Hot in the city
It’s been a tad warm in my home town this month.
Adelaide as long been described as the driest city, in the driest state, in the driest continent. This summer has seen no exception to that description.
Having said that it has been an unusual summer, even by Radelaide’s standards.
Yep this city decided to go out and recreate the fires of hell with the peak of the heatwave breaking an 80 year old record as the mercury rose beyond 46C.
Needless to say this is a weather record that I really don’t want see broken again for a little while.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it meant the last two weeks of high temperatures saw any chance of writing going out of the window.
On our record breaking day and even with the air conditioner going full tilt, the creative impulse just dried up. It became even worse when the power went off at 10.30pm that night at the slightly cooler temperature of 35C. If the brain wasn’t fried at that point (and it wasn’t overly happy) it certainly melted after that.
Cooler climes have now mercifully returned and being a long weekend I have been able to squeeze in a couple of writing stints, although not enough to make up for the lost time.
So the #100DaysOfWriting challenge mark II has had somewhat mixed results this month.
It hasn’t been, I am pleased to report, all doom and gloom. The first two weeks of January, saw some progress before the temperatures soared,with a significant milestone met when the WIP passed the 10,000 word mark.
Another step forward, was trying new ways to squeeze in writing time. For the first time ever I started writing first thing in the morning before heading off to work. Before the weather kicked in, along with nights of little sleep, this approach helped build a slight bit of momentum up and it is something I am actively trying to get going again.
With the new year and new approach, I started using a hard copy notebook again, so I can more readily capture those moments of inspiration, before they flew away. This was also a helpful part of the process and it seemed that finally I might be getting into some sort of groove, then disaster struck…
Family commitments, hectic days at work and a virus started to play havoc with the routine. The advent of the hot weather was the final straw and the momentum was once again broken. Another case of one step forward and two steps back.
After this latest round of frustration and self-flagellation, which is I am fast learning is part and parcel of the writing life; the words are thankfully flowing again.
So having been impacted by the weather and as the Australia Day long weekend comes to a close as I write; it seemed appropriate to reflect on summer life Down Under. I don’t know about you but every time I think about this particular season, more than any other, childhood memories come to the fore.
I suspect that in coinciding with the long school break it is a time that speaks of being carefree.
Looking back, a picture unfolds of days at the beach; of bikinis, salt water, the hot sand between your toes and looking for starfish among the rock pools. If it wasn’t the seaside, there were pool parties either in your backyard or at the neighbours’ and where one learnt to swim armed with Floaties.
In the rare moments you were inside, the TV was all about the cricket or tennis. During the breaks, if the weather allowed, you would be back outside emulating your heroes by bashing the tennis ball against the wall or a hit of totem tennis. If there were enough of you around, it would be a quick innings of backyard cricket.
It was a time of BBQ dinners, lime cordial, dixie ice cream cups (complete with little wooden spoons) and Sunnyboys. In fact now that Violet Crumbles and Pollywaffles are coming back into our lives, I feel the need to start a campaign to bring back Sunnyboys. Those orange frozen triangles along with their dairy version – Snips – were a fabulous way to beat the heat. Kids you don’t know what you are missing!
Despite Mum applying layers of sun screen all over me I still managed to one major sunburn each summer. If that wasn’t enough, my teenage years saw myself and school friends eagerly sitting along the balcony of Gillam Building trying to tan our legs. I think it was the only time we were quite happy to wear our school straw hats. Despite all efforts, including an attempt at fake tan, my legs stubbonly remained either lily white or bright red.
So far my skin seems to be OK against such moments, but for how long I fear. Those South Australian and Northern Territory youthful summers are a key reason why I now try to avoid being out in direct sunlight at the peak of the day.
There were times when the Adelaide and Alice Springs summers of my youth were at times too endless, like last week’s heat.
Despite enduring days of 40 plus heat with no air conditioned cars (something I am actually facing again this summer), resorting to fans to keep the house cool and tiled floors usually a more attractive mattress than your own bed at night; we somehow managed to survive.
Australia is certainly a land of contrasts and summer is the season that illustrates this best. Away from the benign, lazy golden days that we love it also brings bushfires, droughts and flooding rains. They are the ferocious part of an Australian summer.
Our summers are certainly legendary for all the right and wrong reasons and I am glad that it has been such a spectacular part of my life. Despite it often not being a great time of the year to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, there is certainly something about it when she sparkles back at me across the page or screen.
Photo credit: Catherine Boomer, a fellow traveller in the writing process. You can follow her journey at https://catherineboomer.com