Tomorrow – the first day of June – is the official start of winter in Tasmania. I like the way the seasons are marked so precisely into three month chunks here.
Autumn has been glorious. The sunsets over the last few weeks have taken our breath away, and the daylight hours have had a real crispness to them. Most of the rain has come at night. On the few overcast days we’ve had, the river has looked all the lovelier, infused with a glittering silver light. The mist here, when it swirls like magic down the Derwent, is called Bridgewater Jerry. It creeps through the pillars of the Tasman Bridge, stealing it from sight for an hour or two, but it’s nothing like Edinburgh where the haar descends for days and chills you right down to the marrow.
We have been rather sad saying goodbye to the bounty of summer foods in the shops. The raspberry and strawberry seasons have come to an end. There are just a few lonely boxes left on the shelves now, and DorkySon – the world’s biggest fruit bat – has said not to bother with them; they don’t taste good. Filling his lunch box with colour and flavour will be more of a challenge over the coming months. But the apples are perfect, and today for the first time I spotted some sweet, bright little clementines.
On the coldest of nights we light our wood stove. Laying a fire is not something I’d done for a good number of years, but it only took a couple of slow burners before I remembered how to build one up properly. Now I can make it roar with just one match. I love the dusky, smoky smell on my fingers, the generous heat that burrows down deep.
We’ve been tightening the house up too, trying to keep that heat inside. There’s a new front door, Tassie oak, with tight weather seals now instead of an inch-high gap underneath. Double glazing, which meant scaffolding and workers for a couple of weeks, but they were polite and tidy, and we are thrilled with the results. They were craftsmen, actually, took such pride in their work. The next job is some shelving, for those poor books of ours that are still jammed together in boxes.
Apparently, not so many years ago, the island used to close down for winter. Everyone retreated to their house and tucked in for three months. Businesses struggled without the extravagant shopping opportunity that Christmas provides in the depths of the British winter. But now – because of some enlightened soul – the dark months here are filled with the warmth and noise of festivals. There are joyous public celebrations of food, wine, music, and art everywhere you look.
DorkyDad and I went to the Savour Long Table dinner last weekend. It was a treat to get out for an evening, but the whole thing was a bit too starched white tablecloth and sparkly pants for us. Next month, on the night of the winter solstice, we are headed to the Dark Mofo Winter Feast, described as a Bacchanalian banquet of feasting and fire, drinking and celebration, music and performance. That sounds much more like our kind of party. There will be stalls selling whisky, and Willie Smith’s Cider. There will be seafood from the Get Shucked Oyster Farm. There will be chocolate and cheese, pies and dumplings, spicy soups and tasty tacos, all eaten in in a wintry forest setting. They put candles in the trees here.
When you live in a place that celebrates the shortest day of the year with a specially commissioned Ferris Wheel of Death, and the thought of that makes you laugh so hard you snort wine out your nose, you know it’s a good fit.
Thanks for having us, lovely Tassie. Thanks for a great Autumn. We can’t wait for Winter.
O i love this global community on wordpress, here we are embarking on summer and you are jumping ahead to winter :)Great post I loved how you created such a good imagery in mind about Tasmania!
You forgot to mention the Winter Solstice Swim, but that’s only for the very brave (or foolish)!
You make me sigh with pleasure with your writing about your lives there x
Really nice to hear about your plans! We’re just getting ready for our summer here, we are glad to see winter behind us!!!!!
Thank you so much for this wonderful post, it describes so well all my feelings about Tasmania, its weather and special atmosphere! I feared the arrival of autumn but I’ve been so happy to discover how beautiful and charming it was down here!
I love autumn here in Tassie. It’s the best time of year for going for long walks, beautiful light and cool, clear air. The weather is usually settled – apart from the occasional rainy day. Winter is much the same! Spring can be unpredictable, though, that’s when most of the storms happen
It is funny to think that we re both heading into our “indoor” seasons even though we are in summer and you winter! Hunkering down is a good thing, giving us time for reading, writing ,and reflection. I do envy your wood stove warmth – that feeling of warmth is just so special. – David
The more I read the more I want to come to Tasmania! Seeing as I can chat to you pretty much whenever over social media I still struggle with the concept of different times of day, let alone different times of year over there. Do love the sound of all these festivals though – what a great way to get through the winter. I’ve heard of people in Scandanavia doing similar for their dark months.
How wonderful that someone has given winter a rethink with all the festivals. I agree, the one with the whisky and without the starched white tablecloth sounds more fun.
The ferris well of death? Love it! Loving the sound of your upcoming banquet too. It’s making me feel nostalgic for Winter…..though inevitably when it arrives I will moan about being damp and chilly! A winter without Christmas to light it up with colour does seem a peculiar thing, so glad they have found some other ways to add a bit of light!
It’s so funny to think of you heading into Winter as we start Summer. I prefer Winter in lots of ways but I’m not sure many people would agree with me. x
The Ferris Wheel of Death looks scary! I know it’s something I know but still seems weird you going into Winter when I am waiting for Summer.
Oh it sounds even more wonderful than it did before *stares at Papasaurus’s inbox hopefully and googles real estate some more*
Everything about this post is wonderful! We’re just about to start summer yet you’ve got me hankering for winter. That banquet and festival sounds amazing – lots of pics please!
It must be strange to get used to June being summer. But they way you describe it sounds so appealing I don’t mind missing summer!
that dark mofo winter feast sounds right up my alley!!
Not sure I could cope with winter in June. THough looking outside right now it is not far off!
So hard to think of you going into winter hibernation when we are just about to enjoy summer (well hopefully).
It is supposed to be our summer now and I had to do the school pick up in the pouring rain… typical! Though what do I expect when I live in Manchester… where it rains every day!! There is so much going on out there with you, makes me want to get out and about now!! Sim @ Sim’s Life xx
It must be quite an experience – getting ready for the chill of winter at the beginning of June. I imagine thought it has to be really experienced to get a feel for it. The festivals you’ve described sound amazing, so vivid – I bet they’re going to be so much fun! I hope you enjoy the winter there as much as you have the autumn!
Ohh clementines now that really is winter but of course here the first thing that then came to mind was Christmas. I think it woudl take me some getting used to, to have Christmas in the summer. I do love reading how your life is Tas is panning out for you. Mich x
Happy winter my lovely friend know you will make the best of things as is your way to appreciate whatever life brings x
The Dark Mofo festival sounds right up my street…. you must write all about it :o). Summer has finally appeared over here, and I must admit that both spring and summer have been pretty good so far. We are going to the Latitude Festival in July… so I hope I don’t get anymore tooth ache at that! X Ps your home sounds lovely – will you ever so a virtual tour? I’m gagging to see all your books on those book shelves. XXX