As I write Canberra is still ablaze, like a Hawaiian Shirt superstore specialising in cheap shirts aimed at the bogan market, with the shocking colours of Autumn's leaves and sunsets.
In a recent, never-to-be-forgotten column I took issue with the commonplace idea that Nature is incapable of ugliness, that we see Nature at her artistic best in the colours of Autumn leaves.
In support of my contrary argument that Nature is capable of aesthetic horrors (especially in Autumn in Canberra) I quoted Evelyn Waugh's description, in his travel memoir Labels, of an especially upsetting Mediterranean sunset. Here it is again, because too much Evelyn Waugh is not enough.
"I do not think I shall ever forget the sight of Etna at sunset; the mountain almost invisible in a blur of pastel grey, glowing on the top and then repeating its shape, as though reflected, in a wisp of grey smoke, with the whole horizon behind radiant with pink light, fading gently into a grey pastel sky. Nothing I have ever seen in Art or Nature was quite so revolting."
I mention this because last Monday's Canberra sunset was one of the most reprehensible I have ever seen.
Just as Evelyn Waugh was unfortunate to have such a good view, from his cruise ship, of the atrocity he describes, I had the misfortune to be walking my dog in a high woodland foothill of Red Hill from which the sunset-painted panorama was inescapable.
"Don't look, Voss!" I counselled my dog (rather as a parent tries to shield a young child from a horrid spectacle). But I needn't have worried because he had his forensic nose glued to the ground, sniffing fragrant traces of real and imagined beings, of kangaroos, echidnas, bunyips, werewolves, poltergeists and Young Liberals.
I do not think I shall ever forget the sight of suburban Canberra at this sunset, suburbia taking on the barbarous tints of a vast sky in which Nature had somehow managed to take the usually inoffensive colours of orange and pink and cream and stir them up into a gibbering fluorescent frenzy dominated by a hue that words cannot properly describe but that was a kind of shrieking tangerine. Nothing I have ever seen in Art or Nature was quite so revolting.
In the olden days, before science and reason interfered with our thought processes, we would have sensed immediately that so weird and distinctive sunset was a portent, Nature warning of an impending catastrophe. Shakespeare's plays, too, are full of meteorological portents.
My great fear (I am at my loom weaving this column on a Thursday, but by the time you read this, ye millions, you will know what befell on polling day) is that the revolting sunset was heralding the re-election of the Morrison government. It was also heralding sideshow national catastrophes including the re-election of Tony Abbott in Warringah and of Zed Seselja in Canberra.
But if that national political catastrophe has not come to pass it may be that this momentous sunset was heralding another tragedy, the death of Doris Day, wholesome goddess to my generation.
"Don't look yet, Vossy!" I begged on Monday evening, as we hurried down from the hilltop, the ever-changing and chameleon sky now even more revolting as Nature indulged herself with a new hue of lurid chartreuse.
But Voss had his nave but investigative nose still to the ground, delighting in real and imagined Red Hill woodland whiffs, of snakes and spiders, of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, of NIMBYs, pixies and skinks.
While I'm sure that Labor leader Bill Shorten wouldn't consciously do or say anything that is politically courageous (he seems the most conservatively calculating of men) his election campaign harping on the need for sweeping, reforming "change" has seemed strangely plucky. His last big public extravaganza, at Blacktown in Sydney on Thursday, took "embrace of change" as its Whitlamesque theme.
He must know, in what passes for his heart (for he is a strangely robotic, AI figure) that Australians have been a most conservative, most change-averse people. The opportunities for change offered us in referendums and plebiscites usually give us the heebie-jeebies.
We've clung fearfully, tenaciously to the English monarchy. We hang on to dull but familiar and safe governments, like the Howard governments of those long Dark Ages (1996-2007), until, like old jumpers, they are just too daggy and moth-eaten to wear any longer.
Here in the ACT we clung (being typically Australian in finding change spine-chilling) to the familiarity of tyranny rather than embrace the change to self-government. And of course in more recent times the fierce resistance to light rail has had so much to do with a fear of this new-fangled 21st century, bristling as it is with unforeseeable changes.
Perhaps Bill Shorten, perhaps with socio-political instincts as acute as my endearing dog's sense of smell, has detected a new Whitlam-era-esque readiness for change in the people. If he's got that right then by the time you read this you may be out with me dancing in the streets.
But if he got it wrong, if with his mantra of "change" he has frightened the nation back into the fossilised embrace of the Coalition, then we saw this coming catastrophe announced in Monday's prophetic sunset.