Following the Fluff: Taking a Walk through Springtime

There is a moment in Canberra springtime when the fluff arrives. Not the silky eiderdowny fluff of ducklings and cygnets or the “blow it away” magical fluff of stray dandelion clocks but a storm of whirling whiteness misting the air, gathering in drifts of cottony softness on grassy verges, catching in branches, lodging in spider webs and frosting the calm water of canals.

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Those of us who studied at the Australian National University (albeit decades ago) notice our hearts beating a little faster as the first fluffy wafts appear. Somewhere buried deep inside us is a sense of panic – an essay unfinished, a textbook unopened and doom just around the corner. The wisdom was that if you had not started preparing for examinations by the time the fluff was floating, you were in big trouble. Nowadays I have no exams and I am free to follow the fluff.

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And so I stroll around the lake through intermittent gusts of lint and relish this iconic phenomenon in our city. Swags of snowy mohair snagged on twigs and branches, ducks bobbing on a fuzzy white counterpane, billowing piles of kapok on footpaths and lawns, wisps tangled in blossoms and bushes and there in the branches of cottonwood trees is new fluff waiting to accost us.

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As I follow this fluffy trail I notice other things: a pair of pelicans sailing close to the wetlands, dark crimson clover stitched in the grass, a smattering of sunshiny yellow flowers, peach pink buds about to burst, a patch of pure blue sky through leafy branches, a police boat speeding across the lake…

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I am free to follow the fluff and it takes me on a walk through springtime…

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© Anita Patel, 2015

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