Over Summer, we’re forever monitoring the wind direction. This is new for us. Living in the city, we monitored temperature throughout the day, but wind direction was just a vague acknowledgement that North Winds were hot, and South Winds were refreshing and cool. Also, when the Southerlies came in on the back of a hot spell, it could result in storms.
Here, the wind direction is almost as important as the temperature. The hot Northerly winds in Summer often align with days of Total Fire Ban. This week has been beautiful with temperatures in the low to mid 20’s, and a slight Southerly breeze. This has come as a relief after some days of hot weather with strong Northerly winds. The last month has brought us, on average, at least one high fire danger day per week, with temperatures in the high 30’s and stong Northerly winds. Our greatest fire risk is a National Park to the North of us, so on days of a high North wind, we need to be extra vigilant.
Walking around our boundaries after a high wind – whichever direction it comes from – we always find a lot of bark scattered around the ground. This is because many of our trees are rough-barked. The outer layers of bark hang off in strips, are easily picked up in the wind.
Strong wind just rips strips of bark from the tree trunks, and scatters it around the ground. I still have a sense of wonder when I see the strips of bark where they fall. Sometimes it can look as if someone has had a party, and threw a whole lot of bark in the air like streamers – just to see where they land. Other times, it looks almost organised with bark radiating from a central point, aligned (as in an obstacle course), or arranged at the bottom of the tree from which it came.
When bark is blown from the tree in large sections, the trunk beneath is revealed to be a rich ochre red.
Smaller strips of bark can be carried quite a distance by a strong wind, and we find our walking path covered by scattered bark ribbons.
Fallen bark can be a home for wildlife such as our Jacky Dragon, but also for the insects and small animals that our birds and lizards feed on, so this is another balancing act. How much bark do we move away? How much do we leave in place? What do we do with all that bark, even if we could shift it from where it fell?
I can’t help but think of the beautifully constructed woven bark baskets I’ve seen in photographs. Although I have no idea how to do this, I think our bark would be perfect for the craft with the long even strips with a rich red colour on one side, and a weathered grey on the other. I’m not yet ready to begin weaving baskets, but the idea is percolating at the back of my mind as a future possibility. We’ve certainly got enough bark for the supplies!