Summer Adjustments – and Bugs!

The seasons are changing here in Melbourne, and at last I’ve been able to shed the thermals and roll the heaters aside. Some mornings are still nippy, and every few days the temperature drops just to remind me that Spring is, after all, a transition between winter and summer, and we’re not quite there yet.

I’ve discovered a new joy in gardening. I have some herbs and lettuces growing in pots on my veranda, and the first crop of alfalfa sprouts on my kitchen counter is almost ready to add to my next salad. Winter bedding has been squashed into top cupboards and summer clothing pulled from storage tubs and aired. The ceiling fan has been dusted off, windows have been creaked open…

…and new bugs have found all the gaps in the screens to creep through and surprise me!

Some of my windows don’t open – warped wood, or too many coats of paint over the years have seen to that – but enough of them open to provide a cooling breeze. In addition to the view, another advantage of living on the top of a rise is that there is always a breeze.

In South Africa, the cottage I lived in for most of my last fifteen years there was cut into the bank of a hollow – not unlike a Hobbit house, although not as picturesque – and very few breezes ruffled my curtains. This was compounded by Durban’s consistently extreme humidity.

Here, my cottage is one of those old-fashioned Australian weatherboard bungalows built on stilts with slatted storage space underneath. Over the years, my landlord has dumped stuff under there, and even though weeds have grown up and obscured some of it, the wind blows through the slats (which may be one of the reasons why my floors are so cold in winter). Who knows what might be taking shelter in that crawl space for the rest of the year? No doubt time will tell.

My standard arrangement with all creepy crawlies is that they can have the outside, but the inside is my territory, because I pay rent for it and they don’t. However, despite being outside, my veranda (the only solid concrete and brick section of the foundation) is still part of my rented cottage, so snails and slugs will be severely dealt with if they come close to my lettuces. In the warmer weather, I have begun to claim this as my territory, with the acquisition of a few pieces of furniture, pot stands, more chimes and a large citronella candle to keep the bugs at bay.

Bugs must please keep away from my car as well because it’s mine. Three months ago I finally got myself a car and gave my brother-in-law his old car back. He found this one for me online and checked it out before I bought it. I love it so much because it’s small, zippy and not unlike the last car I had in South Africa. The only real difference? Instead of blue, it’s pink!

I love my life here in Australia. I sit on my veranda and dream about the lives of my characters in my (much interrupted) novel. Birds chirp, and bigger birds swoop down to chase my cat Valentine if he gets too close to their trees and nests. And rightly so – he’s in their territory out there.

His sister Galadriel doesn’t seem to want to go outside. She prefers the comforts of her home. Perhaps she knows the difference between her territory and that of others.

The other day my landlord cut the grass right up to the far fence because, he said, his wife doesn’t like snakes. He must’ve seen the look on my face because he grinned and said, “You don’t like them either?”

Too muted by terror, I shook my head. Living out in the country may have its drawbacks after all…

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6 thoughts on “Summer Adjustments – and Bugs!

  1. Sounds perfect! I’m so glad you have found a lovely cottage to call your own. I consider you might be south/east somewhere? I really should email you. To connect.and your car? I like it. It’s pink but subtle? Cheers,H

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    • Yes, I’m in the southeast. I won’t put my email address here, but if you click on the Contact Me button above it will come to my email inbox and I can email you back. 🙂

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  2. What a beautiful veranda you have that looks perfect for summer lounging. Our weather finally took a turn for more seasonal temps and a first snowstorm of the season arrived Sunday. By late yesterday afternoon, 90% of the white stuff had melted and we’re back in the 60’s. Love this time of year for its diversive weather and beautiful golden light. Enjoy your cute little car! Hopefully you won’t have any slithery visitors any time soon.

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    • No slitherers yet! Warmer weather has been a long time coming but now it’s here and gorgeous! My ginger cat has even been coaxed outside on rare occasions. I also have a working (albeit noisy) aircon unit that is wonderful on really hot days and nights. Hopefully your weather will be warming up again soon…

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  3. I had a horror of snakes but I have come not be scared, respect them and keep away when I see them. We have rattlesnakes up here, from May until they hibernate. I had no choice but get used to them!

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    • I don’t think I could deal with rattlesnakes – you are braver than I am! Australia has some quite nasty creepy crawlies, but fortunately I haven’t met too many of them yet.

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