The Illawarra Flame Tree, and a Storm-Tinged Sky | An Update

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Photos in this post taken by Yours Truly. This is a Illawarra Flame Tree, in South Bank.
Whenever I have to do this - coming back to my blog after a lengthy absence, that is - I find myself abysmally tongue-tied (or should we say pen-tied?). Spare me a moment to groom my literary paws into shape. 

How did this past month or so fare? Well, November was very packed, actually, filled with almost everything else except writing, alas! I will tell you all about it later in the post, but firstly, I want to thank all the sweet writing friends who've contributed guest-posts on Fullness of Joy throughout November; I've really enjoyed the stuff that's been shared by them all, from Bree describing inspiration, Suzannah hitting the nail on the proverbial head about one's reading diet, Emily sharing about who should be the true Hero of your life and story, Clara talking about how friendships are key things in a good story, and Mirriam giving us a good word about how we can be Christian authors without writing cliche Christian fiction. It's been wonderful, and I am very grateful for the help you gave me by filling in for the month!

My plans for NaNoWriMo got shelved around the second week into the month, when I realized the amount of studying I had on my hands if I were to finish my goals for the year. Basically I had two weeks to finish about a dozen PACE's. If you happen to be familiar with the ACE curriculum, you can appreciate the sort of heady challenge that is. I physically dropped everything else I was doing (chores, books, violin, car drives, stories, mops, ipods, sleep), shut myself up in the bedroom and studied full-on late nights till the 26th. It was something of a challenge, but I kept asking the Lord to help me and strengthen me. I love how He encouraged me through His Word, when I felt overwhelmed with that big load of studying, that really felt was quite impossible to overcome. It was from Psalm 18, where David speaks to the Lord and says "By You I can leap over a wall" and "He teaches my hands to make war so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze". It felt like a huge wall but the Lord truly answered my prayers. I felt so giddy by the end of it, but it was a good feeling too. I am thankful.

And yes, I feel a little sad that I didn't do much with my writing during November. But this year has definitely been one of those years where I feel I am meant to be sewing, and not reaping yet. I must be patient! And those goals needed to be done, so I am not too upset! I got a few words written though, which I wouldn't mind sharing sometime on Fullness of Joy, if you all would like. Mostly. . . uhm.  . . back-story. I find it an interesting coincidence of how NaNoWriMo so far has always encouraged me to go back and write backstories, but I guess I always enjoy doing that anyway. It is sort of exciting that I might have a tinsy winsy bit of time during the Christmas break to write a little though. Please pray that that can be so.

We have had storms almost every day now, for two weeks! Mornings are bright and sunny, and hot. Come lunch-time, the air becomes heady and scented with moisture (humidty is on the high range here). By three or four in the afternoon, we're in for a right big storm either through lightening/thunder, lots of rain, some wind or. . . hail.

The day after I finished my study-goals (the major ones, anyway), my sisters and I had an adventure which I thought might be a blessing to share about. Sarah, Mary and I went to an 18th birthday party of some friends with some university students in the lovely big park by the Brisbane River in the city. We all fussed a bit with the cake which Mary baked as we drove the 45-minute drive to the location, as it was boiling hot weather, and we had no ice-pack coolers big enough for the cake and icing to stay cool and intact! :) It was actually that "disastrous" cake that made us decide to drive it to the park, and not take a public transport, because it would be so awkward hauling it about on a bus. We arrived all safe and sound (and cake intact!), and enjoyed the day very much with our friends. It was beautiful, and we had such a wonderful day, spending time together as a group, sharing and having fun together, and just enjoying the beautiful late Spring weather as we celebrated by the riverbank. In November, the urban areas of Australia become a blaze of colour with the yellow of Silky Oaks, purple of Jacaranda's and the red of Illawarra Flame Trees, and South Bank was no exception that day - vivid shades of purple blossom and flame-red Christmas-like trees shed a beautiful aura of giddy heat and summer in the air. Here are some photos :).

That's South Bank, for you - jacaranda blooms, hanging ivy and all!

I love this. . . tunnel? Actually, it is a beautiful jacaranda-shaded walkway that stretches through the whole of the park; you can turn aside to little path-ways leading to cafes, and delightful little restaurants; the river is not far away too. 

beautiful, glorious, purple jacaranda!! 



palm - trees always lend a very tropical/oasis feel to a landscape.


Illawarra Flame Trees are some of the most gorgeous trees we have, I think; and they always bloom brightest in time for Christmas. 



I don't recall ever seeing Illawarra Flame Trees so aflame with scarlet. 





am I the only one to think Illawarra Flame Tree reminds me of the scene in Mirkwood when Bilbo climbs up a tree to breathe the fresh air and sees the Lonely Mountain?

a sampler of a beautiful flower garden

South Bank was all a-deck with the most gorgeous Spring gardens!

a peek- view of the city from the river

There is a moral, I imagine, in these fragile and beautiful flowers, growing hard by the river-bank.
A bit like in Psalm 1 :).

you can take a ferry from here


South Bank, Brisbane (that's Brisbane River, by the by).


the park lawn where we sat with friends, just before the storm hit!

Around three o'clock, we were relaxing on the park lawns, when we noticed the sky grow a little dark with dappled silver-grey clouds, and heard a floating rumble of thunder, like the distant beat of hoofs. It was funny, because we first thought it might be a boat jetting off on the river, and made some light, half-hearted jokes about it. But by the second rumble, we all felt in an almost Queenslander-ish sense of intuition that it would be best to all start saying goodbye and head home. Some of our friends went by bus, others by train, and even one on the ferry. We started on our way to the underground car-park, but first thought to get the left-overs of the birthday cake that we left at the cafe. Just as we emerged from the shop, the heavens sort of opened up, and it began to rain. Like really heavily! We stood under the cover of a Chinese restaurant, as the rain poured down, clutching the sticky cake in our arms, and huddling together the three of us under a small crimson-shaded umbrella against the buffeting rain, laughing at how quickly it all sort of turned from a brilliant summer's day, to a good old' shower.

As soon as the rainfall abated, we headed for the underground carpark, hoping to head home before it got dark, and before the storm was any worse. Therein lies God's wonderful mercies, in how He directed our steps, and I tremble to think of it. How faithfully He took care and guided our steps! The lights flickered in the carpark, and we heard such a loud, thundering pelting of rain above us (or what we thought was rain). We decided to quickly get out of the carkpark in case the electricity went out and we couldn't get through the carpark gateway, and before a real storm hit us and it got late. Just as soon as we passed the gateway (still within the cover of the underground carpark), and by the ticket booth, a lady driving into the safety of the carkpark with her car, which was dappled with scattered crimson-flowers and leaves, flung down her window, and with a somber expression warned us not to get out, shaking her head and fingers. She told us there was a terrible hailstorm outside, with severe storm winds. We parked our car just meters from the exit, and started to pray. It was scary, hearing the thundering of the hail above us and watching the rain and hail tumble from the stairway above us; and at first we attempted to ring our dad but couldn't contact him because of poor signals; then we just looked at each other and knew that even if we couldn't contact our father at that moment of need, our Heavenly Father could hear us and was with us. As we prayed, asking God to protect our friends and also be with us - and help us get home! - many more cars started to drive into the carpark, their cars pretty badly dented and damaged. There was a car that came in with a shattered windshield, and large hailstone-dents all over that man's car (the hailstones were golf sized!) - several came in with shattered window shields, which was quite shocking. As we prayed together, and clung to the Lord in our need, we waited out that storm.

Eventually it calmed down, and the hail stopped. As we were blocking the gateway, we found we had to get out of the carpark whether we wanted to or no; but we were also warned to be careful as there were many roadblocks, fallen trees, and slippery street conditions from leaves, twigs and hail on the ground. As soon as drove out, we saw what havoc the semi-cyclone storm had left in its wake; it was horrible! The beautiful southbank park was  reeling from broken tree branches, fallen trees, tumbled down roadblock-signs; the streets were covered with debris and on the grass huge hailstones lay there for us to see - golf sized on a hot day! The first moments were quite terrifying, as Mary drove and we tried to navigate our way through the city traffic, especially as the storm had left a blackout with no traffic-lights to guide the cars in the storm, and ambulances and fire-brigades often signaling to pass through amid the sardined traffic-jam, because of accidents due to the storm, or blockage of streets for safety reasons (i.e. a fallen tree, or a huge puddle). We kept praying, and we felt the Lord's peace in that moment, knowing He was sending His angels to protect us. Meanwhile Mum, who was near home and didn't know that the storm was so bad in the city (it is always a little different weather-wise where we are), she started praying for us, that the Lord would protect us. We were finally able to get through to Dad, and asked him to pray for us (you can be sure he did!). Eventually, after almost an hour stuck in the city-traffic, watching the reeling effects of the storm, we made it to the high-way where it wasn't so stormy. On the bus-lane we saw all the buses had been put to a halt, to stay out of the storm, and some friends said that got stuck at the train-station, and even within the train compartments themselves, when the storm hit, and had to wait several hours before everything cleared and they finally got home.

Praise the Lord, the storm abated by evening, and everyone got home safe. But it was a pretty dramatic adventure, and my sisters and I (and the whole family) were deeply humbled and thankful by how the Lord protected and guided us in that experience. To think that if we had left the car-park some minutes earlier, we would not have known about the storm, and would have almost have certainly been stuck in the hail-storm when it hit. It was one of "those" storms that happen really suddenly, - one moment everything is beautiful and peaceful and we live our lives blissfully unaware, and then within minutes those things change, and you realize just how needy and vulnerable and weak we all are. How we constantly need the Lord! We need Him when the world seems to speed by in a twit-of-a-twirl of busyness and excitement, yet perhaps we don't always realize how much until such things happen.

And. . . that's Queensland summer weather for you - the sunshine state ;). But praise the Lord, we are thankful for all this rain, because its other extreme is drought, which can effect the city within the very same month. The weather has been cooler now, (as I write this, the weather has grown very hot again). The storms aren't so severe also, which is a blessing. Praise the Lord for His unending faithfulness, and protection through it all.

Meanwhile, I am trying to finish off my last study goal in Algebra this week, and am very much looking forward to the Christmas next week and then the summer holidays. Hurrah! I hope to get back into the swing of things with blogging on Fullness of Joy, as soon as I finish school for the year too. Not to mention letters and emails and the like. I am sure we all know the feeling of the past catching up with our present, and right now that's how I feel with my correspondences; I've slacked so much this year, I have a bit of a job to catch up on. I'm also looking forward to spending more time doing music, playing the violin and singing with my sisters; I love Christmas Carols! I've been keeping up with my driving, so that is really a fun thing.

Randomly, because I like to keep a record of those things, my reading pile this month consists of "Plenilune" by Jennifer Freitag - this is a rich, heavy reading, emotionally-charged book; some of the emotions conjured up, the thoughts that I've been mulling over as I read it, have reminded me of my time reading Jane Eyre! I definitely can't recommend Plenilune to everyone, but I think I will end up with a good honest liking of the book when all is over and done, even if I can't say I am enjoying all the violence in the book so far. We'll see! I also just finished "Golden Daughter" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, which was beautiful, and I totally loved; Anne Elisabeth's novels are wonderful! In the classic vein, I am reading David Copperfield at the moment, which I am heartily enjoying as well. I have been in a right "Dickens" mood this past week, watching the BBC miniseries for "Martin Chuzzlewilt" (that's really good!), and bouncing it off with a trip to the bookstore where I spied the most gorgeous looking collector's edition of "A Christmas Carol". I wish I had taken a photo of it, but it was beautiful.

But of course, when Dickens gets too bleak, I go and watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailers and Billy Boyd's beautiful end credit song, "The Last Goodbye", and that is a wonderful cheer, as long as I don't think too hard about what happens to Thorin and Fili and Kili and everyone *sob*. Oh! I am really so excited for this last Hobbit film (#OneLastTime), but I think I am really sad as well, just with the emotions of this final arc to the story of the characters, it being the last Hobbit/Middle-earth film, etc. I am really looking forward to it, though!

So that's what I've been up to, friends, lately, anyway. 

How about you? What are you most looking forward to during the coming week of Christmas?

4 sweet note(s):

  1. I have never seen a jacaranda or an Ilawarra Flame tree and they are so gorgeous. I was thoroughly enjoying the beauty of your day when you plunged me into the storm. The difference was startling, and the imagery of the flowers contrasted with the hail/wind damaged city. I am so glad you are okay!

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  2. Praise God for your safety through the storm - it must have been scary! O.O

    Funny enough, I am actually in the middle of a post over at Amity about the things I most love about Christmas. :) This year we are looking forward to heading up to Toowoomba for the holiday season.

    Currently, I am reading 'Mary Poppins' and 'Northanger Abbey'. =D

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  3. @wisdomcreates, Esther, thank you so much for your sweet comment.
    I feel embarrassed to say this, but when I checked with my sister she said she didn't think the purple blossom on the Archway to be jacaranda blossoms, though they very much look like them - like the names of the stars, I am bad with the names of flowers and plants and need to improve that side of my general knowledge ;).

    So actually, the kilometre-long walkway awning located in the Parklands of galvanised steel posts are each clad with vibrant magenta bougainvillea flowers, not jacarandas :p. Jacaranda blossoms, which can be seen clad on trees here in the spring, and actually look a lot like the Illawarra flame tree but in purple, look like this: http://www.australianseed.com/shop/item/jacaranda-mimosifolia

    It is funny, but the classic name of the red blossoms is the Illawarra Flame Tree, but around here in every day life we call it the royal Poinciana tree - it was lovely to find out the name of Illawarra Flame because I think it is classic and epic :).

    It was indeed a beautiful day, and then we really "got plunged" as you said into that storm. Yes, we were so thankful for the Lord's mercies and protection! :)

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  4. Emily, yes we were so thankful to the Lord for keeping us safe in that storm - I was a little scared ;).

    Oh, I saw your post! It is lovely. Say have you still to come to Toowoomba? Because if so, we should try and arrange a day to meet up and hang out together! I will email you over the weekend over it!

    I just read the first Mary Poppins book earlier this year, and have the rest of the collection from the library :). They're fun, aren't they? How are you enjoying Northanger Abbey? I read it this year also, and loved it. It is so such a delightful story! Have you seen any movie adaption for it? One of them is pretty good.

    Lots of love, and thank you for your sweet comment, Em darling <3 <3

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