Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Smell of Pink

Six p.m., I was showered and drinking coffee by 9 a.m. yet somehow the nectarines took my whole day. Even as I sit here gazing out to the yard another nectarine has just fallen, bouncing along the lawn. Hours and hours of boiling them, skinning them, slicing to preserve them and still I see a dozen or more on the ground and if I was to turn my head I'd see that many again on the counter. The birds eat their share, sadly though they tend to peck from many, leaving most of the nectarine behind to rot. If I could get them to concentrate on the bruised ones on the ground we would all be better off. I line those bruised ones up, over night, near the bird bath but they don't seem to take the hint.
The smell of nectarines has permeated the house in a good way.
I am not sure that my day was not wasted, I definitely spent my hours in the realm of having no idea what the end product was. Laughably, I was startled half-way through when I tasted my nectarines to find that they tasted like, well like canned peaches, well sort of fresher and also I had infused the syrup with basil. My point being that I was just following the recipe and not realizing that canning the nectarine would indeed be like store bought canned fruit. I love fresh fruit, nectarines are a favorite and I have never seen the point of doing anything with a nectarine other than eat them, one after another. I have only come around to this idea of preserving them because I am physically unable to eat them all before they go bad.
The water I boiled the nectarines in to get the skins off, turned a beautiful, clear pink and smelled almost as good as the tree. I don't know how this first attempt went, as I only got three jars worth and I think the fruit may have been cut too fine, but I was trying to use up fruit that had to have bits cut away, because I can't bear to see any worth eating going into the compost.
I am trying to find a hand cranked ice-cream maker so I can make nectarine sorbet and nectarine ice-cream. If anyone has ideas for the nectarines there are many left on the tree to deal with as the week goes on. I think I'll go out and just grab the new ones that have fallen...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A life without seasons

I love rain, I love the sound of the rain, here that sound is amplifeid as our roof is made of metal. Occasionally, there is a spectacular storm, with lightning brightening the sky for moments at a time, throwing the whole neighborhood into view by backlighting the horizon in a bright, purple, flash.
Many of the storms happen overnight, and selfishly I yearn for more rainy days. I never feel guilt spending a whole day reading if that day is a rainy one.
Yesterday, we had rain most of the day, but most of my day was wasted at the Dentist's. This rain is unseasonable even for here.
I may never get used to the seasons of the Southern Hemisphere. Internally I feel as if either winter or summer could be on the way. I am lost without the markers I am used to relying on, such as leaves turning or shop windows done up for a holiday. I have to look at the calendar constantly to remember what the month is. I have noticed that the days are getting shorter and the milky way is in a different position. The days are not very warm but the nights have been and I have spent some part of each night, in the yard looking into the sky for satellites.
Zok has already gotten in our winter supply of wood. Many houses here are heated by wood burning fireplaces of some sort. Ours is enclosed by glass, so that the whole box can be stuffed full of wood and set to burn for hours and hours. Which is just as well because I am not very good at making fires.
The wood delivery reminds me that winter is approaching, as do the storms yet I feel an internal resistance. A resistance because I will have to make a special trip to see non-native trees with their leaves that turn colors and fall. Because Tasmania had a short summer this year and my tomatoes are only now starting to ripen as are the strawberries. Because I know that March is coming and Easter in my mind a synonym for spring only here spring is autumn. Tulips are blooming in time for Christmas not Easter.
Our short summer also meant that the lawn stayed green, we had no water restrictions, and I never got into the full swing of a beach routine. All that combines to making me feel even less attuned to what time of year I am in. This may be a contribution to my paying more attention to the night sky. I see the constellations move in a predictable way that my surrounding by day; lack. I will also be confused when the pick up in emails, when my friends are blooming amidst their summertime, they become more lively and communicative while I am surrounded by darkness and feeling like the matchstick girl as I hunt for pine cones to light my daily fire. I miss people being around and I am counting the days until Zok returns.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

After Monte & Roberto left one of the tasks that Zok and I started was apricot harvest. The tree only produces apricots every two years, but I am sure we have enough jam, preserves,dried, stewed and then frozen to last until the tree fruits again.
Our neighbor says that 'every neighborhood should only have one apricot tree' and she is correct. I let the birds take what they want, because truly there is enough to go around.
I usually have sort of a vague stomach ache for weeks due to my apricot consumption. I can't stop myself. Zok made tarts, and I made an apricot nectar, side car. Can you smell the desperation? Feel free to contribute recipes.
Now I have to start picking the nectarines...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Steps to the Top

I am sitting here trying to sort out how long I have lived in Tasmania. I remember four Christmases. I am probably off by a at least a year-longer.
Many, many times have I taken the Channel Highway, which is a winding, two lane road, which I understand to be once the only way from the city to where we live before the Southern Outlet was built. We consider Channel Highway to be the scenic route. On this road there is a tall, stone tower. The 'Shot Tower'. I always have wanted to climb up to the top but even in my slow paced life I found excuses not to pull over. We made Monte & Roberto our excuse to stop by. I forgot that Roberto is not fond of heights, I forgot Roberto completely when I looked up because the entire tower is filled with the worst spiderwebs I have seen outside of a fake Haunted House at Halloween. We were told there was a 'possible prize' if the steps were counted correctly, Roberto who many times was my ally in many a phobic/tired/hungry moment, stopped counting early due to the height of the tower, I never really started as I could only focus narrowly to avoid spider induced panic.
I felt pretty proud when I got out of there.
Zok (of course) was the one to get the count correct, because my husband, well he is 'that' guy. Monte wrote about what the Tower was for on Flickr, there was a short film, but I ignored that while all the while going on about the webs.
I believe the information was something like 1870, blah blah, 3 guys built the whole place on their own in just a few months, blah, lead (or some metal) drops, drops, drops, while cooling lands and then hurrah creates a shot i.e. early bullet. Hmmm. Anyway the view was nice.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Open Container

Australia has low speed limits, and a .05% drink driving level-they do many random breathalizer tests, and if you get caught driving over the limit, you lose your license straight out and have to start over with provisional plates on your car. That said, passengers are free to party in the car! We stopped in some nice towns, although town is truly the word, Hobart now looks very cosmopolitan to me in comparison. Compared to America, Australia has an amazing amount of public toilets. Here, I suppose it is necessary due to the lack of 'services' we don't have Mcdonalds every exit, in fact we don't really have exits, the road just runs through each town. As the drinking passenger, I appreciated the convenient bathrooms.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"O perpetual revolution of configured stars,"

The famous Cradle Mountain Crag

I took the above photo as they were going up yet another very steep stretch, which I sat out...this photo of course was for the authorities in case they went missing...

I loved our Cabin, next will be a posting just for it.

The nice, even walk of most of the Cradle Mountain walks.

Zok is at his flying lesson, he left without waking me, I woke up around 9 a.m. which is later than I have in weeks. This is my first reflective moment, even my blog entries have been squashed between two other matters needing attention. Tasmania is still having weather in the low sixties, unseasonable cold while the mainland suffers extreme weather.
Over the last eight months I have gone so many places. Truly, the pace has been pretty fast. I wonder if this will make the quiet and the darkness of winter a shock. I have signed up for my sewing class and a yoga course that will go from March until May. So as the days get shorter, and Zok is away, I will have interaction with the outside world, and crafts to focus on.
Cradle Mountain is up north, part of yet another large national park. They get snow, and the region is considered alpine. People travel from all over the world to walk the overland track, a 4 - 5 days walk. We were on the overland track to Marions Lookout, which I hear is one of the hardest bits, as the that bit of the trail is very steep with a lot of rocks. Most of the track is that same sort of boards that are seen in my post about South Cape.
A large part of our small state is park land, much of that is on the UNESCO list. These facts attracted Zok and I, and with all the development going on in Kingston the suburb right to our right, I was relieved to see so much open area while we drove through the state.
I have a crush on the button grass. The wombats burrow around them-the huge clump of grass usually has this one long round, flower poof. Very Dr. Suess.
The button grass photo here is courtesy of the mad skills, of Roberto aka 'The Tracker'.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

South Cape or dare I say Mordor

Zok and I have only just started watching the first season of 'Lost' but as the four of us walked single file, mile after mile, through this landscape, I kept expecting a rustling sound to start racing towards us. Actually I can't think of any Australian animals that race, trundle perhaps, and bounce; absolutely, but still I couldn't shake the feeling. As the miles continued on and on, we'd meet other people coming from our destination (a sort of vague destination that Monty kept referring to as "The Southern Most Point" before Antartica).
These people were actually full of tidbits such as 'bloody lot of march flies on the beach', or 'just another seventy minutes or so until you get there'. As I stated this whole 'there' thing was vague but I did know that when we arrived to the elusive there, lunch would be happening and as I was dearly regreting my lack of breakfast I firmly held lunch as my goal.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hazards Beach

I have only just noticed that I have put up the same photos twice here and there. Zok and I are very caught up in using all the apricots from our tree. This ongoing event to the left and right of my computer has been dividing my attention. I love Monte's photos and I spent a lot of time watching him take photos, so that I could glean some tips. The consequence is that I didn't take many myself. Here are a few more from the Freycinet Park, we didn't swim at Wineglass Bay, we waited until we were on the other side of the penisula, a spot called Hazards Beach. Both beaches have a lot of quartz in the sand, making the white sand sparkle. Monte explored more than we did, and saw much more-Zok kept reiterating that we'd be coming back. A promise I plan to hold him too. There were stingrays in the water here, but I didn't see them close up, they may have been a smaller variety called skates. Monte saw fairy penguins up the beach as well. I was the first in the water, even though I forgot my bathing suit (can you believe it) and I had to swim in a tank top and underwear. Classy!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Australians get excited about seeing squirrels

Wombat Walking


Beach Wallaby

Common Brushtail Possom

Spikey echidna butt

Cole's Bay Tasmania

Cole's Bay to me, seems to be the place Tasmanian residents go for vacation. I hear a lot of people talk about camping or having some sort of bush shack going towards or nearby Cole's Bay which is on the East Coast of the island. Cole's Bay is also next to Freycinet National Park where Wineglass Bay is located. Cole's Bay was our first destination. Zok and I had been only once before and that time we didn't take the trouble to hike down to the beach or along the Hazards mountains. I am much, much sportier than I used to be. I was the only member of our group not to get sunburnt, and I was feeling pretty smug about that until I noticed that my lips were a bit burnt, or chapped badly. I also got bit by a 'jack jumper' which is some sort of large, biting ant. I now call this insect "jerk jumper". The bite is no longer painful, or itchy, but ten days later the bite is still visible. Monte & Roberto saw so many animals that I will have to post animal photos on their own. We saw wallabies the first night near my house, a seal at Fossil Cove, so many wallabies, and wombats in Cradle Mountain we almost didn't stop anymore to stare at them, echidnas very close up, dolphins near the shore by South Cape, possums on our porch, currawongs tapping on the window, pademelons, and even a Tasmanian devil, whose sightings are getting rarer due to the disease no one has been able to halt. Of course I feel even more aware of how good my life is as I continue to read about the fires and deaths due to fire on the mainland. We have cool weather and even some rain here.
I am deeply grateful for all I have.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back to the beginning

Monte & Roberto are now in Sydney. I was sad to see them go. I was so happy that we got to see as much as we did. I don't know when I would have gotten Zok to go to Cole's Bay or Cradle Mountain, but I think now I can get him to go back. I am going to start now at the beginning of their arrival. The first day was really the only slow day that we had. I took them the long way to Fossil Cove and we had a simple lunch before getting ready to go and pick up Zok from the airport. The very next morning we left early for Cole's Bay.
The first day was Roberto's birthday, well his Southern Hemisphere birthday. I got an always delicious cake from Heidi. Cake pieces went everywhere we did, and there was a day of mourning, when we had finally eaten all of the cake.
Monte & Roberto have the exact figures, which I assume will end up on Monte's blog but I think we did a lot of bush walking, and we saw so many critters, but I am getting ahead of my story...