Other people’s words about … winter light

The sun was like a moon in this country, and in its light I felt as if I was looking at everything through a pearl. It was cold and the trees had no leaves. I had never seen a leafless tree before.

from ‘Sleeping on Jupiter
by Anuradha Roy

I love this description by Anuradha Roy of a Northern Hemisphere winter, as seen through the eyes of a young Indian woman accustomed to living in the tropics. I remember feeling the same way myself when I left Australia in my twenties to travel through Britain, Europe and North America (and, later, elsewhere). For a year I lived and worked in Germany, as I’ve mentioned once before, in a small industrial town in Nordrhein-Westfalen, not far from Dortmund and Dusseldorf. To begin with, from November through to April, before my German was fluent enough for me to find another job, I worked in a factory.

Leafless tree on Gedville Street,
between the coast and the railway station

During those winter months in Germany, I rose each day just before six o’clock and walked through the dark streets of town to the station, where I caught a train and then a bus to the factory district. My shift started at around seven-thirty, but daylight didn’t filter through the glass panels of the workshop ceiling until well after nine-thirty. I left work at four o’clock — first back on the bus and then onto the train; then back on foot through the streets towards the fourth-floor apartment I shared with a German friend. By the time I reached the door that led from the street of our apartment building into the stairwell, the sky had darkened again.

I thought, as I shuttled from home to railway station to bus to factory and then back in reverse, that I might never see broad daylight again.

Dove in leafless tree

The trees that lined the street on which I lived during those months were European trees, native to the area, and so they were deciduous. Their leafless, bare branches formed stark silhouettes against the grey apartment buildings and the grey, clouded sky. It didn’t snow, but even in the few hours of daylight we were granted, the sun stayed hidden, a faded white ball in that streak of grey sky. Everything seemed cold and grey. I, too, felt cold and grey.

Leafless tree leaning into a house near Largs Bay School

Though Australia does have a few native deciduous trees, most native vegetation is evergreen. And so, even though the winters here in South Australia can at times feel very grey, most leafless trees — like the ones I photographed to accompany today’s post, all of which grow in the neighbourhood where I live — are imports from countries like Germany: cousins of those trees that lined the streets of the town where I worked all those years ago.

Leafless tree on the school oval
on Gedville Street

I’m a home-body these days. I love the Australian sun. I love the wide arch of sky and the shifting, glittering, restless ocean. I love the grey-green leaves of eucalypts, the drooping pods of acacia trees, the red bristles of bottlebrush flowers, the golden needles of the sheoaks. I couldn’t live anywhere else now. This is home to me.

Travelling brought me a lot of joy, though, and it taught me things I could never have learned if I’d stayed at home. My love for this place is a part of what my travels taught me, I think. Those bare-branched trees were a gift. They led me back home.

Even leafless trees don’t seem leafless here
when you look at them closely!

Running and baking

Other people’s words about … running

I’ve been reading Y Lee’s lemonpi blog on and off for years. She is Australian and she loves to bake. What more can I say?

I was tickled by her recent post entitled When exercise ruins your waistline, in which she says how much she loves running, and then adds:

Running gives me time to think. Unfortunately, most of my ‘thinking’ tends to veer sharply towards the solemn contemplation of potential baked goods (thereby negating all the good work that running accomplishes). Which is incidentally how I came about to make a big batch of shortcrust pastry.

Inspired by this thinking, I went for a big long walk on the beach (my current version of running), and conjured up visions of what I might bake next … Not good for the waistline, assuredly, but very good for the spirit!


In the garden in our house just north of the city,
the bushes we planted when we first moved here eight years ago
have sprouted and grown and spread.
It’s a messy, weedy, often untended garden.
But it’s true to our dream:
a garden of plants almost exclusively native to our area.

As spring slowly approaches, it fills me with delight.

Waxing lyrical about the River Torrens

More home notes*

Adelaide isn’t (quite) a coastal city.
Its centre is about fifteen kilometres away from the beach.
It was built on the banks of the River Torrens,
a river now not known for its cleanliness or beauty.


But any child who grew up in Adelaide has fond memories
of taking a trip on the Popeye,
and of feeding crusts of bread to the ducks,
and of going paddling with their parents on the paddleboats.


And on a dull grey autumn day, it seems to me —
all local sniggers and cringing aside —
that the river has its moments of beauty.


You think?

Every now and then, I like to post about the wonder of looking at my own home-town through a stranger’s eyes. Exploring home can be as exotic and joyful an experience as travelling abroad … if you let it.

Roaming the world

Attending an appointment on the north side of the city recently,
I had some time to spare and went for a wander.
I turned off the main road into a courtyard …


… and felt like I’d wandered into a city in some far-distant, foreign land.


Narnia, perhaps.
(The lamp-post was there, but not the snow.)


Or Paris?


London, maybe.


So what is the definition of ‘roam’, anyway?


It means to ramble.


I like the thought of rambling through my own home-town —


— of exploring and finding new places.


Of being at home in my own, exotic world.

Christmas gratitude and celebrations

Merry Christmas to my readers!

My family (mother, father, sister) are home this Christmas.

There’s no better present.

Although …

A pot of tea’s always good, too. 🙂

I am a fan of the blog Tea & Cookies. After a long absence from the blogosphere, Tara has returned. Reading her post ‘Grateful’ over and over will be another way that I’ll be celebrating Christmas this year.