The last month of Winter in the mountains is notoriously windy. The westerly winds howl around us on top of the range and no amount of stoking the fires seems to keep the house warm. We have had some absolutely freezing nights, down to -8 degrees, and the earth is hard and crunchy with frost. The dams are covered with ice, and some snow lingers on the southern slopes. There is no sign yet of any growth is the paddocks, although there are buds on the wattle, waiting for the warmth.
The wind has deterred us from our usual long rambles through the bush, and it has been a while since we had dinner on the fire outside. We still get outside when we can, and especially if there is any snow to play in, but we always have a hot thermos on hand to warm our bodies from the inside out. It is in this last month of Winter that I am more nostalgic than usual for northern Australia, where this time of year the air is mild and gentle, instead of biting like here.
The kids have had several bouts of winter illnesses; we seem to have just got the last one well when someone else comes down with a new sniffle. It’s just that time of year. The extra energy it takes for them to fight these bugs, and to stay warm through these freezing days, mean they are more tired than usual at night. Their lips are cracked, their noses red, and, it seems, when they are worn out like this they are less inclined to be patient with one another.
By the last month of Winter I am looking for new ways to keep them well nourished and warm. We have hot milk with cacao, honey and cinnamon at night on the sheepskin rug in front of the fire, and have abandoned several beds so that we can all snuggle up together for warmth: three in one bed, three in another. In a bid to bring more still more warmth to our evenings, I have taken to whipping up a quick pudding as I am cooking the dinner, and we have been working our way through the pudding section of ‘The C.W.A (Country Women’s Association) Cookery Book and Household Hints’. Who could resist such treats as ‘roly poly pudding’, ‘apple dumplings’, ‘economical plum pudding’, ‘olney pudding’ or ‘treacle pudding’? Straight out of the pages of an Enid Blyton book! If only the chooks would start laying again – we don’t have enough eggs for all these puddings! But it seems they too, are waiting for the warmth to return.
Snow at least brings some compensation for having to endure the cold and never fails to delight
Curled up on the ‘Jack Frost’ rug in front of the fire, a tuckered out little fellow
A full Winter moon rising over brown bare paddocks
Icy water and bright brittle Winter lightA cold morning sky, the tussock bent sideways by the wind.
Hot thermos of tea, hot blueberry and lemon wholewheat scones
When will those chooks start laying again?