Wishing You A Very Cherry Christmas

Wishing You A Very Cherry Christmas.

Somewhere on the diggings around the Beehive Chimney, a pair of White-fronted Honeyeaters are lurking. I know because I’ve seen the male twice and heard him sing.

How do I know that he has a mate? Well, on both occasions he has gone to the same tree and sung at length from the top branches. The sitings were a week apart so he wasn’t wandering away in search of company. Also, it was the height of the breeding season and one might expect his mate to be sitting on eggs.

So what’s so interesting about this bird? Firstly I have not previously seen or heard it in or around Maldon. I saw three White-fronted Honeyeaters on a visit to Kooyoora State Park (mid-way between Inglewood and St Arnaud) a couple of years ago but others may have seen them here in Maldon and I might just have been unlucky. Secondly, the bird has a truly wonderful song which I suspect is unmatched by other honeyeaters. On first appearance one could be forgiven for thinking that it is an immature New Holland Honeyeater, a bird which Maldon has in abundance. Unfortunately, the New Holland seems particularly aggressive to strangers and I was impressed by the White-fronted Honeyeater’s dogged singing despite the constant swooping attacks from its cousins.

Making hay while the weather permits is an essential component of successful livestock farming, although the cost of feeding livestock through the drought has now made it profitable for some farmers to grow, cut and bale a green oat crop for hay sales instead of growing oats for grain. Why risk the possibility of unwanted weather events – storms etc – resulting in no grain being harvested when, because of drought conditions in many parts of the country, a farmer can get a good price for hay and even run stock on the regrowth, especially if a fodder crop is undersown with the oats?

The weather dictates how we live and work in so many ways. Farming and horticulture are the most visibly affected. Our much appreciated local cherry orchard must survive the weather changes. Wonderful fruit growth from this year’s extra rainfall followed by a huge temperature change confused the fruit’s growth patterns and provided challenges for the fruit grower. Yes, you will most likely enjoy locally grown cherries this Christmas but only if the weather does not bring surprising and unexpected upsets with hailstones or severe hot wind storms or other nasties we could not anticipate.

Eventually everyone will have to take note of the weather much more than they do now and they will have to ask themselves what, if anything, they can do, (a) to live with the weather changes, and (b) how they might help to alleviate the problem.

Air conditioning, believe it or not, is a recent thing but not long ago it was an indulgence for the wealthy who were a bit soft and also wanted to show off their wealth. Now, like so many modern inventions, we take cool air (as we do refrigeration and cold drinks) as an essential part of our daily life, a ‘must have’ convenience. It is regarded as so necessary that air conditioning units can be seen hanging off the outside of some of Maldon’s heritage buildings like futuristic wasps nests; all hard to understand if one grew up without it as I did.

So, how will you know that you (we) have to make life changes? Well, if there are no locally grown cherries at Christmas and a lettuce costs more than you are prepared to pay then you (we) might start to take a good look at some of the things we do in our daily lives and consider if we might change some of them or do without them. Make a check-list and put at the top of it – “Eat less”, “Drink water from the tap, not the fridge (and certainly don’t drink so-called soft drinks etc.)”, and “Switch off the cooling system and find a different way to be comfortable”. It’s not that hard once you make your mind up, and eating less food, particularly heavy foods, and avoiding lolly waters and beers will make an enormous difference.

It is said that we do not make changes until we are pushed or it’s too late and that is probably true. Interestingly, there is a very real ‘feel-good’ element in making worthwhile changes to our lifestyle. If the opportunity arises, ask a reformed alcoholic or drug addict, they know about the benefits of change better than most. Undoing our cultural addictions to our daily lifestyle is the first step towards a change to a better life and coincidently, it includes helping to fix up climate change.

Country Notebook wishes you all a healthy, happy, and locally grown, juicy-cherried Christmas.

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