September has always been a favourite month of mine.
In my head it has always felt like a time of new beginnings. When we lived in the northern hemisphere that seemed at odds with the fact that it marked the start of autumn – a time for closing in rather than reaching out – but perhaps I associated it with the start of the academic year.
Now that we are in the south, September really does signify something new – it is the official start of Australian spring. You would not guess that to look at Mount Wellington, which still has a generous covering of snow on the peak, but the increasing noise levels from the birds in our garden and the lighter mornings are both giving a hint of what’s to come.
Gosh I can’t wait to be warm again. Records show that this winter has been the coldest here for fifty years, and we have really felt it. The stack of firewood in our shed is dwindling, and I am longing to move back into open toed sandals. I feel like I have been under blankets for months.
A lot of the blossom has been and gone already – it bloomed beautiful and bright for a couple of weeks, but some hail showers and heavy winds last week knocked most of the petals to the pavement. At DorkySon’s school they planted daffodil bulbs in the shape of a 50 to celebrate the anniversary taking place this year, and the first few yellow heads are starting to appear at the moment. The gnarled old cherry tree in our garden hasn’t done a thing yet though – I suspect it is waiting for us to get on with some serious weeding around its roots.
We’ve had one decent garden day so far. DorkySon spent a happy afternoon hurtling his John Deere dump truck down the path, while DorkyDad pulled out all the unwanted growth from one bed, and I tackled the other. Those few hours getting dirt under our nails and saying a delighted hello to the worms were a reminder of how important it is to spend time outdoors. It is such a satisfying kind of tired that follows an afternoon of work. We finished by sitting on our steps in the last of the sun, marvelling at the myriad languages and laughs that carried from the soccer game across the street.
Last weekend there were rain showers on and off throughout both days, so rather than getting on with more outdoor work we spent some time at the University of Tasmania’s Open Day. What a contrast with the open days that I went to in the UK, most of which were very stuffy, academic affairs with nothing going on other than a couple of lecturers giving a grudging talk to an overcrowded room. The UTAS event was a real celebration of everything the university stands for. There was food and entertainment put on by groups of international students, stalls run by some of the student societies, sports events, a touch tank of marine animals, and a bouncy castle… They were even offering free 5-minute helicopter rides around the city! I was so struck by the sense of community and the diversity on campus – it was a real eye-opener for me in terms of understanding the work that DorkyDad does.
We made the mistake of saying last Sunday night – on the penultimate day of winter – how well all three of us had done in getting through the season without any colds. So of course we all woke up on Monday morning feeling grotty. DorkySon had his first day off school for months, and spent it on the sofa feeling very sorry for himself. He rallied a bit mid-week – I suspect because he was so desperate to make it to the Mad Hatters Tea Party that was being held at school on Wednesday – but came home again tonight with weary eyes and a hacking cough, so we may be back to the sofa tomorrow.
I am not sure where this year has gone, really. For all that I‘m thrilled to welcome spring it is hard to believe that it is September already. This week marks two full years since our move to Tasmania, and later in the month DorkyDad and I will celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. Eight years! Goodness me.
There is a simplicity here that suits us. A straightforwardness in the people, an appreciation of small things, a clarity of light that makes every day a happy one. I could never have imagined living in Tasmania, in a place where September marks the start of spring. But perhaps I was meant to all along.
My dear friend Lucy from Lulastic – another blogger who has taken that big leap of faith across oceans, and moved from the UK to New Zealand with her family a couple of years ago – has published her second book this week. It is called Thirty Days of Rewilding and it’s all about the importance of getting outside and experiencing nature with your family. I was already looking forward to the opportunities the warmer weather and longer days would offer us for outdoor fun, but having read Lucy’s wonderful book I’m now doubly excited about spending more time outside over the coming weeks and months. I love the combination of rewilding theory, inspirational quotes, real-life case studies and practical advice for how to have fun and help your children (and yourself) feel engaged with the natural world. If you like the sound of her book please pop over and buy a copy for a bargainous £2.59 or check out Lucy’s blog here.
I’ve had a couple of other things published this month too. A reflection on our long cold winter (but also the wonderful ways we have in Tasmania of bringing light and warmth to that winter) at The Island Review. and a post at Kidspot about how what we wear as mothers helps us find our tribe. I got crucified in the Facebook comments for that one, and accused of fuelling the ‘mummy wars’ — whatever they are — but if you read it I hope you’ll realise the only person I was poking fun at was myself.