When I was a child in Melbourne I'd hardly heard of Halloween, but we had an equivalently anarchic, magical, night time celebration. To celebrate either the attempt, or the failure of the attempt, to blow up Parliament a couple of hundred years ago in London, we Aussies would spend weeks gathering fuel (old chairs, tree branches, etc) for huge bonfires in our backyards and in the streets. It was Guy Fawkes Night, on November the 5th, imported with parliamentary government from England.
Please to remember,
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot
This was one childhood chant - possibly abbreviated from something longer and political.
Children accumulated fire crackers and sparklers and catherine wheels and rockets for a few weeks beforehand, and long before the real dark, the crackers - little crackers and huge bungers - went off everywhere, filling the evening with deafening bangs and gunpowder smoke with that most enticing smell.
Bad boys put crackers in small childrens' pockets and threw strings of penny bungers at them to make them run. More socially-adjusted teams of children devised very dangerous and satisfying explosions as group efforts.
In my street, one year, we children set off enough cracker power in a carefully dug tunnel in a vacant block of land to send clods flying all over the adults' street bonfire. It was stupendous. A great deal of shouting and adult recrimination followed. That explosion took a week of planning, pooling of crackers and secret digging. And I bet none of the others involved have ever forgotten it either.
When it was really, truly dark, all the rockets and catherine wheels and sparklers threw coloured stars and fountains of red and silver and golden lights up in the sky above the crackling orange-red bonfires. One notable year our family contributed driftwood from a beach trip to the street fire and amazed everyone with blue-green flames.
Of course the mayhem with the magic meant that over the years children were deafened, blinded, and had hands and faces damaged until, finally, the state government banned all firecrackers. The bonfires became fire hazards. Guy Fawkes night disappeared, and is now mostly forgotten here.
I miss it.
When my children were growing up I revived a bit of that bad and beautiful night magic by having Halloween parties to celebrate my birthday (which happens to fall on All Saints Day just after Halloween). We had adults and children telling creepy tales late around a bonfire and cobwebs and pumpkins and candles and weird birthday cakes. Everyone dressed up and occasionally we went down to the creek by candle and torch light and launched empty egg shells and paper boats for the goblins and witches to sail home in. (I don't know where that one came from - my boys invented it). We also burned magical letters in the bonfire. (I think that came from the paper offerings the children saw Yin's family offering on ceremonial occasions).
Now the children are grown up and away, there will be no magical, fiery shenaningans in this house - and anyway the bushfire season has started early. I 've been reading all the posts of happy halloweeners with a lot of pleasure, and just a little envy. May you all enjoy the magic tonight.
PS I know this post is dated the 30th October, but my posts are always dated the day before they are actually posted - don't know why. Am I on Atlantic and not Pacific time? Anyway it really is the last day of October right now, right here. And it is summer, not autumn, for me.
Friday, 30 October 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Since I enjoyed Julie's blog when I read it - after she'd finished, as I'm always a bit behind the times - there's a link to it in the title of this post. Love the magic of the computer world, and I wish I had the time and patience to learn to work it properly. And cooking too. Meanwhile, isn't this just the proper place to see a film?
Now I'm off to supervise the making of ricotta.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
This morning I took some pictures of Victoria Park as I walked the dogs. I realise it's been almost a year since I posted a similar picture - when I began to use a camera and to write online as well as on paper.
I began blogging to share some of my life with people in Melbourne I didn't see so much when I moved to Ballarat. However my friends and family didn't read it! They preferred letters and phonecalls and visits.
But I came to love the process of looking closely at my day, using images to focus my words. I read other blogs, followed links, learned a lot, and I found some writers whose posts became a vital part of my day.
A few days ago I took another step and put out a few comments. And I got some back. Thank you! I feel full of spring, like the yellow lilies in the park.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
This post is in memory of a bit of Ballarat I loved. Sadly there doesn't seem to have been much local comment on its passing.
In order to modernise the golf course, build a new housing estate and widen the road into Ballarat the long, deep, shady avenue of beautiful old pine trees, alongside the Avenue of Honour, has been obliterated.
Huge old trees, mysterious little old sheds, deep pine-needle paths,
all the scent and colour that cooled summer walks and sheltered winter ones have gone in a few weeks.
The old pro store must have had the mossiest roof in Ballarat. Behind the store there are some doomed camellia bushes and I'm trying to grow some cuttings from them.
This is my nifty miniature cutting greenhouse made from a plastic raspberry container.
I did the Gardening Australia thing and dipped the cuttings in the best redgum honey.
Here are some of the camellia flowers that I picked when the dogs and I slipped behind the wrecker's fence.
I'm making a scarf for a friend from rescued pieces of fog-grey and camellia-coloured silk. She loved the old avenue too.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
Sunday, 4 October 2009
We woke up to a warm dry morning - third in a row - and drove over to Daylesford. At the Sunday market I found a yellow glass platter and a bag of garden-grown grapefruit. Yin bought the serious food while I pottered.
Then I found the new Lark shop. At Last. I've been following it's creation on the Lark blog spot http://the-lark.blogspot.com/. The shop was as charming as I expected and I bought a little Ladybird purse and MixTape Zine.
When I got home, late in the afternoon, a desperate dog insisted that he, I and Kitty-the-sheepdog set out at once for a walk.
Kitty was happily lying in the grubbiest spot in the garden, but she was willing to come along too - when she'd thought it over for a bit.
The plum blossom has already gone above the side gate and we walked out under a mass of deep purple native hibiscus. Daylight saving began this morning and summer is on its way.
With the recent rain and warmth these hand-sized funghi heaved the earth out of their way,
and mushroomed into the sports ground of the high school across the road.
The school grounds have been empty because of the term holiday, so they have had three days of quiet to emerge.
On Monday the students return. I'm afraid that when I walk through Monday evening all this amazing effort will be for nothing and someone won't have been able to resist kicking them out of the ground.