“Aren’t you cold?” they sometimes say. Others walk past talking loudly to their friends and family about how cold it is. Those people are worse, because concern is easier than derision. “No” is the best answer, and has the benefit of simplicity. The matter is settled. A sheepskin jacket, woollen jumper and hat, and cold gets dealt to.
Winter mornings are cold here, and wind adds to the chill. At least it wasn’t raining. Inside the warm local General Store, all the tables were taken. Who are all these people? It never used to be this busy. Perhaps it was unwise to check the post box, before nabbing a table. Grabbing a bottle of milk from the refrigerator, it was a quick walk to the counter where an order for a coffee was placed. Life being too short for take away coffee, but with no free tables inside, the philosophy of stoicism sent me outside to a table under the veranda. There I sat alone and surveyed the comings and goings.
There’s always someone in a hurry. They’ll park in the disabled parking right out front. It is kind of handy. The cars are kept idling for five minutes whilst an occupant heads indoors to obtain a couple of take away coffees. At least the inside of the car is toasty warm. The occasional whiff of exhaust fumes doesn’t work all that well with the excellent coffee, but again, stoicism.
At such times, thoughts come and go, like the winter winds. Why isn’t the coffee mug bigger? And how much fuel did the five-minute-idling car use? Probably more than most would imagine, but at least the occupants were warm. Comfort is a funny thing. It’s nice to be comfortable, shame about the exhaust.
The cold wind continued to gust along the road. The coffee continued to disappear. Thoughts continued. There’s been a lot of talk in the news about mould over the past two years. That’s what you get in a wet year. The cheeky scamps in the media have recently linked the subject of mould to cold weather and housing quality. What an innovation in journalism. Somehow they had previously ignored the low quality of housing. The articles contain the inevitable tales of woe: The house was only 18’C / 64’F, woe is us, and oh, don’t forget the mould, plus the heating bills are horrendous! Somehow the tale of woe negates other recent concerns in the media about climate change, energy depletion and pollution. It’s a confused perspective.
It is nice to be able to enjoy a coffee whilst going through the mail, even if it is cold and windy. An unusual item arrived in the mail.
In January, an order was placed for a spare baffle plate for the wood heater. Eight months later, the half inch thick steel baffle plate arrived in the mail. What interested me was that the steel plate was stamped with the insignia of an Australian steel mill. As the coffee continued to disappear from the mug, it was hard to wonder whether the wood heater manufacturer had been forced to use the more expensive locally made steel? After all, the reason they gave me on the phone for being unable to supply a basic spare part, was that their steel supply had been halved.
Sipping coffee provides an excellent opportunity to secretly observe the people around you. Other folks are equally alert. Sometimes they’re even failing to conceal their quizzical expressions. What may they be thinking? Hopefully, it’s not: “What are you doing here?” After all, a working age bloke loafing around enjoying a coffee during work hours, sometimes outside in the cold winter weather, does raise questions. The explanation is simple. The past three weeks have included no days off work, and it’s getting on to three years now since I’ve managed to have an entire week long break. Having a regular coffee is part of my mental health care plan. Simple.
What and how are they all here at their leisure though? That’s what I wonder. The other week some news item mentioned that 40,000 people had dropped out of the workforce. Down here, with a relatively small population, that sure is a lot of people. Maybe all those folks have decided to take advantage of the scarce local amenities in this mountain range? Dunno, but it makes a curious person wonder. And if they’re not working, how do they afford to loaf around? So many unanswered questions.
The wind was still there, the coffee was almost gone. My mother was a baby boomer, and from memory she retired at the age of 55. Died at 71. Fortunately being at the post office, an envelope was ready to hand. A bit of quick maths on the back of an envelope. Yeah, will have to keep working until 70. Oh well, the times have changed.
The coffee was done, and I took my leave.
The week has been one of contrasts. Some days were wet, others, the sun shone. It is possible that one day, both events occurred. Friday was warm and sunny. There were things that needed doing. Earlier in the week, a sheet of thin polycarbonate had turned up in the mail. There are a few lamp posts installed around the garden, and one of them had two smashed glass panes. The broken glass was removed, and the polycarbonate sheet was cut to size as replacement panes.
Nights can be very dark here. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way. It’s nice. The garden lights however help you avoid falling down the hill, or into a garden bed when it’s pitch black. They work. The design of the lamp posts is a bit stupid given that they’re intended to be installed outdoors. Rain water collects below the light globe. We discovered this unusual design feature when one of the globes shorted out recently. We added a few drainage holes, and that seems to have fixed the problem.
Another seven fruit trees were moved to a sunnier location on the property. Where they were growing, there was too much shade from the surrounding tall forest. Hopefully, the fruit trees appreciate their new sunnier location.
The continual wet weather has been great for relocating trees. The rain provides more water for the trees than I can ever provide, so that they can easily settle in to their new spots. Wet years are the years to move or plant fruit trees.
The coffee grounds continue to be collected. Over the past couple of years I’ve begun adding a bag of Agricultural Lime (Calcium Carbonate) to the coffee grounds, and the results speak for themselves. The fruit trees have begun to grow far more rapidly than previously. It’s a heady mixture, and I’m supplied with a large wheelbarrow worth of the stuff each week.
Spring is fast approaching. The other night I spotted one of the first Southern Brown Tree Frogs of the season. Of course, it was raining that evening.
The earliest of the fruit trees has begun to produce some blossoms. Almonds are the earliest flowering trees here. Fortunately on warm-ish late winter days, the bees are flying around, and so fingers crossed, the almonds get pollinated and don’t succumb to frost. Varroa mite seems to have gotten something of a foothold in the state to the north of this one. With that in mind, over the past few weeks I’ve been observing what sort of insects are out and about during late winter, and there are a few.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 8’C (46’F). So far this year there has been 668.4mm (26.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 633.2mm (24.9 inches)