13.8 C
Byron Shire
June 26, 2024

Tracking the cycles of the natural seasons

Latest News

Cinema: Despicable Me 4

With the school holidays fast approaching it’s time to rev up the kids to see the ever-lovable Minions in the first Despicable Me movie in seven years.

Other News

Have your say on Bangalow tree removal/succession plan

Bangalow residents and businesses are being asked for their thoughts on a plan to replace seven trees in the main street (Byron Street) and two in Station Street. 

Daniel Mookhey walks the line with NSW budget

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey's second budget in nine months, unveiled last week, was a classic Labor document in its support for education and health, somewhat brave in its slugging of property investors, and disingenuous in its blaming of the GST carve-up for the financial woes of NSW going forward.

A family football ‘hat trick’ from the Morrisons

Three members of the Morrison family all scored a goal on the same weekend playing for the Mullumbimby Brunswick Valley Football Club (MBVFC), who celebrated it as a ‘family hat trick’ according to club secretary Yari McGauley.

Rising Tide activists head to Justine Elliot’s office with kayaks

Today saw just over 40 people kayak from John Follent Park in Tweed Heads to Faux Park in South Tweed, before walking close to a one km with their kayaks to the Labor Member for Richmond's Office to demand an end to new fossil fuel projects.

MP and Cr call for inclusion of social housing in Ballina

Ballina Shire Council will receive $210,000 through the NSW government’s $100 million Resilient Lands Program to help support the delivery of a range of housing options across the Ballina Shire.

Dirty Three with Eleanor Jawurlngali

New expanses to create. New music to share. The legendary trio Dirty Three are coming to The Green Room, Byron.

A perpetual calendar. Photo Mary Gardner
A perpetual calendar. Photo Mary Gardner

Mary Gardner

A calendar is a traditional holiday gift. The original Latin is linked with Roman accounting systems. So is the practice of counting out months of the year. The first calendar was reformed by Caesar in 46BC and then by Pope Gregory in 1582.

Billions of people tally their lives according to this Christian calendar, one of nine in use today. But apart from these is still another practice in timing: tracking cycles of seasons. The very word ‘seasons’, from the Latin ‘to sow’, is deeply tied to understanding the nature of a place. Here in the coastal subtropics, we shrug off images of any snowy British Christmas and ponder ­replacements.

Tim Entwistle, a botanist, suggests we rethink how we link our experiences of seasons with the Christian ­calendar.

Working with Indigenous calendars and from within the central eastern coast, he proposes five seasons. Autumn, from the first of April is followed by Winter, starting with first of June. This season lasts only two months because August opens with the first wave of native plants blossoming. This is Sprinter, becoming Sprummer on the first of October. The second wave of blossoming begins. The first of December is summer, which goes to the end of March.

From Sydney, Entwistle marks summer with the blossoming of the Hyacinth Orchid (Dipodium punctatum). But Andrew Murray, a northern rivers botanist, suggests our coastal subtropic marker could be the Durobby tree (Syzgyium moorei). This rainforest tree is a type of myrtle unique to this area. It’s a lilli-pilli also called the Christmas parrot tree. Once, people saw flocks of parrots drunk on nectar from these blossoms. The tree has become rare, but maybe the spirit of local gift shopping might include seedlings for those with land enough for nurture a 40 metre tree. The brilliant pink to orange flowers grow directly from the main stem or tree trunk.

Birth of koalas

Adding to such festivities are the births of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Nativities in Byron Bay are even more secret than the fabled one in Bethlehem. New mums will grow tiny infants in their pouches for the next six months. Others may have a half-grown joey on their back. They teach them local lore about managing a home range of trees in the subtropics. The daytime trees are for snoozing. Each evening, they travel to their night trees.

Koala browsing eventually makes a tree’s leaves more toxic. So over the year, they shift their feeding rounds so that half of the trees are ‘rested’ and become more palatable again the following year.

Throughout Byron, people tell of individual koalas they know because they regularly cross paths with them in their daily migrations.

Our koalas’ favourite food trees are those eucalyptus with moist leaves, fed in turn by roots reaching into a shallow water table or drainage channels. In Byron, these are wetland trees, especially from Lilli-Pilli to Tyagarah through Sunrise and West Byron. Maybe koalas dream of hundreds more trees growing up throughout the drain networks. That’s what’s happened for centuries before. They depend on the growth of such wild housing estates.

Meanwhile, in the coastal sea connected to the coastal land, dolphins are also being born. The female blue spotted stingrays are ovulating. They use the sperm they stored from their embraces with males during sprinter. Inside their wombs, they nurture their babies first with yolk and then with a unique form of milk. The pups, miniatures of their parents, are born live.

Symbols of time

As the sea water warms, the leopard sharks return to cruise Byron Bay. They can be our own symbols of Father Time. The Old English and Proto-Germanic/Norse origins of ‘time’ relates to ‘marking the tide, the feast-day, the season’. Also matching this old meaning, spinifex seed-heads tumble across sand into our coastal lagoons.

The solstice on December 21 links place with solar system. In that shortest night, look up. The ancestral people are visible in the Milky Way as the Magellan Clouds, spiral galaxies over 150,000 light years away. On some vast scale of seasons, now they spin closer than ever to us, connected by tides of hydrogen. Beyond, a dizzy 96 per cent of the universe expands with unknowable dark matter.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Do gin and art mix?

  If you’re an artist, and want to win $5,000 for having your art and your name featured on a limited-edition bottle of gin, plus...

The masters of ‘zero to hero’

The masters of ‘zero to hero’ pub rock, The Tenants, are bringing their live show and Aussie humour to Mullum’s Courthouse Hotel for one night only on Thursday, July 4.

Gin with a slice of rainforest

Cape Byron Distillery, the B-Corp certified distillery from Byron Bay has released a gin flavoured with rainforest botanicals carefully selected by the five winning...

Dirty Three with Eleanor Jawurlngali

New expanses to create. New music to share. The legendary trio Dirty Three are coming to The Green Room, Byron.