirpings of a tree full of parrots. Is there a collective noun for a bunch of parrots sitting in a tree?
The tree, laden with feathered friends, is like a high-definition speaker serenading the sunset colours of the sky. The noise peaks and hits fever pitch, surely no one parrot is even listening to another. It is simply a loudest-screech contest in full bloom. The crescendo drops a notch as a dimmer switch is taken to the sky. The noise holds pace with the fading colours until there are mere whispers at dusk. The community of birds is hunkering down for the evening, reduced to minor pipsqueaks as they finally settle into their assigned perches.
The uproar was a fitting tribute to the glorious display of sunset colours. It draws the attention from what you were doing, when you surely would have missed the wonder of this spectacle. So next time nature is loud and demands your attention, see what it wants to show you. Don’t ever miss out on anything.
New experiences are fun to behold. I visited the local library where I was fortunate enough to hear a speaker who was passionate about the English language. Not just English, but Australian English. Our own unique brand of communicating. Her name was Susan Butler and she is the Editor of the Australian National Macquarie Dictionary. I own a copy of the 2011 Signature Edition of this tome which is bigger than an old-style phone book.
Australian is its own brand of language. Who else would use budgie-smugglers or strewth in a sentence. There is a lot that is unique about us quirky Aussies, but dictionaries these days also have to keep up with new words in our language. New words come from new situations, new trends, new technologies and new avenues of our life. Some words come and go, whilst others are adopted and stay for life as part of our new vernacular.
The Macquarie Dictionary awards a new word of the year in several different categories. An honourable mention goes to “lumbersexual” which is a hybrid of lumberjack and metrosexual, meaning a rugged outdoors urban male generally with a beard. My favourite new addition in the sports section is “slackpacking” which is an easier version of backpacking, but in an oh-so-very relaxed way. This version of hiking will see all the heavy stuff transported to your night’s destination while you enjoy a wander with only a daypack.
So check out what’s new in the world of words or just keep tabs on the Aussie word of the week and support our unique language. This week it’s a “bad trot” from the 1940’s, meaning a run of bad luck.
A favorite day-trip destination is Marysville, with a lovely drive through the Yarra Valley and up and over the mountain range past the Black Spur. Marysville suffered from the Black Saturday fires, but I can report that there is minimal evidence of that catastrophe remaining in this lovely idyllic town. An easy stroll about town will tempt you with many treasures: some for the garden, some for the home, and many locally-made treasures for your tummy.
The Steavenson Falls are a spectacular 84m drop in several stages with an easy walk from the car park or an extended wander from town (3.4km return). The recent rains have seen the falls exceed themselves in sight and sound, with a thundering rush of water. The arctic chill that touches your face as you approach the falls feels like it has come directly from the snow-melt. It is enlivening and refreshing all at once. The pure energy of the falls speaks of natures’ unbridled force and inspires appreciation. Drinking in the crisp earthy smell of the falls completes the sensory awakening with many people stopping to reflect on this wonderful scene. Taking the time to ground yourself in nature is always worth it.
I took myself off to the movies recently with a friend. Sam Neill has been an old favorite of mine, all the way back to Reilly Ace of Spies (Yes – apparently I’m that old). He has been a constant source of entertainment over the years in whatever he does, but the “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” has to be my favorite. It’s a brilliant contrast of a modern youth against a long-in-the-tooth curmudgeon. Julian Dennison, aka Ricky Baker, does a great job at antagonizing Sam Neill’s character, Uncle Hec, throughout the movie, delivering comedy at just the right pace and moments. It’s one of the few movies that I’ve seen that has a 100% endorsement from Rotten Tomatoes.
One of the most visually rich scenes is when Uncle Hec refers to a spectacular view of the wilderness as majestical. Ricky doesn’t think that “majestical” is a real word when “majestic” would suffice, but I’m with Uncle Hec on this one. Why use a short word when a longer one can give more chutzpah. Making up words is fun and can only enrich our conversations. So next time you see something special, try to make the description worthy (in syllables) of what you are seeing, otherwise feel free to adopt “majestical”.
I was out and about last night, so apologies for the delay in bringing this morsel to the page. My sojourn took me to the Arts Centre for a night of wine and entertainment. What I didn’t expect to see was an oldtime honky-tonk piano, let alone the open invitation to “Play me, I’m Yours”.
This instrument sits just inside the foyer of the Arts Centre and is available to anyone with an inclination to play. I could have walked right by without noticing the invitation except for the fact that it was being played [and well]. Honytonk tunes were pouring forth and attracted several souls in appreciation of the melody. The young person producing the magic was having the time of his life pounding out an old favorite. This serendipitous moment was very unexpected, so keep your eyes open for those unusual offers and join in where you can. Some offers are too good to refuse.