There can be no doubt that the Winter King has come. Chill permeates the air poking into every nook and cranny. The last, lingering autumn leaves seem all the more magnificent, their colour glowing like embers as the late afternoon sun illuminates these stragglers.
Last week was spent in Melbourne to visit my daughters. While there I relished the experience of a “real”winter. So many exquisite images such as golden elm leaves dappling the black trunks and lacey branches of the gnarled, old elm trees that line Saint Kilda Road. Fountains sending showers of tiny rainbows ; thick fog that obscures and reveals; a carpet of red and orange and burgundy, the last autumn offerings of the Liquid Amber Trees.
The winter sky down south seems to be almost always grey. That greyness and lack of sunlight being a main feature of a Melbourne winter. Winter down there is sharp. The clip, clop of the carriage horses snap on the bitumen as they drag the tourists up and down Swanston street. Even the trams seem to crackle as they trundle along.
In many places winter can be bare and brown, as the felt scene below tries to portray. Harsh frosts dry out the earth and bleaches out most colour. The ground becomes hard, compacted, unyielding- or so it seems.
Winter will grow even colder as it draws us into longer, darker days. All too soon it will be Solstice and the shortest day. Slowly, at times it seems too slowly, the dark will become dissolve into light. Winter, however, has yet to reveal fully what is to play .
Some places in Australia get cold enough for snow. When we lived in the Central west, and later Canberra, we did experience heavy frosts, sleet, snow and ice. A snowy day was heralded with glee by the children as usually it meant time off school and snow play.
Having experienced this kind of weather has enabled me to feel able and comfortable creating snowmen, and white scapes. These were a real part of Winter, not a hankering or imagining of something unrelated to our Australian climate. I also remember with delight and awe the magic of the first snowflakes dancing; the silence as the landscape becomes covered by a dazzling white blanket; the beauty of icicles shimmering and sending out rainbows, as well as chillblains, and the slush that came after the thaw.
Especially winter makes me appreciate and relish the cosiness of home. Snuggling under layers, a good book, soup , the crackle of a fire and the time to imagine and dream. However, it also brings sadness and concern for those who are homeless and exposed to the severity and cruel impacts that Winter can impose.
This winter is a reminder of the effects of global warming that has already caused melting and disappearance of the polar ice caps. The impact of climate change on our planet is not fully understood and for many seems not to be an issue . We are facing the grim prospect of losing fragile Arctic environments and with it the extinction of many species of flora and fauna. Indigenous groups too are also losing their land, lifestyle and customs
With this in mind I have started making Arctic species in the hope that these little creations might engender curiosity and appreciation for the wonderful gifts that nature has given.