Good ol’ Canberra. Here’s a question for a philosopher: even if you view an individual as possessing right to get high, can you also argue that it is someone else’s responsibility to slow down for them when they go for a walk to the nearest servo to address their munchies?
July 4, 2015
October 9, 2014
August 24, 2013
Watch, while it’s only a sky filled with friendly, empty blue. And Mount Franklin daubed white by the last of the westerly gales. Colour climbing out of skeletal trees. People on their ways. Remember it now. While it’s warm. Before it bakes. Before the haze of bush fires. And before the air is thickened, clogged with thirst and heat.
July 28, 2013
On Mt Ainsie at the end of the day. High thin clouds. A skinny grey English artist wearing a rain coat loading a giant easel onto a tiny, skinny car. Chatty Chinese tourists with cameras. Street lights turning the suburbs into constellations. Ranges of hills losing their depth. Bending, coloured sky. The horizon taking the last of the light, folding it into tomorrow.
February 6, 2011
For the first two weeks of the year it rained almost every day. The sky was cluttered with damp, dreary clouds and the air almost cool.
The end of the rain came one morning when, instead of gathering, the clouds gave way to the insistent sun. And from then on it was dry, defying the weather bureau who kept confidently predicting showers. The dry built. Culminating one day with temperatures of nearly 40 degrees and a hot, arid wind that felt like it was blowing from a desert somewhere. And then the whether turned again. Still hot but humid now, with most days ending in booming thunderstorms, purple strokes of lightening and flooded streets.
With it the water brings life. After the rain, the park behind our house fills with what we think are tiny whistling frogs chirping from the tops of trees. Insects too. Our flat is home to a bunch of gangly, spindly house spiders that hunt mosquitoes, moths, and the little black flies that are everywhere now. At night either these spiders, or some secretive cousin of theirs has taken to criss-crossing the flat. Abseiling from ceilings, and sailing across the spaces between walls, trailing thread in their wake. I don’t know why they do it, the single strands can’t possibly catch anything. Maybe they’re safety ropes for arachnid alpinists, or the bungees of base jumping bugs. Either way they’re left waiting for us in the morning, long after their owners have retreated to dark distant corners.
And so the barely awake stumblings of our early mornings are accompanied by gossamer tickles. It’s too fine, and not sticky enough, to be unpleasant. Just an almost intangible aid to awakening, courtesy of the Canberra rains, and everything that flows from them.
June 30, 2010
June 17, 2010
In March, we arrived in the rain. Sunday evening, Canberra airport, and a thick clingy drizzle. Being Wellingtonians this wasn’t anything particularly new. We just adopted our weather posture (a hunch, shrinking back into one’s clothes like a tortoise into its shell) and hurried to the rent-a-car, trying to keep our bags dry.
Rain in Wellington is so common it doesn’t even warrant comment. This isn’t the case in Canberra though. Over the next few days people advised us that the drizzle which had welcomed us to the city was really quite something.
“Several days of it.”
“Most rain we’ve had in 4 years, mate.”
Over time, and with the occasional intermittent deluge, that number increased.
“Dams haven’t been this high in 7 years.”
“Hasn’t been this much rain for 14 years.”
Finally the TV weatherman gave the official verdict.
“Canberra has had its wettest month in 20 years. The drought is over.”
That last comment made me chuckle. The drought breaking weather we’ve been experiencing – the most rain in 20 years! – equates to one, maybe two, days of rain a fortnight. Small bursts of wetness punctuating otherwise blue skies.
I’m pretty sure Canberra’s recent wet-spell would qualify as a plant destroying drought in Wellington.
Anyhow, I’m not complaining. Although, today, the weather is actually really, really bad. Even by New Zealand standards. A low, grey, damp, blanket of clouds across the sky. Windy, wet and cold.
Safe to say, I’m feeling more or less at home.
April 4, 2010
March 30, 2010
January 9, 2010
Well, all going to plan, Jo and I are moving to Canberra. Me to do a PhD; Jo to work. I’ve still got a couple of administrative hoops to clear before the PhD is 100% confirmed but I’m definitely looking forwards to the chance to study and learn. While at the same time feeling perturbed by the task in front of me.
And, of course, the key uncertainty is health. Or, more specifically, my health, field research and developing countries.
We’ll see how we go…
September 25, 2008
My first visit to Canberra was very nearly my last. Some years back, me and my partner at the time took the train down from Sydney to see a Freida Kahlo exhibition at the National Gallery. The gallery was a wonder, but the city surrounding it appalled us. The pomp of the parliamentary architecture, the sterility that always accompanies pre-planned cities (unless they’re in Brazil)…and what’s worse we were there in a weekend, and so had to wander near-empty artificially-wide streets. To be frank the effect was eerie, like we were on the set of a zombie movie. I half expected to turn a corner and discover undead civil servants descending upon us, their wrecked throats groaning out ‘polliicccy’ instead of ‘braaains’.
Needless to say I didn’t race back. But earlier this year my wife and I vaulted the Tasman and found ourselves returned to Australia’s capital. And I found myself loving the place. We arrived to grumpy grey skies and a temperature low enough to have me purchasing the first scarf I saw. And yet, weighed down by that sky, the buildings seemed almost dignified, while the deciduous trees, that ought to have been out of place like colonial nostalgia always is, actually felt right, losing the last of their leaves in the wind gusts.