Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Last week I thought we were seeing the end of the scary weather. I was wrong, very wrong. Last Weds. the CFA rated the fire danger as "Very High" (yellow). Today? Oh, lordy... today it's worse - today it's "severe" (orange) in most of the state, including the central district - where we live.

Stephen and I figure that if it's "severe" for the entire district, in practical terms it's probably one notch higher on Mount Dandenong, just because of the terrain.

The temperature as I type this (about 9:30 a.m.) is in the mid-20's - which is fairly comfortable. The high predicted for today is 34 C - not "stinkin' hot", but fairly toasty, all the same. And it's going to be windy (30-45 km/h) - it's the  dry-plus-hot-plus-windy that's producing the elevated danger.

Tomorrow the rating will drop back down to "high" (blue) and on Friday it will go all the way to "low-mod" (green), and it looks like it will stay that way throughout Easter weekend. I'd really like to think today is the end of the high-danger days - but I said that last week, didn't I?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Summer's Last Hurrah (I Hope)

Last Thursday the temperatures dropped and the long heat-wave ended. With the cooler temperatures came some rain (mostly over the weekend), and we were so glad to see it. Is summer over, finally? Yes - and no (sort of).

Today the fire danger is jumping once again from "high" to "very high", according to the CFA (Country Fire Authority). The temperatures predicted will be "warm" (29 C maximum), but not stinkin hot.  I'm not really sure why the fire danger rating is being elevated, but I'm certainly not going to argue - the CFA knows what they are about. There's to be a total fire ban in the western districts of the state - a clear sign that even 29 C can be problematic. For tomorrow we're getting 26 C as a maximum, but the weather predictions are for "damaging winds", especially in "higher elevations". Here on Mount Dandenong, that probably will translate into power outages (due to falling branches).


Looks like we're in for one more day of "sniffing the air", followed by a day without electricity.

I hope - I sincerely hope - we'll now be able to bid summer adieu. Got my fingers crossed - and saying a prayer that the CFA folks will have nothing exciting to do...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's Fine, But It's Not

Stephen and I spent a little time in the city - partly because we wanted to, but also partly to get away from the mountain on days when the fire danger was, well, somewhat upsetting.

On mornings we'd get up and go walking. On one of those mornings we walked around part of Princes Park - a lovely green space filled with gorgeous mature trees (most European trees), grassy playing fields and joggers. We walked in the mornings, trying to get our exercise in before 9:30 or so, when the heat became oppressive. Here's a photo I took as we walked down along the western side of the park, moving toward the CBD:

Lovely and green. That grass you see has been watered - without city watering, there'd be dormant grass there (or just dirt).

And here's another taken along a path which more-or-less cuts through the center of the park, moving from the western edge toward the east. Notice the gorgeous trees:

Then, as we continue east, leaving the park, a lane of green space bordering the Melbourne Cemetery (the same one which is home to the Elvis memorial):

But what's this? Look at the photo above again and notice the ground. And here - have a look at this:

This tree (below) is deciduous - but it shouldn't be dropping it's leaves in February (northern hemisphere folks... think "August").  It's a smallish tree - it wouldn't yet have a deep root system tapping into water well below the surface, as the much larger trees have.

A lot of trees, stressed by the heat and lack of moisture, are dropping their leaves early, desperately clinging to life - trying to survive what has been a really difficult summer. In recent weeks I've noticed more and more sections of the western face of Mount Dandenong seem to have sections of clearly dead trees - maybe they were there before, but I just don't think so...

There will have been a LOT of casualties this year - plants which had been doing fine, but will fall victim to another record-setting summer.

Don't believe in global warming? Move to Australia, live here for a few years (as I have) and then look me in the eye and tell me so.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The View From My Window

We're still concerned about the lack of rain, but oh... how glorious the forest was this morning. On mornings like this, when it's cool and sunny - with just a bare whisp of breeze. The forest is sparkling green, it's so beautiful, seductive. There was hardly a sound this morning other than the soft twitters of birds here on the mountain. The air is fresh and sparkling, pure and healthy to breathe, with the faintest trace of scent from the gums.

The kind of morning that makes you just glad you are alive.