It’s that time of year again – the frenetic holiday season where everybody runs around like a cut snake to celebrate… something. It’s no coincidence (as I’m sure you all know) that all the major religions have a festival that pretty well coincides with the Northern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice. Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Saturnalia, Sinter Klaas, and many others. Basically, they celebrate the end of winter and the return of the sun and focus on light, food, and family and friends. So whatever your beliefs, enjoy the day however you celebrate.
Here in Australia, of course, we’re having the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and although we don’t usually celebrate the height of summer, this year I think Peter and I won’t be the only ones breathing a sigh of relief. The whole world knows our entire continent has been drought-stricken for most of the year. The fuel load has built up in forests which have evolved to need fire to reproduce, and late spring and summer arrived with a fiery blast. Bush fires (far too often deliberately lit) have devastated communities in every state.
My heart goes out to those people who have lost everything – homes, pets, stock, their livelihoods – on the eve of the Christmas holidays. I have nothing but admiration for the fire fighters, many of them volunteers, who risk their lives to fight the flames. There have been deaths – to my mind, amazingly few. Let’s all hope it stays that way. Vast swathes of territory have been burned and are still burning. Only Gaia can put them out.
And at least there’s hope she’s listening.
The positive Indian Ocean Dipole is all but finished and the negative Southern Angular Mode is coming closer to neutral so we finally have a chance of normal rainfall patterns coming soon. The model below is for 31st December. Bring it on.
A large storm moved through our area overnight, bringing much-needed rain to parched areas. We’re happy for the 4mm in our rain gauge – and also happy to miss out on damaging winds and hail. In Australia it’s so often about extremes.
On a personal front, Pete and I came back home from a three-week trip to Vietnam and Cambodia about a week ago. As so often has been the case with us, we came home sick with probably a form of Asian flu. We’ve been to the doctor and things are finally starting to look up on the health front so I’ll be writing my thoughts about the journey. It was fascinating. A mix of modern history associated with the Vietnam war and the Killing Fields, and much older history with places like Angkor Wat, Hue’s Citadel, and Hoi An old city. We visited the incredible Ha Long Bay and drove over the mountains at Da Nang. And we visited villages to see how ordinary people live. It was rather like visiting a country undergoing an industrial revolution, with all the challenges associated with such a paradigm shift. Especially when you’re a privileged Westerner with all your prejudices and sensitivities. Some of our experiences at a very ordinary level were quite confronting.
I hope you’ll come along with me as I relive our journey. For now, wassail, bottoms up, cheers and all that. Merry Christmas.