Persimmons light up the winter garden, and are delicious to eat. Heavy cropping means plenty for the birds, as well as friends & neighbours
On this shortest day the weather here is the epitome of deep winter. The deciduous trees are now leafless, the river flowing strongly, and the thought of stepping outside immediately evokes a shiver.
As I lay and light my fire each morning, I contemplate the source of each sliver of bark, pine cone, and small twig as I place it carefully onto the tiny glowing heart, and blow the sparks into dancing flame. Then come the thicker pieces - a selection of last year's heavy prunings, grape vine, apricot, peach, apple, and almond.
The scent of pine and eucalytpus is joined by their fruity odour.
Finally the fire is hot enough for me to select a log.
Will it be a piece of Lemon-scented gum, fallen last summer from an ailing tree on a nearby vacant block? Or a piece of the Paulownia a neighbour had to remove from her garden when it became a giant? Or a short section of jarrah, hewn many decades ago from the once magnificent forests of Western Australia, and discarded when an old house up the street was demolished? Maybe a piece of ash from the park across the road, blown down by summer gales?
Every piece, collected, cut, stacked, and carefully seasoned, during the last couple of years, brings a memory,
and with it, the sense of the completion of a cycle.
In my small well-insulated house, the very efficient little Franklin stove needs to burn for only a few hours to keep things warm for the whole day - sometimes longer if the weather is not too cold. The kettles boil quickly, and I use hot rainwater to shower or wash while the warmth is at it's peak. An iron heats quickly on the stove-top if I need it. Thermos flasks are filled with more hot water for later use, and food cooked for both today's and future meals.
This is the time of year when I can stock my freezer with cooked pulses, soups, curries, and pasta sauces for the summer - all those dishes which need long slow cooking, and would use so much power on a gas or electric stove.
Of course solid fuel stoves need to be properly managed, the wood obtained from a sustainable source, and well-seasoned - smouldering wood actually produces both toxic gas, and potent greenhouse gases - but for those of us who experience a real winter, a fire keeps us in touch with the true realities, not just during the cold weather, but all the year round.
In an urban situation too many badly managed wood fires certainly cause severe pollution, but fortunately our LEGISLATURE has so far moved to educate, and only to intervene in individual cases when poor management causes a genuine nuisance.
As you in the North dance at Midsummer, maybe around a bonfire,
do not forget to collect, prepare and store Nature's bounty of warmth, as well as food.
It is so easy in this 21st.century to forget about Winter during the Summer warmth,
and then to be reduced to flicking a switch when the cold comes.
While there are many who now have no choice but to use electric power, gas or kerosene,
those who can at least have a token hearth should bless their good fortune.
And those who do not can still prepare, by checking and/or increasing insulation,
using alternative means of power generation where available, reducing consumption,
and working to raise awareness of the need for green energy sources.
may continue to think in terms of geological time
but we are creatures of the Earth, who have a life to live here, and a responsibility to those who come after us.
More about Solar and Lunar Festivals in Southern Australia
Inspirations (recently updated)
And a final thought, from the Introduction to the Designer's Manual, on Permaculture Design Philosophy:
"A person of courage today is a person of Peace.
The courage we need is to refuse authority, and to accept only personally responsible decisions."
with love from Margaret RainbowWeb
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