The Joy of Winter

If there is one thing about living just off the Blue Mountains, it is that we really do get four seasons. Often in the space of an afternoon.

a-snowy-track-through-the-forestI have become more attune with the seasons while living here, for several reasons. When we were doing the ‘super-commute’ to Sydney you really noticed when the sun came up and set because for months on end, much of your commuting time would be in the dark.

But also with the variety of plants growing about the property it is great to see when things start to flower and die off.

Our house is  passive solar. On 21 June, the sun comes all the way through our living area and touches the back wall. On 21 December the sun doesn’t enter the house at all. I could actually draw a line from the deck to the back wall of the dining room and mark it with the dates. Then in later years, simply by looking at the line of shadow on the floor at midday, I would be able to tell the date.

It does get cold here, not as cold as it might down the imaginatively named Snowy Mountains, but cold enough to let you know you are alive. It has snowed twice since we have come here, but at an elevation of only about 650m, it doesn’t hang around for long.

The road on the hill behind us is much higher and gets closer to 1000m about 10km down the road.

snow-on-a-tree-fern-leavesThe other day I saw on Facebook that Jenolan Caves reported it had snowed overnight. The caves themselves are quite low, but the road to them is subject to snow and ice.

So the next morning I got into the car and went for a drive.

By the time I got to the high points of the road, the snow in the surrounding forest was about 4cm thick. I could tell by the amount of snow piled up on the picnic tables.

I pulled the car to the side of the road and walked into the forest.

The first thing that hit me was the noise.

The snow has a deadening effect on noise and the forest sounds much quieter than usual. As I walked, each footfall made a pleasant crunching sound. It is the unique sound of walking on fresh snow. It is a sound that brings back memories on the first time you ever saw snow and the joy and wonder associated with it.

There was a gentle breeze blowing through the forest and it was blowing some of the snow off the leaves, making it seem as if it was snowing again. During the time I was there, not a single car went past on the road and the only thing to break the silence was a kookaburra. It too was laughing at the joy of being in a snow filled forest.

wallaby-on-jenolan-caves-roadI stopped at several places along the road including one stop to admire the sight of snow resting on a tree fern (living up to its name Dicksonia Antarctica). At a rest area there were two small wallabies and I pulled over hoping to get a picture. As I got out of the car I thought they would hop away, but one started coming toward me instead. I crouched down to take a photo and it stopped less than a metre away. We both looked at each other for a while before it hopped away up the hill. It was a special moment.

Back in the garden at home the plum tree is in blossom, the apple tree is starting to bud and the Eucalyptus is showing signs of new growth. After the brief cold snap, spring is on its way.

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