I've been in Sydney with my darling sister and her youngker the last two weeks, having abandoned Tim in Lalorland where he's kept Harriet and Bea Cat in the comfortable lapitude to which they've become accustomed.
I moved from Sydney to Melbo eight years ago, in February 2007. At the time I'd been appalled that despite Melbourne's being 900km closer to the Antarctic, its temperature that Summer was regularly 12ºC hotter than Sydney's. "At least it's not humid," people would say as north-west winds sucked at their eyeballs, and I was all like "Bah! Of course it's not humid! You've been in life-endangering drought for the last ten years. There hasn't been a cloud over this city for eighteen months." (Finally Autumn kicked in and everything was lovely, and then – some years later, after the apocalyptic fires of 2009 – the drought broke and everything was even lovelier.)
But hanging in Synny for two weeks in February, the subtropicalliest month of Sydney's calendar, has made clear to me how much I've come round to the whole Mediterranean climate thingo that Melb's got going on. Because sweat behind the knees, actual puddles gathering in the crook of my arm, really not my thing.
The rainy warm wet warm rainy not-too-warm rainy clime makes for lush green rampant life. And it also makes for rampant abundant glorious multiple-generations-in-one-season fruit fly. Which is perhaps why Sydney is not full of backyard fruit while Melbers is.
Having said that, every day on the walk to my nieceling's school, I've been helping myself to a small handful of these ladies:
The lilly-pillies of loveliness! They're a bit Granny-Smithesque in their sweetness/tartness combo, juicy and abundant and apparently fruit-fly free.
The lilly-pillies are in the Syzygium genus, part of the Myrtaceae family that includes the eucalypts, feijoas, and other fluffy-flowered indigines of the once and former Gondwanaland:
Much fancied by bees.
And there are these, my old friends the bunyas:
The cockatoos have been systematically dismantling the bunya cones, dropping half nibbled nuts for the brush turkeys of Turramurra to tidy up, and dropping the odd un-nibbled nut for me to gather.
Last year's Festival of Eating My Bodyweight in Bunya Nuts got old well before we'd actually eaten our bodyweights in bunya nuts. We gave bunya nuts to beekeepers and bunya nuts to people in pubs and bunya nuts to colleagues, and still we had bunya nuts. This year I've amassed no more than 12 of these little fellows, which I think may be close to the perfect quantity for a person who already lacks not the carbohydrates.
Finally, on the bounties of Sydney's wild life, check out (if you can) these teeny native stingless bees (Tetragonula carbonaria) living in a terracotta drainage pipe not two metres from the entrance to my niece's school. They're fond of the humidity and warmth, obvs., and thrive up north while they won't survive in Melbers.