Author Archives: inge

niksen

Hammock (1923) by Henri Lebasque. Painting held in the Matsukata collection at the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Japan. Public domain.

My well-earned, long break after months and months of hard work is almost over. ‘Sprinter’ sprang and was over before I realised it and even ‘sprummer’ is now almost over.

Apart from spending time with family visiting from overseas, I’ve been relishing doing nothing. I had a stack of books to read and a list of things-to-do-when-I-have-more-time, but I seem to have accomplished hardly any of it. And I don’t feel guilty about it.

One thing I did do, however, was finally catch up on the ‘news’ that, after the Danish hygge and the Swedish lagom, there’s a new loan word on the block: the Dutch word niksen. Just as was the case for hygge and lagom, there really is nothing special or unique about either the word or the concept. It’s a verb derived from the word niks, ‘nothing’, and it’s been around (in Dutch) since the 1950s. Some articles seem to imply that niksen is a Dutch concept, which is a bit silly. What is dolce far niente? Or smelling the roses? And, as some of the articles I read point out, the Dutch aren’t that great at doing nothing either. Anyway, I’m all for promoting the benefits of doing nothing but you don’t have to call it niksen to practise it, and doing nothing doesn’t have to literally mean ‘doing nothing’ either …

Not that it isn’t fun to learn a new word in a foreign language. My favourite is still the Japanese word tsundoku. If I can believe what I read on the internet …

Le Pradet, young woman in a hammock (1923) by Henri Lebasque. Painting held in a private collection. Public domain.

changing seasons

636px-Pierre_Bonnard_Landscape_of_Cannet,_White_Trees_1940

Landscape at Le Cannet, the white trees (1940) by Pierre Bonnard. Painting held in a private collection. Public domain.

The first of March is officially the start of autumn Down Under, but here we are, trying to keep cool in an ‘unseasonal’ heatwave. Perhaps a sign of things to come? Or, perhaps we’re still looking at our seasons from a misguided European perspective? Or, perhaps both.

This year, in our garden at least, I will start using the five-season system proposed by Tim Entwistle, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria, based on his look at nature around him and on the fact that Indigenous communities around this country apply varying categorisations of the seasons.

This is what our five seasons look like according to Tim Entwistle on his blog, Talking Plants:

[Our] seasonal year starts with sprinter (August and September), the early Australian spring. That’s when the bushland and our gardens burst into flower. That’s also when that quintessential Australian plant, the wattle, is in peak flowering across Australia. Next is sprummer (October and November), the changeable season, bringing a second wave of flowering. Summer (December to March) should be four months long, extending into March when there are still plenty of fine, warm days. Autumn (April and May) barely registers in Sydney but further south we get good autumn colour on mostly exotic trees, as well as peak fungal fruiting. Winter (June and July) is a short burst of cold weather and a time when the plant world is preparing for the sprinter ahead. [my bolding]

The new words ‘sprinter’ and ‘sprummer’ are so-called blend words, respectively of ‘spring + winter’ and ‘spring + summer’. So far, these words have not made it into our dictionaries yet. Let’s see if they will catch on …