Tuesday 11 June 2013

An Exchange of Light

[Winter sunrise, South Hobart]
If I believed in omens, then this was a good one. A day that took forever to come, preceded by a night that showed no signs of ending, had finally begun. And with a brilliant light show. The rising sun lighting the underside of unusually fluid cloud formations, had let the whole valley know about it. Even the preoccupied soon-to-be travellers, who were doing their best to digest breakfast while going through checklists and hopping up with an "ooh" or a "that's right!" or a "what time do we have to go?"

Perhaps all big trips begin with this: the nerves and doubts and anxious anticipations. Still it was good to be reminded that even if we were about to leave it behind for the northern version, the southern sun would keep rising here, just as it always had.


For weeks now that sun had refused to go into its winter recession. Late autumn and earlier winter had been mild. And dry ... so dry that one of my to-do items was to water the garden. In June! A local friend and I had agreed that we could only tell it was winter because the sun was going down early. In our valley it had started dropping behind the mountain well before 4pm. Not even climate change could alter that.


But unseasonally warm or not, the signs of winter: those smells and sounds and colours - or lack of them - were still plain. In the days before our departure the smell of apples in the storage boxes beside the brewery had returned, along with the trumpeting of scavenging currawongs. In the Cascade Gardens, the deciduous trees had become almost bare, their shed leaves adding a rich whiff to the air. On the Rivulet the ducks now rested, mute and sleepy, beside willows that wept for foliage lost.


It was hard to imagine exchanging this winter of ebbing light and life, for the full bloom of a far northern summer. Yet after an ugly transition - 30 hours in a noisy metal box, eating stale, over-heated food, trying to sleep sitting up - we landed in Bergen, Norway.


[Bergen, Norway from Mt Floyen]


And here we are, deluged with daylight, beset by blossoms, foraging fresh blabaer (blueberries to us). It would seem churlish to complain of jet lag. It's time to get out and see summer in the forests and mountains and fjords of Norway. The European adventure has begun.


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