Shifting – May Ride 1 – On fire

Earlier this year, everything was on fire. Or so it seemed. It was estimated that 80 percent of the Australian population suffered through the effects of long-duration smoke. The area burned was so extensive across the country, and the fires lasted for so long, that it is now called Black Summer. We’ve had an Ash Wednesday (1983), a Black Friday (1939) and a Black Saturday (2009), among others. But yep, this time we got a whole summer.

And so that seems a long time ago. We’ve moved on to another crisis – extensive in its impacts and effects on human health, the economy and ‘life as we knew it’. It makes summer feel so far removed. So when the leaves began to fire up this autumn, it has been hard to believe that we are just ending a summer that feels at least three seasons ago.

The restrictions in my state have meant I’ve only been doing rides from home for all of April and May so far. So there haven’t been any real adventures or all that much fun. I’ve been riding as much as possible, but all local rides of about 50kms or less over the same ground generally.

But as boring as that is, Mother Nature has decided to compensate for lack of adventure with a brilliant show of autumn colour. The leaves of all sorts of deciduous trees have been on fire for several weeks now. We rarely get good autumn colour in Oz. Most years the leaves just sorta turn brown at the same time as they turn a subtle colour and then fall off. You might get good colour in one species in a year, but many times the late heat in March and April just sees the leaves turn brown and go. March and April were both cooler than normal this year, and the autumn break (when the rainy season begins) came in early April. Maybe that’s been the secret to the good colour in all exotic species across the board?

Regardless, let me share some pictures of local rides over the past month – no descriptive narrative, just some fabulous trees!

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Ovens River Reserve at Markwood. River is flowing high after recent rain. There was minor-moderate flooding two weekends ago which got rid of the three remaining grey nomad campers that had been staying here and sitting out the COVID restrictions.

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Just rolling along on any country road near homes, there will be multiple trees giving a good show.
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Green grass, happy horse, house surrounded by red trees.
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And water in all the tiny ephemeral creeks that spend 9 months of the year dry.
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Happy cows.
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Enough rain that all the low points on the floodplains are full or sloshy and all the dams are pretty full.
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Golden poplars all over as I ride. They are stunning even from a distance. Close up, the smell of the autumn leaves from that tree family takes me back to night rides through crunchy cottonwood leaves in Ft Collins 25 years ago.
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Baby lambs out and about. I’ve been watching these little ones grow from teeny little things a couple weeks ago.
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Green along the roadsides, not just in my handlebar bag. This is only a winter thing in Oz. We’ve had enough rain that the gravel is riding good again, now that it’s got some moisture packing it down and holding it together.
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Lots of driveways are lined with red at the moment. These ones are a little late. Many of the reds are more spectacular than these, but I feel a little funny of taking pics of people’s properties at close range so didn’t get a pic of some of the better ones.

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The red one is in peak but these yellows have gone all silver on top.
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Ovens River at Tarrawingee.
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Along the street where I live. The close green tree is a pepper tree – an evergreen exotic from S. America that was planted as a shade tree a lot during settlement. It’s considered a weed in some places.
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If you couldn’t tell it was autumn by the exotic trees’ leaves, you can tell the season has changed because I’m not wearing my orange short-sleeve fluoro shirt. I’m wearing my yellow fluoro jacket, but with the sleeves pushed up (in winter the sleeves will be down!).

There is good news. It has been one month since the dog attack and my leg is doing well. The upper, shallower wound closed at the end of week 3 and the lower, deeper wound scabbed over in the past few days. It is not infected. It is still hard and lumpy and a bit bruised around the bite site, but it doesn’t impact my life at all now. I am very happy with the rate of healing… my body is slowly getting back on track. I also had a telehealth appointment with my good Melbourne doctor and he has prescribed some artemisinin and myrrh compounds to help the lingering bartonella symptoms that are cyclic with the full moon (yes, I was a bit skeptical at first, too, but it is spot on… I could not pinpoint the sine wave cycle of worsening/lessening of symptoms, but after 4 months of paying attention, by goodness, that is the cycle! It is only appropriate that my wise man has got me on to myrrh compounds).

Restrictions have lifted just enough now in my state that we are allowed to drive places to recreate, as of Wednesday. No overnight trips yet, but I’m excited that I’ll be able to go ride somewhere other than all my local routes that I’m getting a bit tired of – time for some new roads somewhere this coming weekend when good weather, at this point, is forecast!

I’m already looking at the wall map, thinking about where we might go, and disregarding how far behind I am in my coursework and how my weekend should be spent studying instead of riding!

3 thoughts on “Shifting – May Ride 1 – On fire

  • Hi Emily,
    We’re in that Colorado spring – a foot of snow one week, and over 80 degrees F the next week. This week it’s gray with some cold rain. I planted a veggie garden – and crossing my fingers that it doesn’t snow. I have been meaning to write for so long; I think of you often and I love to read of your riding adventures with the guys!! You’re so descriptive and include so many photos that I can imagine being there, seeing the open road, hills, and geological formations, and smelling the eucalyptus and other trees. I’m glad you included the picture of yourself this time – you are looking much healthier and stronger. I’m so glad that you have gotten past the worst of the bad bugs and continue to make progress. When restrictions lift, you’ll be ready to roll. Your photos of trees are just beautiful! How lucky you are to wander through the countryside and enjoy them. Thank you so much for sharing them with all of us!
    With cheer and love, Trudy

    • It is so great to hear from you, Trudy! I will send warm and benign weather thoughts with just the right amount of rain for your garden. It is always good to get outside and dig in the dirt and feel connected to life. Nothing beats fresh veggies straight from the garden for a meal, and I’m sure you will have Hazel learning all the secrets of preserving if you haven’t already. Yes, I’m feeling better and stronger. I’m probably at about 70 percent now and my weight is pretty stable. When I saw you last year I was on a pretty sharp downhill in weight, energy and function. I am determined to claw my way back to at least 85 percent of my pre-illness fitness and hoping to surpass that. I have my sights set on the next tour somewhere around March 2022 when my current contract ends, so I’ll be using this time in between to keep rebuilding strength 🙂 Please stay safe and take good care up there and send through some pics of your garden as it grows! Love, Em

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