One of my favourite poems is John Keats’ Ode to Autumn and I think it was written with today in mind.
For weeks now we’ve woken to mist on the river, a sight I’ve only experienced once or twice when staying away from home. But never at my home. It’s glorious to watch the white folds of cloud lift as early morning gives way to the day ahead. Today was different though. Today the mist rolled over everything in waves, hanging heavily until late morning. Autumn is closing in on us and winter is knocking at out door.
While the days are shorter, the weather cooler and the sun weaker, Tasmania is alight in shades of yellow, brown, orange and red. The autumn leaves are creating crispy carpets in parks, paths and our own yard. I can’t help but dip my feet into these carpets and kick the leaves up in the air, sharing this simple pleasure with my boys.
Habitat Plants’ creek walk
With autumnal shades lighting our way today, we set off for Liffey to see the Habitat Plants native nursery Harvey’s been interested in and experience Liffey Falls (and maybe run into Bob Brown). The nursery sat in the shadow of the Western Tiers mountain range in a very secluded location that made it feel a bit like a hidden gem. Harvey was in heaven and started reciting his botanical names. The kids immediately found sticks to stir up the pebble paths and took turns taking photos of their feet with my phone until we discovered a path to a creek.
It was only a short walk, but it felt like we’d walked into another world. The air was scented with a mixture of eucalyptus, damp soil and an indescribable freshness, with moss covering the rocks and fallen trees. Both boys were fascinated by how soft the moss was and I felt joy at sharing with them the pleasure of something so simple.
The road to Liffey Falls was windy and bumpy as we climbed one side of the mountain and then back down again into the state forest. Ethan was asleep by the time we got to the falls so Harvey took Noah to see the waterfall while I read the paper in the car (with his snores as my soundtrack). When the boys returned I swapped roles with them and walked through the towering tree ferns and snow gums, past some interesting funghi down, down, down through several temperature changes until I saw the falls. The water was rushing white and foamy over a rock platform that looked almost like it had been constructed by man because of the rectangular shapes the rocks made. On the way back to the car I saw a group of black cockatoos playing in the trees above me. Glorious.
It was time for a late lunch, so we headed towards Deloraine and stopped at our usual place – the train park on the river. The boys love playing here, but first we all needed something to eat at Deloraine Deli. Harvey and I shared a delicious ploughman’s platter made up from four Tasmanian cheeses (Red Rubicon, Camembert, Chive and Cheddar), fresh bagette and home-made pickled onions and tomato relish. The boys had a toasted cheese sandwich, which they both devoured and then headed for the cafe’s toy corner (a clever addition). Harvey and I enjoyed some time together over cake and tea before we all headed back down the hill for some time at the park. What a perfect end to our autumn day.
Playing at Deloraine’s train park
Ode to Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’erbrimmed their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.