Oh what a feeling.
God, Nature is so literal. Last week it was autumn, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and everything was just lovely. Clear skies, warm sun and cheerful birdies like this one looking down at me from the parapet of the Chatham Road bridge.
The clean-up guys were doing a stirling job, scooping rubbish out of the creek by the TAFE.
There’s so much of it. It really never ends.
Then the weekend came, and with it winter. It was like a switch being turned off. Or on. The temperature dropped by ten degrees and the rain came tumbling down. The creek was full so I had to find alternative walks for Jambo. One that we tend to do when it’s really wet is to do a circuit of the TAFE college, around the football oval and back to the creek by Maitland Road. The Styx was full and dark and oily and very, very unwelcoming.
On the way back home it started it belting down. And what else would happen on a freezing cold first-day-of-winter’s night with the rain coming down like stair-rods? Of course, a coal train lumbers along just as I get to the lights. And then STOPS!
That was the longest seven and a half minutes of my life. I’m still drying out.
Late Friday afternoon and I watched in bewilderment as a long line of olden-time railway carriages trundled up the line and through the Clyde Street lights. Then the light bulb went on: they were getting ready for Steamfest!
I don’t know how I could have forgotten. My later father-in-law, born in the railway town of Werris Creek to a railway clerk father, was steam mad. (Don’t call them trains – they’re steam locomotives!) He built scaled-down versions, which he ran on the track at Edgeworth, and each year he’d be up at Maitland with all his steam-mad mates. So I felt duty bound to make the effort to watch at least one of them on the commute between Maitland and Newcastle. This is the 3526, crossing Styx Creek and pulling carriages backwards. I’ll bet there’s a proper railway term for that; Kev would have known.
The train (whoops, locomotive: don’t call them trains!) looks like it’s standing still here but I can assure you it wasn’t.
The toot of a steam loco is so much softer and more melancholic than the harsh parp! of a modern diesel (or “diseasel”, as Kev dismissively called them). On my later afternoon walk I caught this coal train, the 9010, thundering through Clyde Street. Maybe in forty years’ time I’ll feel nostalgic for that harsh parp!, but not yet.
The weather cooled on Monday. The creek was too slippery and so I took Jambo round the streets of Hamilton North, always a Plan B walk as far as he’s concerned as it means being on the lead. We came across several dead birds on Newcastle Street, as though they’d just dropped out of the trees. Perhaps they had, perhaps they’re the frailer and aged ones who couldn’t handle a sudden chill.
As winter looms it seems that birds are seeking safety in large groups. A flock of perhaps a hundred sulphur-crested cockatoos flew over my house today, and I counted eighteen cormorants by the TAFE litter boom. Though, after Jambo had tried to round them up, there were eighteen less.
There are still lots of wanderer butterflies in the gasworks, though fewer dragonflies. Certainly one fewer than before after this orb spider caught him. What must it be like to be trapped on a sticky web while you have the juice sucked out of you? Ugh!
This morning was one of those lovely fresh days. A day when you get out on your ladder and do some sprucing up. When this nice man’s finished, hhis black will make a beautiful background for some aerosol-based artwork. I’ll give it two days, max.
Also bumped into this very dapper gent on his way to TAFE. Very chic! I said, “Can I take your picture?” and he said, “Sure!” If I’d asked some older person (and I probably wouldn’t have even asked) I have the feeling that I’d have been met with suspicion and a refusal, but young people don’t mind. It might be the ubiquity of smart phones, blogs and Facebook but I think that this will be the most photographed generation ever. Till the next one.
Finally, if Kotara Under 16s would like to know where there ball is, simply go to the litter boom by the TAFE.