Monday, 18 August 2008

the past is a different country...


This picture was taken in the forests east of where I live in the early 1980s. I am the one on the right with a beanie and my hands in my pockets. The tree stump is the remains of E. regnans cut many years ago. The axeman's steps are very clear in this photograph, he cut them, pushed a plank into the highest, stood on it and cut the tree down. The timber would have been used for building, flooring or fencing. This is a relatively young stump. The tallest tree ever measured on the ground in these forests was 425 feet long, and the top was said to have been damaged by lightning. Regnans needs fire to regenerate, but is not epicormic, unlike many other eucalypts.

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Acacias...

It is that time of the year again when the acacia begin to flower. We know it is late winter, and the yellow cheers us up as we go for our daily walks in the scrub in the loacl parks. The acacia seem to be in better humour than they were last year, perhaps because this winter has been colder and a lot wetter than the last. A couple of weeks ago it snowed less than 5km from this park, and for the benefit of northerners, that is very unusual. The eqivalent would be 45C in London. I think this is acacia dealbata, the silver wattle.

The odd thing about this flowering there are very few nectar eating birds about, especially the small ones. The park is called Bellbird Dell, and the bird it is named after are very aggressive and hunt out weaker less aggressive birds. They have, however, a beautiful song with a very pure tone.

I was on my way to the tram station when I saw these trees, and stopped to photograph them.

Notice the colour of the pool under this tree. This is storm water from the park and from neighbouring streets. In summer any remaining water will develope an algal bloom.

These trees seem to flower later the further south one goes. In the northern reaches of the State they would have been in blossom a month before these photos were taken-2 weeks ago-and will flower later in the higher, colder country. The Australian Alps are under a metre of snow at the moment, so it will be October before the acacia flower there.

Close up of the blossom. These flowers have quite as sweet scent. If you are asthmatic, don't stick your nose anywhere near this.
Most Australian flowering plants are great pollinators and some people believe them to be highly allergenic. The pollen is fairly heavy so is not usually carried on the wind, unlike grasses, rye grass is a particularly nasty grass, and so gets up one's nose with some difficulty. Not being allergic to anything, I like acacia, and I like particularly the idea of a movement of yellow across the countryside as the flowering front moves south.

The trunk of these trees is slightly rough, but also quite tough. The bark is thin, and was often used for tanning leather, the timber is useful though not much used.


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timber 2....


This the back of the house now. It is unfinished as yet, it hasn't been clad, although we were plastering the day I took this. Plastering is a trade that requires equanimity, it is designed to test friendships to the limit, and the sound proofing of the building. Fortunately the house is fairly soundproof, the air inside was electric some times.
Sunny winter's day, birch still leaning. There is a simple reason for this tree leaning over. Near the corner of the house was a 30m liquid amber tree, just under the piles of timber in the picture below.
This tree was removed to make room for this extension. The birch had grown up in the shade of the liquid amber, and to get to the light had to grow outwards. Only when the liquid amber was removed did the birch become a problem. Besides it was not a healthy tree, the possums had eaten the top shoots and the tree was dying from the extremities back, the core of the trunk was rotted out, and the roots were intertwined with the remnants of the liquid amber roots, which were removed by this machine.
This is a good way to make mulch.

The north wall of the house is 4m to roof, double glazed and with several layers of wall insulation under the plaster. The large overhang is supposed to shade the wall in summer. We will see. The metal sheet cladding is not on yet. The black lining is 18mm chipboard, painted with bituminous paint for water proofing.
This day a man and a machine pulled up at the neighbour's house.
The sun came out for awhile...
A man began to climb the tree...
Higher...
And then he started his chain saw...
Down came the tree, branches first...
Then gradually the trunk was whittled back...
More and more. The rain had set in by now...
Not much to go...
Going, going...

Gone.

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timber...

This what I have being doing for most of the year, apart from recovering from a broken marriage. For obvious reasons I have left my previous vocation-house husband-and ventured out into some sort of paid employment. I have been the labourer for a friend who took long service leave, and leave of his senses, to demolish the rear of his house, and rebuild it. Demolition took a week as it was hot, work was all by hand, and the section of the house was held together by a large number of nails. There was a dead possum in the ceiling space-if fell on someone's head-and a lot of filth accumulated over the last 30 years. This shot shows the result of the demolition: half a house.
We then built the form work for the waffle slab he was laying. Note the leaning birch over the side fence.
The sab is ready for concrete. 100m2, about 15 cubic metres.

Freshly poured and finished. The concreters did the levelling and smoothing by hand and eye.

Sometime later the framework is up. The birch is still leaning. Next post.....

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