Colours of Clarence: Damn I love this place
THERE'S no better time of the year than early autumn I reckon. If I could freeze time and stop the seasons from changing, I'd press the pause button right now.
Those dastardly, energy-sapping nor'easterly winds of spring and summer are replaced by crisp, clean westerlies, and the humidity and the mozzies evaporate.
Sure, there's a chill in the air, but it's nothing too drastic just yet.
The ocean repaints itself a regal Pacific blue - a million diamonds scattered across its surface to catch the morning sun.
The river stays sublime and glassy for longer through the day - especially close to the southern bank.
It's like water and air decide to put their differences behind them.
Forget spring cleaning, autumn pulls out all the stops when it comes to seeing the Clarence Valley at its best. Though we still get welcome rain, the cooler air of autumn holds less moisture than the humid atmosphere of warmer months, and as a result, everything is sharper and clearer to behold. (A simple test: next clear, chilly night, turn out the lights, go out into the backyard and look up at the stars).
With clarity comes colours and contrast. And there's no shortage of vivid visuals here, everywhere you look.
Let's start with black and white. Some examples are so vivid it makes you wonder if nature has called in a design consultant. The whitest of white egrets keep company with the blackest of black cows out in the paddocks.
You can't miss this pairing of bird with beast as you drive around the Valley. I always wonder how the birds assign themselves to the cows, like, does the same egret hang out with the same cow from day to day?
Is there a morning egrets' planning meeting where cows are allocated? Is there a roster system? Is it every bird for itself? Or does the cow choose the bird? Are there auditions?
Possibly I might be overthinking this.
So much for the monochrome, how about some colour?
Well you don't get more colourful than a rainbow, do you?
If there's a rainbow season, this must be the time. And if there's a rainbow region in Australia, then surely the Clarence Valley lies at the heart of it. I don't think I've ever seen so many rainbows as I've seen this last month or so.
We've all seen the magic of a double rainbow - one sitting on top of the other in perfect balance - but driving to work last week I saw two different rainbow fragments converging to make a slightly unnerving, wonky, asymmetrical thing. Like a child's imperfect rainbow drawing blown up to life size.
Despite my firm atheist convictions, the thought occurred to me that perhaps God had been crafting so many Clarence Valley rainbows lately he let his guard down on the quality-control front and this rainbow reject slipped through the net.
The autumnal festival of bright colours isn't just limited to the world of divine nature though. A human spectacle of the spectrum can be observed in supermarkets across the Clarence Valley every Monday, at around 6pm.
It's the weekly parade of highway and bridge workers, decked out in their hi-vis finery, gamely doing their weekly grocery shop. These blokes may know their way around road building and heavy machinery, but many of the younger players look pretty lost in the aisles of a Spar or Coles. A work colleague commented that she'd rather not shop on a Monday night anymore, as the sight of these bewildered lambs drifting from aisle to aisle pulls too hard on her maternal heartstrings.
It's a good thing they're in hi-vis gear, as they can be gently rounded up at closing time and herded out to the supermarket carpark.
But back to the natural world.
Early this morning I was pondering if there was enough merit in a few observations about egrets and rainbows to merit a column.
I was returning home from the beach with yet another massive rainbow spanning the landscape ahead of me. A flock of birds flashed and shrieked across the road, not 2m from my windshield - their colours were astonishing. Illuminated, saturated by the same sun that was fuelling the rainbow.
I had to laugh. Rainbow lorikeets, flying under a giant rainbow.
Colours of the Clarence indeed. Damn I love this place.
Get your copy of 52 Discoveries in Our Big Backyard. This fun little book is free and available at information centres, cafes, holiday park and other places humans tend to gather. Call 6643 0800 and council can send one out to you.