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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

I like birds.  I really do.  I love to watch them in their natural environment and I especially love spotting unusual-to-me birds.  As spring hits Canada, I know that the sounds of chirping birds must be back in full force.  I saw a robin before I left Toronto last month and for many that first robin sighting truly marks the beginning of the season.

Well, there are no robins in Australia and, as I’ve already lamented, we won’t have an Australian spring for some time.  But there are birds!  Lots and lots of interesting birds.

I tend to look up as I walk through the city.  There’s some incredible architecture in Adelaide and around every corner is a beautiful tree.  Andrew is not the most helpful when it comes to identifying species, though he seems to always know whether it’s a native or introduced tree, but I am happy to admire ignorantly.  Plus, these interesting trees are full of bird calls I’ve never heard before and I like to put a face to the voice, so to speak.

As we were finishing a walk this weekend, we turned a corner and were nearly home when from down a side street came a call I recognised but had never heard in the wild before.

Sure enough, when we adjusted our eyes to the tree’s darkness, we found that it was full of rainbow lorikeets.  Parrots!  That’s something you just don’t see in Canada and I could have watched them for hours.  They were eating berries and flitting from branch to branch and tree to tree.  I can’t tell you what kind of berries because, as previously mentioned, my tour guide is not an expert in Australian flora. 

Many things about Adelaide feel Canadian to me.  Many, many things feel different, of course, but there are so many similarities that if I don’t concentrate too hard I can forget for a while that I am somewhere completely foreign. Peugeots;  parrots; trips to the supermarket: these things serve to remind me that I’m not in Canada any more.

Imagine… parrots!

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 As it turns out, Adelaide is a beautiful city…what a relief! just as I knew it would be.  I haven’t yet decided which Canadian city it most closely resembles but I am enjoying discovering the highlights in my quest to pin one down!

On Good Friday, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day.  I’m sure that my readers in Ontario will have little sympathy for me given the miserable spring they’re enjoying at the moment, but I have been having a hard time coming to terms with winter approaching here in Australia.  It’s very odd to be stepping through crunchy leaves in April.  So, I’m taking every spring-like opportunity I can and last Friday we ventured into the Adelaide Hills for a picnic with a view.

A twenty minute drive East of Adelaide takes you to the hills – a completely charming, rustic collection of hillside villages and country properties.  Once you’re through the tunnels and off the freeway, the windy roads are an awful lot of fun to drive and the views are spectacular.

Mount Lofty marks the hill’s summit with a lookout area and restaurant, a fire-spotting tower and Adelaide’s television transmission towers, of course.  I took exactly two photos of the view as it wasn’t the clearest day for pictures but in person it did give a sense of the area, Adelaide and the coast in the not so distant distance.

There are several parks and sights to see but we ventured into the botanical gardens to find a spot to enjoy our picnic lunch.  By now, the wind was picking up a bit and we’d felt a few rain drops but I was determined to eat outside in the open air. 

So we did.

We settled in the shrub garden and while the grass was a little damp it was beautiful.  I’ve had some fairly spectacular picnics in my life (inside the Colosseum, for example) but I’ve never picnicked surrounded by gum trees full of laughing kookaburra. I couldn’t help but sing the “Kookaburra” nursery song as they laughed around us.  

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
Leave some there for me.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
That’s not a monkey, that’s me!

– Marion Sinclair, 1936

Andrew was surprised this summer when he discovered that the entire Poole family was quite familar with this tune.  An Australian song, “Kookaburra” made its way to Canada and the United States through the Girl Guide movement.  Marion Sinclair was a teacher who worked with her school’s Girl Guide company and “Kookaburra” was first performed in 1934 at an annual Jamboree in Frankston, Victoria.  The Baden-Powells, founders of the Scouting and Guiding movements, were present.

In recent years, “Kookaburra” has been the subject of much controversy in Australia.  Questions about its copyright status and infringement resulted in lawsuits in 2009 and in 2010 Australian primary school director, Garry Martin, asked school children to replace the line “gay your life must be” with “fun your life must be”.  After an outcry that Martin was banning the word “gay” from his school, he stated: “All I was doing, relatively innocently, was substituting one word because I knew if we sing ‘Gay your life must be’ the kids will roll around the floor in fits of laughter.” Right.

When we were finished lunch we walked through the gardens a little (though not extensively… there looked to be a beautiful gully and lots of surrounding hiking trails) and then headed to the car for warmth and a bit of a tour.  Vineyards decorate the Adelaide Hills and South Australia’s fall colours are lovely.

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