Summer is here and with it comes the sweltering heat. Australians know a thing or two about the extreme weather that prevails during the summer months. We are a country that seems to have a long history with deadly heatwaves, too.
I remember as children we were almost immune to the extremes of summer weather. We trudged home from school, hot and sweating, but knowing at the end of our trek either an ice cold drink or homemade icy pole would be our reward. Then we went straight back outside to play and have fun.
If we were old enough, we went to the creek or to the local pool or to the beach. If not, it was into our bathers and under the sprinkler on the front lawn. After 20 minutes or so, we’d go inside wet and shivering, and covered in dead grass. When we warmed up, we’d go back outside and do it all again.
The only air-conditioning we had in those days was an open window and on nights when the heat stayed long after the sun had set we pulled our mattresses on to the floor where it was cooler and slept close to the open window, hoping a slight breeze would spring up.
As we got older, it seemed the heat affected us more. A hat and a wet hanky around our necks seemed to help the body cope with the extreme heat if we had to go outside. Inside, we sat in darkened rooms watching the cricket on TV with a wet towel draped across our knees.
Life got more complicated when we had to keep our babies cool. A shower curtain was laid out on the lounge room floor and the baby bath with a few inches of warm water and some bath toys was a favourite for the little ones. At nap times and bed times, a fan in the corner was usually enough, but sometimes the heat was so stifling and dry that it needed a little help. A cloth nappy, soaked in cold water, then rung out and pegged to the front of the fan, provided enough cooling moisture to help our bubs with their sleep.
Life is so much simpler now. Mum or dad picks the kids up from school and drives them home in air-conditioned cars. Inside the house, air-conditioning provides climate controlled comfort and we only need to think about the weather when the power goes out.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I look back and think, yes it was harder, but sometimes, harder is more fun.