Sunday, September 23, 2012

Helene Young: Color of the land

Every landscape has its own color palette. Where I live in North Queensland – that’s the top right hand corner of Australia with the pointy bit called Cape York  – the colors are vibrant and deep. As an airline pilot I have a unique perspective from my tiny office with a spectacular view looking down on those colors. Being able to share my world with readers is very special and something I love to do.

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world, guards our coastline with its white atolls and azure sea.  In Burning Lies one of my characters describes the reef as ‘a rope of freshwater pearls resting on French navy satin.’  I constantly marvel that Captain Cook ever successfully navigated a sailing ship through the reef to discover the great southern continent that became Australia! No satellite navigation in 1770 to help him out J

The dark green of the ancient Daintree Rainforest slides down the flanks of the imposing Great Dividing Range, the mountains that separate the fertile coastal plains from the drier cattle country of the west.  The roads are unsealed red dirt, with deep stretches of shifting bull dust ready to trap unwary drivers. The grasses grow golden in the summer and turn silver with the cold in June. That heralds the start of fire season when the earth becomes charred and black.
On the Tablelands the eucalypts forests turn the silvery undersides of their leaves to the hot sun to help retain water. Looking down on them the forests seem to glisten in the midday heat, a shimmering khaki.

I never grow tired of those colours and love watching the seasons change – although we really only have a wet and dry season in northern Australia. What are the colors of your landscape? Do you recognize them instantly in a photograph? Do they change with the seasons? What are your favourites?

I’d love to hear about your part of the world. Join in the discussion to win a copy of my new release, BURNING LIES. 


“Lies, all lies. It didn't matter how attractive he might be. She didn't really know this man . . . He was living a lie and she didn't know why.

Kaitlyn Scott is searching for the truth about her husband's death, even if that means revisiting the most painful day of her life. But what she uncovers is a criminal willing to stop at nothing to keep his secret.

Ryan O'Donnell, an enigmatic undercover cop, is investigating arson attacks when he is drawn into Kaitlyn's world. He tries to fight his attraction for her, hoping the case might put his own demons to rest, but it only threatens to push him over the edge.

With Kaitlyn and Ryan on a collision course, the arsonist seizes the chance to settle some old scores. As the Atherton Tableland burns, the three of them are caught in a fiery dance of danger and desire, and not everyone will come out alive.

Set in Australia's tropical far north, this is an explosive story of peril and passion by the author voted by the Romance Writers of Australia as the most popular novelist of the year, and by the Australian Romance Readers Association as the most popular romantic suspense novelist two years running.


marybelle said...

I live in SE QLD up on the Darling Downs. I know what you mean about the red soil. We have vibrant volcanic earth here. White school socks always suffered the brunt.

At the moment the town is alive with colour. The Carnival of Flowers is on. People come from all over the world for the parade & gardens. The parks & gardens are just magnificent.

Linda Henderson said...

I live in Missouri in the middle of the USA and we have all 4 seasons here. Although this year the summer seemed to start right after winter because it got hot early. We get the dead look of winter with ice and snow, usually more ice than snow. Then the lovely green of spring when everything buds out and the shrubs and flowers are blooming. Then we come to summer and sometimes the green stays around but this year we were in a drought and everything looked dry and burned up. Then there is my favorite season, fall. When we have had enough rain the trees start turning beautiful colors and the pumpkins and leaves are all different shades of brown and orange. We have had some rain over the last month so fall will be a little better, but not much.

Lory Lee said...

Our country is an island so we're surrounded by the sea. Our city is an islet and is connected to another city via two bridges. Our home is few minutes from the airport so you get to see and hear airplanes passing by. My favorite experience is every time I go to work, often see fairy boats carrying passengers to our "main" city. Cargo vessels/ships, passenger ships and ever private boats often grace the sea below the bridge I'm passing by. The best part of it all, is that every town and cities has their own festivals, so if your a visitor, you'll get your money worth visiting different places. :D

Helene Young said...

Marybelle, I love the Carnival of Flowers! It used to be an annual trek up the range when I lived in Brisbane. We'd stop for a picnic in that wonderful park at the top of the hill - used to have a panorama place in it. I don't know whether that's still there.

Most of my early flying was out of Archerfield and we used to do navigation exercises out to Goondiwindi, Kingaroy and further afield to places like Birdsville. I never tire of the amazing view :-)

Helene Young said...

Linda, having four seasons in the year would provide amazing colours! I have to travel along way south in Australia to experience those... Our capital city, Canberra, has amazing colours in autumn so I can imagine why fall is your favourite season.

I'm sorry to hear you're in drought. I know all too well the hardship that causes...

Helene Young said...

Lory Lee, you live in a fascinating part of the world! There's something exciting about watching boats and aircraft ferrying people on their journeys. I think it's part of why I became a pilot in the first place!!

I love the water so living so close to it must be a wonderful experience for you :-)

traveler said...

I live in the Southwest U.S. in a very historic and unique city. Brown topography,dry air, bright blue skies, intense sunshine, gorgeous sunsets and a mile high with majestic mountains.

petite said...

Life in a moderate climate has given me an appreciation of why I live here. No blizzards, no cold, no ice and very little rain. Out of the cold and into the warmth which is worth the move to the Southern Climes.

Kaelee said...

I live in Calgary Alberta Canada and today we took a trip west to the mountains to see the fall colors. The poplar trees are turning gold , some of the underbrush has red tones and the larch trees are turning gold as well. Larches are a type of coniferous tree that sheds their needles in the fall. The mountains that we traveled trough are grey on the top, green fir trees and gold trees on the bottom with a deep blue sky behind them today. Some of the grain fields we traveled by are straw colored as they are either harvested or ripe for harvest. In the winter a lot of our countryside is white if we have snow or brown if we don't have snow. Spring brings out the green as the trees start to leaf out and the crops start to grow. Every shade of green is there if you look for it. Summer is hopefully green as well as it means we are getting enough rain to keep things growing. I love the part of the world I live in.
One of the best sights we saw today was mountains with fall colors on them reflected in deep blue lakes.

Helene Young said...

Traveler, you region sounds spectacular! Dry air certainly seems to intensify the colours and there's nothing like a stunning sunset!

Helene Young said...

Mild temperatures are so much easier that the extremes, Petite.

In Cairns the summer temperatures sit around 33-35 deg celcius (91-95 degree farenheit), but the humidity can hover around 95 %. It's like a having a wet cloth wrapped around you some days.

Winters are perfect with 16 to 26 deg C (69 to 79 deg F) temperature range, low humidity and clear blue skies. Our guest room is rarely empty over winter :-)

Helene Young said...

It sounds beautiful, Kaelee. I was born in Vancouver, Canada, but came back to Australia when I was still a baby. I'm planning a trip back some time in the next couple of years!

My parents often talked about the wonderful autumn colours and we still have all their slide photos. I love those shots of mountains reflected in lakes. It's so majestic!!

Maureen said...

Hi Helene,
Your home looks and sounds beautiful. I live in Pennsylvania and we do have all four seasons. There are a lot of trees and the Delaware River runs along our town. Right now the trees are just beginning to turn colors and last night there was definitely a chill in the air.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Eli Yanti said...

I'm lived in Indonesia and we only have 2 seasons :)

Lory Lee said...

Oh yes, the air smells great (though salty :D) and we get to eat fresh fishes, shells and etc. And the airplanes are just few meters away from our heads every time they pass us by.

Pat Cochran said...

Our area is mainly green, as in evergreen,
and tan, as in drought! Texas was badly hit
last year by a year-long (?) drought but was
able to recover a bit this year. Would love
to have a chance to enjoy the changing of
colors as happens in our Northeastern USA,
but it was not so decreed!

Helene Young said...

Maureen, Pennsylvania sounds gorgeous. A river adds a special energy to a region and I can imagine how beautiful the fall colours must look!

Helene Young said...

Eli, Indonesia is similar to Northern Australia - The Wet and The Dry are the only two seasons that Darwin and the Northern Territory recognises too!

Helene Young said...

Pat, majestic evergreens always look amazing! Sorry to hear you've been in drought as well... It's so tough watching everything turn brown and struggle for survival...

Na said...

I'm a nature lover and I'm fortunate to live in a place that is full of it. There are so many parks, mountains and beaches within reach. My favorite thing to do in the Summer is go hiking. I can take in all the sights :) I also like reading about other places and appreciate all the descriptions of the land.


Helene Young said...

Na, there's nothing quite as beautiful as nature. It's so intricate, so varied and every day is different. I love hiking but don't have as much time as I'd like to do it. So glad you can enjoy it!!

Marcia Bezuidenhout said...

I live in a suburb about 20 minutes north of Toowoomba, which is situated on the crest of the Great Dividing Range.

Driving up the range from the Lockyer Valley, you are unaware of the natural beauty and charm which is Toowoomba. From the stylish cafes to magnificent gardens and rugged lookouts, Toowoomba is a picturesque city of many colours which is lucky to experience four distinct seasons.

Spring bursts forth in all its glory with Jacarandas in all their splendour displaying their beautiful heads of lilac flowers along with the evergreen Camphor Laurels with their pungent smell and Plane trees lining many of our beautiful City’s streets – with the countdown to the annual Carnival of Flowers, no wonder this is called the Garden City. One of my favorite seasons (I have two), Spring breathes new life into a City coming out of the depths of Winter.

Summer brings with it magnificent storms and rain as well as the hot, dry heat. We are lucky to live in a more rural part of our suburb where, in the late afternoon, sitting out on the verandah of our home, we can be graced with the sight of a lone Roo grazing. When riding on the unsealed roads, the dust rises up to meet you in a red haze.

Autumn (my other favorite) the season which makes us aware of the approaching winter, has its own grandeur, with the leaves on the trees turning all different shades from green, to rust, to gold and crackling fireplaces make our homes warm places of escape from the bitter cold creeping in.

Along with the frost, the Winter season brings with it the most glorious smell of woodsmoke drifting in on the crisp clean air. Although it can be a bit dreary, this is the best time to snuggle up next to a warm fire and enjoy a good book.

Irrespective of the season, the sunsets are spectacular, with all shades of pink, orange and gold displayed over the magnificent azure sky.

Helene Young said...

Marcia, Toowoomba is gorgeous. She's like a well rounded matron overseeing the Darling Downs as it stretches away to the western plains.

I used to fly into the town regularly and loved taking off on a morning when the fog was trying to creep over the range and down into the valley.

And you can't go past the Carnival of Flowers for colour and vibrance :)

Marcia B said...

Yes Helene - I am so glad that when we arrived here 3 years and 11 months ago, the Good Lord chose to place us here. Having lived on the Coast all our lives in South Africa (we're originally from Durban) it certainly was a welcome change. Toowoomba is everything we could have asked for and more.