Some places are easy to love, admire and enjoy. Their beauty and warmth is apparent and responsive to your presence. Their climate, people and easy acceptance of travellers, creates a good feeling in you so that naturally, you want to love them back. Perhaps its also because they fulfil the promise or expectation you had when you started planning your visit.
Other places can test your ability to appreciate and love them. Their first appearance can be cold and unwelcoming. Take Canberra for example, the national Capital of Australia.
It’s climate can be challenging-searingly hot in summer and icy temperatures in winter. It’s people? Well I have to say in comparison with most other Australian cities, they can come across as insecure and not that friendly. Is it because most residents are here for their careers and plan on moving on after a certain time? Or does the climate produce that affect? But when you look under the insular facades, it can be surprising what you find. You could compare Canberrans to their houses; mostly plain on the outside but its surprising what you can find within. Seemingly conservative, you might be surprised to discover the colourful past and visionary dreams of its inhabitants. Well-educated people who speak a range of languages, have lived in other countries and developed ideas about and ideals for a future Australia, who for now are working within a system which asks different things of them.
When you visit a place like this regularly, as I do, you have to change your perception and delve deeper to find its hidden beauty. Though a planned city and the seat of Federal government, in some ways the place is just a large country town. Its the proximity to nature that does it, the bush is at your doorstep and with that, its inhabitants.
Wherever you go in the city, if you look up, you’ll see the Mountains, the Brindabella Ranges that surround the town, Black Mountain and Mt Ainslie in particular. Insolent cockatoos and magpies, quintessential Australian birds, are found in the heart of the city and each of its suburbs, acting as if they own the place and you are the intruder! Well, you can’t control nature, only appreciate it.
For me, its these birds that form a large part of the hidden beauty of the capital; and the trees who reflect every seasonal change with resilience and dignity. Seasonal change is a large part of the Capitol’s appeal which is celebrated each September in “Floriade” , a display of cold climate plants such as tulips and daffodils.
While this colourful display attracts visitors and locals who rejoice in the end of winter, I prefer the light and colour of a particular Leonard French window at the National Library. Over the years I have been visiting this city, I have come to appreciate its jewelled capacity for reflecting the colours in the spectrum of light. It’s at its most beautiful on a clear winter’s day, streaming light into the Bookplate Café, bringing warmth and joy for your appreciation.
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