This Christmas-New Year’s week, with the sun setting at its latest – after 8.30pm - twilight goes for its longest- til almost 9.30pm.
I love these amazing evening skies, with subtle pastels overhead, and gold and ruby bands over turquoise lower down, silhouetting black paddock trees. During this holiday period, I am taking time to notice and enjoy these stunning sunsets and the beauty around our paddock lands. Are you also in a slower mode this week?
December has so much busy-ness: harvest; early production from the home garden; end-of-year work, sporting, and community group get-togethers; graduations, concerts and carols; all before Christmas day itself. Like us, this may also have been the first Christmas with a particular family member missing, adding to the need for some quieter time after Christmas.
Most harvest work and haymaking are done now. Crop remnants lie creamy over the paddock’s brown soil. In the twilight, after some muggy days, as cirrus clouds turn a gentle pink, these remnants seem to take on a silvery hue.
Even more surprising are uncut grasses. Their thin leaves and small seedpods form delicate white patterns that seem to almost glow against darkening backgrounds.
Box trees are blossoming abundantly at the moment. In our paddocks and along Wimmera roads, I notice some branches draping so densely with groups of tiny white flowers that they almost look like their trees have a dusting of snow! This is great news for food gardens especially as these blossoms are so attractive to bees! Having time to follow the buzzing, I was rewarded by finding their hollow (home) over two metres up in one of our box trees. Such trees with hollows are at least a century old.
Out in the paddock in daytime, one tends to only think about the value of big old trees as shade for stock or a cooler place for workers at harvest.
Strolling at twilight, I hear birds calling their evensong as they prepare for night in these trees too. Sometimes I see the tracks of a goanna who also visits these trees and their hollows.
Twilight provides time to think about how long our trees have lived here to be able to provide: dense shade; hollows, roosts, and homes for many other creatures; protection for our soils from drying out by the sun and erosion by the wind; and oxygen production and carbon storage for all life.
Driving into Horsham, the carelessness of a planned grass burn-off, that hit trees as well, saddens me. It makes me wonder whether, across the Wimmera’s paddock lands, enough trees are being cared for and planted to create old trees in the future and provide their benefits for generations after us?
In this ‘holiday’ week, we’ve had a break, a pathway from the difficulties and challenges of 2017, and can look forward to next year.
May I wish all readers the best for their families and livelihoods on their paddock lands for 2018.