Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Everybody knows Tasmania is supposed to be cold, wet and miserable. And for a few weeks every year -- let's be honest -- yes, you get that.

They're not weeks-on-end sort of weeks. They're more like two days here, three days there, a day or two of brightness in between, then another three days. That kind of thing.

But when they happen around now, in the darkest part of the year when the sun doesn't even show his bastard face until 0730 or so... yep. Doldrums.

Cold, wet, grey and miserable yesterday. Elder Son and I extended his studies of poetry and poetic technique by going over Edgar Poe's "The Raven", which fit the mood of the day nicely. Changed my opinion of the poem, too -- I always thought it was an extraordinary work in terms of rhyme, rhythm and structure, but going over it closely has made me recognize the alliteration, imagery and symbolism in the piece as well. It's very, very clever writing -- still too mannered to make me feel the grief and depression it is intended to embody -- but such a carefully structured, minutely thought-out piece of work is remarkable and admirable in its own right.

Couple of visitors in the evening -- a fine young medical student that the Mau-Mau instantly adopted as her Flirt Target for the evening (it's scary to watch a three-year-old do that. How instinctive is this stuff?) and Dr C. We killed the odd bottle of wine, ate a hearty tomato and veg soup with pasta and spiced meatballs, finished off with home-made profiteroles (chocolate and coffee liqueur sauce), played a few games...

... but it was still wet, cold, grey and miserable when it was time to get out of bed this morning. And I've got a long afternoon and evening of martial arts to come.

Only one thing for it: order another twenty litres of bulk port from Grant Burge Wineries!
(Hint: the trick is to order twenty litres for about a hundred bucks, then put it into your own oak cask with maybe a half-litre of brandy as a what-the-hell addition. Six months later, it's brilliant. Three years later, if your port consumption isn't too brutal, it's absolutely astonishing.)


  1. Why is it that every time I hear so much as a mention of 'The Raven' I have a vision of the Simpsons version with Raven Bart saying 'Eat My Shorts!'?

  2. Now multiply that day by 6 months and you're in Michigan.

  3. Yeah feeling the same oppressive SADs over here in deepest darkest Otago too. Dark when we get up, dark when we get home. And COLD. Those glorious long twilight evenings of summer seem a bloody long way away right at the moment.

  4. As a kid all I ever knew of Tasmania was what I learned from Bugs Bunny cartoons. I always thought it was this wild scary place where Tasmanian devils would kick your ass at the drop of a dime.

    I love to read your more accurate descriptions of it.

  5. Man I love the raven and I love that the simpsons brought it to kids that might never touch Poe, ever.
    I don't think I'll trade my hot humid summer for thos two weeks mate.

  6. I always though you had to be in the sea to be in the Doldrums.

  7. Barnesm, It flashed through my head as well..lol

  8. Pfeh. Oceanic doldrums; who fears them? I'm having my mid-winter Tasmanian doldrums, and be damned to you!