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Autumn color

The seasons in my corner of Australia are not as marked or dramatic as those in the Northern Hemisphere. Our native vegetation is beautiful, but subtle —many shades of green and grey-green, and the only trees that change color in autumn and lose their leaves in winter are exotic species.

‘Exotic’ meaning they originally came from other countries and are non-native to this one — Japanese maples, ginkgos, liquidambers, ash trees, poplars and so on. Mostly they’re from the other side of the world. They were originally brought here by people nostalgic for the kind of trees and foliage and flowers they grew up with.

Not for us whole forests of glorious autumn color. In the country amidst all the soft grey-green, you might spot an old farmhouse and a line of golden poplars, and you can be pretty sure they were planted by early colonists, planting something that reminded them of home.

So we often get rather excited by bright autumn colors. And when a friend of mine recently went for a walk in her neighborhood, she raced back to get her camera to take these photos. And shared them — thanks, Kalli.

The main plant in my garden that gives me glorious autumn color is my Virginia creeper, and this year it has been more spectacular than ever.  The photo below has not been touched up or filtered at all. It really was that crimson. I say was, because it’s almost gone now.

 The older suburbs are the generally the ones that have the best autumn color, as they’re planted with mostly exotics both in people’s gardens and in the streets. But in some areas (like mine) when an old street  tree comes down, they are being replaced with native species. Many local councils are planting with natives rather than exotics these days for the environment, for the birds and native creatures, and I support that.

In my area, since the policy of planting with native trees over the last few decades,  there has been a visible increase in the number and variety of native birds, especially lorikeets (small colorful native parrots.) But more of that another day.

But in this time of isolation, what a treat it is to walk the streets and enjoy an unexpected vista of autumn color.

Zoom with dog

Since lockdown started, I’ve had a number of meetings via Zoom — several with writers friends and one with my former workplace, which publishes the little adult literacy books I write.

One weekly meeting with writer friends takes place in the evening, and for some reason my dog, Milly, finds it quite intriguing. She’s quite used to me making random comments, and muttering away at my manuscript or characters,  and she’s perfectly used to me talking on the phone.

But Zoom seems to be another thing. Maybe it’s because I’m sitting on the couch, instead of where I usually work (which I’m told is too dark for my friends to see me) and talking and laughing.

Clearly I’m talking to her. And sitting in a place she’s not usually allowed. So I get regular visits and gentle nudges, because if I’m not working and am sitting doing nothing, I obviously need to be patting a dog.  So this is what happens, several times during a zoom get-together. Last night we had three dogs showing their furry faces on zoom, but the photos of the others didn’t come out, so I cropped  it.

A review

Hi everyone. As I said  a few blog posts back, reviews have become pretty important for authors, and my first “official” one has come in for MARRY IN SCARLET — from Publisher’s Weekly. And it’s a good one (phew!) 

I’ve had several lovely reviews from readers and bloggers who have read ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies)  and I’ll be posting some more of them, and also some snippets from the book, in the lead-up to the publication of MARRY IN SCARLET, (on May 26) but I’ll try not to let the blog be all promo.