Monday, August 08, 2005

Wattle - it's the annual goldrush Down Under!

It's the second half of winter down here in Victoria, in the temperate southeastern corner of Australia. We just had a week or more of pleasantly mild weather, due to northwesterly winds crossing the continent and remaining relatively warm.

But a few days ago a southwesterly change hit, bringing with it cold winds from down south in the tempestuous Great Southern Ocean, and perhaps ultimately from further south in the Antarctic. There's a forecast for light snowfalls this week in the hills ringing Melbourne. Thankfully it never snows down here in the suburbs: we get some frost, hail and sleet down here, but never snow. [UPDATE: The predicted snow did indeed arrive on Wednesday. But instead of being confined to the mountains it fell down to sea level on some of our southern ocean beaches. Snow fell in some of Melbourne's suburbs, but didn't manage to reach as far as downtown Melbourne. This was initially described as a "once in fifty year" event, then later as a "never before experienced" occurence. So much for global warming -- maybe it's global cooling instead. (?)]

The winter of 1987/1988 at the IBM Development Laboratory in Rochester, Minnesota (working on the IBM AS/400 before it was announced) gave me a taste of bitter, numbingly cold weather. Since that time I dropped my notion of Melbourne as being really cold, and now consider it to be just uncomfortably cool and a bit miserable in short bursts.

The reference to "goldrush" in the title? Well, despite those cold fronts marching regularly across the southern ocean, there's one thing that I find heartening and uplifting about this time every winter. It's the riot of gold that bursts out in August during the annual blooming of various species of Acacia tree -- see wattle and acacia and sclerophyll in Wikipedia. The gold stands out ever so distinctly against the background green of the leaves. (As an aside, in this southeastern corner of of Australia in the 19th century we had the Victorian gold rush.)

You can see why Australia chose green and gold for the colours of our national sports uniforms, as seen at the Olympic Games, etc.

Finally, here's a collection of royalty-free pictures that I snapped for you today (08/08/2005) just across the road at the nearby Wattle Park reserve:

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