Another sizzling day in the mountains, the sky cream-blue, smoke from the fires still slow-burning in the National Park. The fires aren’t out, they are making their way through inaccessible country, a land of gullies and ridges. You can see it on Google earth, the folded country, the crinkled terrain, traversed by fragile pale lines – the narrow sandy or rocky tracks. The folds of the land are like waves, beaten down and eroded by the scrape of glaciers long ago, then by a great sea – and now the dry winds whittle out the shapes, the canyons, caves, the overhangs. Our houses trail along the ridges, small and fragile, a trail of litter, lapped by those great waves.
Heat is coming into the day now and cicadas are in full, strident song; they chant in unison, they speak with one voice, and the dogs, lying in the heat seem uneasy, ears vibrating with these chiming chants.
Cicada are still emerging, busting out the backs of their glassy shells, then crouching in the lower branches of trees, wings folded, bulging red eyes seeing this new world of heat and light.
Because of the smoke, all the world has a bluish tinge, seen as though through water. The soft limbs of the scribbly gums are blue-white, the leaves of the trees blue-olive.
Outside is a smell of burning eucalypts, and inside, the smell of burnt toast.
The colour of dreams
I segue into thinking about the colour blue, the attraction of blue, the bowerbird and his collection of blue playthings – pegs, lids, twine, ballpoint pens. He tends to favour dark blues, royal blues, but closer to the bower is a layer of pale yellow things – straw, dead leaves, cicada cases, dried yellow flowers.
Sometimes dozens of sulphur-coloured cockies’ crests appear. Where does he get all these crests from, does he go around scalping cockatoos?
His sparkling eye is violet, the sun reveals his feathers as blue-black, as indigo, as midnight blue.
My Book of Symbols says blue is the purest of colours, everything sinks into it and vanishes. Blue is other-worldly, the night-sky blue is the colour of dreams.
Check out my favourite painter, Victor Rubin’s delicious ‘A Woollahra twilight’.
More Victor Rubin works here.
Victor Rubin’s work was collected by Patrick White and Manoly Lascaris. His ‘So why are we here?’, a scene of broken bodies and urban decay, was hung directly opposite visitors’ chairs in White’s house at Martin Rd.
Books with blue covers
Indigo, a collection of short stories of the supernatural by Bengali author Satyajit Ray.
Storm and Honey, poetry by Judith Beveridge. See ‘Rain’ a favourite poem.
New Selected Poems, Robert Gray, my favourite poet. Images of the coast, the Hawkesbury, beaches, the sea.