Warrandyte Winter

Winter in Warrandyte

Winter in Warrandyte

The droppings along the veranda told their own story – we had house guests. In an area where there are hundreds of trees, lofty perches with views to die for, these pigeons preferred the ledged under-hang of our flat roofed house.

It was summer when we moved in. During the will we / won’t we buy stage last spring we decided that the dirt road was charming, the sloping driveway manageable and the absence of a shed for all those absolutely necessary  boy’s toys, would be easily remedied. The windows, whole walls of them, were amazing, bringing new meaning to our previous experience of light and airy. As for the resident pigeons; Bunnings was sure to have the ways and means necessary for pigeon eviction.

Then it was mid- winter. The one vehicle road was gently pot-holed and slippery, especially where the clay base nudged through. The boy toys, along with assorted crates and garden tools were still cluttering up the back veranda. Meanwhile we searched for a suitable flat spot on our not- so- gently sloping half acre to site a DIY shed. The windows – well, they were still amazing, the outlook a gently moving green palette flicked with light or raindrops.  And the pigeons were still there.

They zoomed in like wide bodied planes coming in to land at Tullamarine. Their cooing might have been  Hollywood cute but not when it’s outside your window. I just didn’t appreciate that steady hmmm, hmmm, hmm, with a recurring throaty, gargly roll of what might be their larynx. As you can see, I’m not up in pigeon physiology.

It turned into a battle – man against bird, man being the correct terminology here because my job is to affirm and encourage the mighty efforts being made by the male of this household to dislodge  these  unwelcome tenants. They ducked easily under painstakingly nailed lines of fishing line and continued to build nests in what they obviously thought of as home. Plastic spikes were moderately effective but far too expensive and best kept for the cross beams under the back veranda and car port– their favourite cooing spots and the place to socialise.

A kind of chicken wire turned out to be the most effective deterrent. Each piece had to be customised to fit the space, then fastened top and bottom with loopy kind of nails which no doubt have a name, but I’m better with spirituality than hardware. All this is took time, as well as a new ladder, lots of trips to the nearest Bunnings, dropped nails and occasionally, interesting language.

A first winter in any new location is a time for the new residents and the house to really get to know one another. Summer followed by a balmy autumn was our honeymoon period, but the real knowing came with the first cold snap closely followed by a power bill that owed most of its total to ducted heating. Now we saw the sense of those heavy roman blinds on all that lovely exposed glass. Reluctantly we shut out the night and kept the heat in.

Such winter measures were balanced by the joy of an occasional open fire, a place to relax and the focal point of our Christmas in July celebration when the sparkle of candles from every window lit the house and silvered the gum leaves. A winter fire, contained in a wood burner or fireplace was warm and comforting, a breathing- space before the ever present summer danger of bushfire.

It is said that our Australian landscape is the face of God, turned to us and inviting us in. it’s not only the occasional biting chill or the gentle sound of rain on the roof that talks to me of God. It’s the wood smoke scented evening air reminding me of a Presence as ephemeral as it is real. It’s the Yarra River running brown and high, pulsing with a deceptive energy so unlike its lazy summer meander. I stand and let its God energy fill my spirit and drive away any winter blues. As for the pigeons – the battle continues.

Judith Lynch