Springtime Ode

September and spring is emerging in the southern hemisphere. And my garden!

Luminous Fluoro Flowers
My ode to springtime using DooDooLite

I have just found out what Crocosmia means!  Small, brightly coloured funnel-shaped blooms, sword-shaped foliage, grown from bulbs similar to the Iris family.  Grouped together they make ideal, butterfly-friendly floral displays.  Such a variety of colours and shapes to gladden the heart of any artistic gardener.

On Gardenia Creating Gardens website, companion planting with Crocosmia is reminiscent of English cottage gardens (see below) although they are natives of South Africa.  I haven’t planted Crocosmia, I should, they tolerate Brisbane’s subtropical climate, humidity, heat and current drought-like conditions.

Flower Crocosmia
https://www.gardenia.net/guide/Great-Companion-Plants-for-Your-Crocosmia

Since Queensland won’t be getting tropical rainfall for a couple of months yet, I will satisfy myself with what I can photograph in my own meagre garden; and add excerpts from some famous poems about springtime.

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“Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
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“A Light Exists in Spring” by Emily Dickinson
A Colour stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.
It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.
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“September in Australia” by Henry Kendall 
Grey Winter hath gone, like a wearisome guest,
And, behold, for repayment,
September comes in with the wind of the West
And the Spring in her raiment!
The ways of the frost have been filled of the flowers,
While the forest discovers
Wild wings, with the halo of hyaline hours,
And the music of lovers.
Azalea and Dragon
“Lines Written in Early Spring” by William Wordsworth
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
Gnomes
“Australian Spring” by Hugh McCrae
And jolly Spring, with love and laughter gay
Full fountaining, lets loose her tide of bees
Upon the waking ember-flame of bloom
New kindled in the honey-scented trees.
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“Spring” by Christina Georgina Rossetti
There is no time like Spring,
When life’s alive in everything,
Before new nestlings sing,
Before cleft swallows speed their journey back
Along the trackless track –
God guides their wing,
He spreads their table that they nothing lack –
Before the daisy grows a common flower
Before the sun has power
To scorch the world up in his noontide hour.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Council Meeting

 

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Happy
Lightning Bolt
Sad

REPORT

It is going to be an uncomfortable meeting.  The aluminum-lined tin roof of the old scout hut has Christmas lights still hanging from the beams but no ceiling fans.  In the slowly increasing heat, city council employees stand around fanning themselves with official paperwork, sweat running into the collars of their creased jackets.

A gathering of various ages and nationalities, husbands, wives, old friends milling about, young children already fidgeting, and teenagers comparing notes about being awake so early on a Saturday.  And me, taking notes for a writing class.

My brief:  Go to an unusual place and observe people and surroundings then write about it.

I tread the worn linoleum flooring, past bare walls, seeking a vacant chair.  Instead being lured by chilled water jugs, beaded with droplets.  The moisture runs onto trestle tables covered with plastic cloths and neatly stacked glassware.  On a corner table, ignored, a tea urn, china cups and sugar.  “Too hot for a cuppa,” hisses a woman “but a biscuit would be nice.”  No such luck, it looks like it will be all business.

I chose this council meeting, billed as a Community Centre Public Consultation, hoping for a good cross-section of individuals.  The focus is an old disused council depot just up the street from the scout hall which is ripe for redevelopment.  Possibly a venue for arts and crafts, retired folk or out-of-work men with carpentry skills.  Doesn’t sound too threatening but you never know with hot tempers and hotter weather.

There are not enough white plastic chairs so a frantic search gets underway to find more seats for late arrivals.  By now, attendance hovers around 45 humidity-affected people.  Craggy old veterans, highly-perfumed women, groups in casual shirts and shorts, retired types perhaps looking forward to the proposed construction.  One woman commands attention with a loud voice, passionate about protecting her home from noise and extra traffic.  A male voice tells her “It hasn’t started yet so shut up.”

Registration sheets are handed around and duly completed, information leaflets handed out, a welcome speech, introductions all round and the meeting starts.  The Councillor and various council departments take turns talking about the proposed community centre site and how it will benefit the general public.  A white board and black pens are used to draw proposed plans, stressing that existing trees will remain and more planted.

I put my reading glasses on as a slide presentation illuminates but some gruff local residents butt in with irrelevant queries.  A young, flushed council assistant is hassled by senior homeowners out to protect their land values, citing added burdens on the already strained infrastructure.  “Traffic is bad enough now, this street can’t cope with extra cars.”  And “If an event was on, numbers would treble and we couldn’t get out of our driveways!”  There is a smattering of applause and a red-faced toddler starts to cry.

The Councillor is getting agitated, stern faced and unhappy about these interruptions to her pet project.  She rises, retorts in a firm, concise manner “Questions and answers will be held at the end of this session.  Please refrain from interrupting” then she sits down and furiously scribbles a note.

Feeling overheated and drowsy as the meeting drags on, I’m shaken from my lethargy by an unusual break in the proceedings.  Oh dear.  A plus-size young lady on a wobbly plastic chair is starting to slip.  Slowly, her chair sinks as the legs buckle and she gracefully slides to the floor.  Plop!  The Council officials gasp as one.  Embarrassed, she rolls over and stands up.  Everyone is fussing, offering her sympathy and cold water.  The weakened chair is quickly replaced and a sturdier one supplied.

More words, blurring in, old ground is covered then comes audience input time.  An outpouring of emotion from local residents, more fervent than factual, practical comments are overruled by zealous objections.  Limp council staff organise the tables and chairs into groups and hand out sheets of butcher’s paper and pens for the audience to scrawl down comments about traffic, parking issues and the type of structure they would like to see near their homes.  I don’t attempt a drawing, unlike the person next to me who is lavishly embellishing a castle-like structure.  Hardly acceptable but she is about six years old.  My hand melts the thin paper and the felt-tip pen smudges as I write a couple of comments.

The Councillor stands, looking strained, and addresses the gathering with a formal thank-you.  Her politeness is wasted.  It’s time to go and already people are moving towards the rear doors.  Outside the air is heavy with the smell of eucalyptus.  I fold my notes, not looking forward to my hot car and a long drive home.

AFTERWORD:  Jump ahead in time, eight years to be precise, and the derelict sheds are revitalised and re-purposed into a community centre, a thriving hub for group activities.  Men’s Shed displays are held yearly, artisans can be commissioned for special projects.  The perceived threat to peace and tranquility did not materialise due to sensible planning and a carpark.  Feathers were hardly ruffled … unlike the storm brewing over old homes being demolished and their sites redeveloped for high density box-like dwellings.  Now that really will affect their suburban infrastructure …

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Community Connection
People Power