It has been a while! As Mum reminded me on the phone recently. It feels just a little like a scolding but one understands that not much has happened; or has it? The sedate cosy green of spring has been baked off, culminating in a top of 37 degrees on the day that a pasty, sweaty-faced David Cameron came to town. Haha. I am not sure if this is just some false summer heat build up that then disappears and transitions to cool dreariness, or yet another sign that we are set to break numerous temperature records, burn to cinders and face encroaching desert sand for our gormless self-serving leaders to bury their heads in.
Meanwhile, in other news, it is a pleasure to write about things that come from my head without having to back them up with a reference (Stafford, 2014). Hay has been in the making while the sun has been shining and escapades too far out of Canberra have been put on hold. My yearning for a trip is gathering like the heat, building until it suddenly relents with one welcome bounty of thunder and lightning. I think both will come very soon.
Red Hill has been poetically inspirational, offering as it does an escape to the country within five minutes. At certain points the suburbs disappear, the ugly tall building in Woden hides behind a tree, and a background composition of the Brindabella Hills frames the golden waves of grass littered with rosellas and galahs and the head of a kangaroo poking above like a marsupial periscope. Here, the green of October is now a yellow brown of November, and the westerly sun of an evening is warmly alluring with undertones of menace.
Elsewhere, my urgings for a road trip take on gentler forms, with small forays out into the fringes of Canberra. One Sunday evening took me out and up to Mount Stromlo; the observatory here a brilliant white egg shell, sitting under the kind of blue sky that extends forever past the moon and into deep space. More down to earth, the landscape of the Murrumbidgee corridor has a touch of African savannah to it, as rolling flaxen grasslands and clusters of trees congregate between looming hills and ridges.
And a trip to space and Africa would not be complete without a sunset beside a big, tepid lake, teeming with beasties and smells and otherworldly things that probably shouldn’t belong to this earth and which you would rather didn’t chew on your legs.
Further outings have been on two wheels, four wheels or four wheels plus two wheels with the added option of two legs for little side trips. Inspired by getting in the saddle in the Lake District and approaching that period when you become middle-aged and suddenly decide that you look good in Lycra, I made the decision to purchase a half decent bike. A bike certainly better than my previous bike, because the lumps and bumps of this town seem a lot easier to navigate, albeit at times still requiring a begrudging grimace. I did not buy any Lycra with the bike and am so far resisting, for middle-age can wait just a while yet please.
The bike offers a different means to pop out a get a coffee, to buy some provisions from the supermarket, to become engrossed in maps and altitude profiles and speed statistics. It is a tool that has empowered a re-appreciation of Lake Burley Griffin, with its blessed 28 kilometre cycle path and assortment of inlets and monuments and riverside meadows. It is a magnet for magpies, but they have calmed down somewhat now.
It has taken me around Tidbinbilla, which is a 17 kilometre ribbon of despair and then delight. The despair coming from a succession of what would seem gentle jaunts uphill in a car but feel like the Pyrenees to my pair of knees; the delight the remainder of the loop, through beautiful bushland rarely disturbed by cars. Just the birds, roos and views for companionship before plunging downhill in a mixture of exhilaration and dread. And still no Lycra.
This very morning it was a bike that made it to the top of what I consider my first genuine hill climb. I was wheezing (Lance, hand me some EPO in a coke can, quick!!) but the bike was just fine ambling in the lowest possible gear. Up to the top of Dairy Farmers Hill in the National Arboretum. I climbed it and, after recovering one hour later, could see what I had never seen before: the appeal of going up a hill in a bike. But still no Lycra.
Tracking my rides and speeds and climbs and – supposed – calories burnt, the bike has undoubtedly become a cake and / or ice cream enabler. So, even if you can’t appreciate cycling or would never consider climbing a little hill on two wheels, appreciate it for that. Any positive savings I may have made are generously counteracted with a treat. Sometimes handmade, others times bought.
So, you see, not a lot has happened over the last month really. Just pictures of trees and kangaroos and sunsets and – why of course – cake to blog about again. And all that is just perfectly fine thank you.