I drew the curtains of our bedroom window recently and was surprised to see a large, golden ball hanging in the sky just above the horizon, making everything in our garden look bright and cheerful and casting long, dark shadows towards the house.
It took me a moment to realise what I was seeing, because I had only just woken up, and at my age the brain takes rather longer to get going than the rest of me. But then I heard a distinct click somewhere inside my head and I knew instantly that what I was looking at was the sun, an object we haven’t seen much of during the last few months. I could even feel a little warmth on my face, so I knew it had to be the sun, nothing else could do that!
In fact the winter we’re just starting to leave behind was about the harshest we have experienced in all of the 30 years we have lived in Australia. It was much more like one of the English winters we had left behind in fact, something we had hoped we would never have to experience again!
Oh, I know, it wasn’t that miserable really, it just seemed so to bodies like ours, that had become fully acclimatised to the wonderful ‘Mediterranean’ temperatures we normally experience here, even during the winter months. In England it’s not unusual to experience periods of two weeks or more when the highest temperature the thermometer manages to attain is zero, and even during the last few months we’ve never had to put up with anything quite like that. We did suffer many mornings when there was quite a heavy frost on the ground, when it is unusual to get more than three or four mornings like that during the whole winter; and we had more than our fair share of rain too, plus of course almost everyone in the town went down with the fairly severe dose of flu which has plagued the country this winter, hitting young and old alike, (I even finished up in hospital for five days because of it!).
It is a delight to be able to get out of bed again without sticking our hands under our armpits for warmth, to be able to put away a lot of that woollen gear we’ve been wrapping ourselves in and to enjoy a smoothie or cereal with ice cold milk again, instead of the daily dose of porridge or beans on toast, or the other comfort food we fortified ourselves for months.
It still gets pretty cool once the sun goes down, so we have to put the air-conditioner on for a few hours, set to ‘warm’, but at least, during the daytime, the temperatures can go up into the high 20s or even the low 30s. Things have started to grow again in the garden too, creating a beautiful carpet of colour from the many blossoms that have been hiding themselves there, though unfortunately some didn’t survive the hard times — a lot of plants here just aren’t meant to be frozen solid by frost, though some did manage it with a few burnt leaves. Others just gave up the ghost and died, as far as we can tell. Jacqui has cut the apparently dead ones back almost to the ground, in case there is a spark of life hiding in there somewhere, quite successfully in the case of some plants, but sadly not others.
I suppose it will only be a month or two before we shall be complaining about the heat, the drought and the nearby fires, but at least the warmth is easier to bare than the cold, (for Jacqui and me anyway), we have plenty of shade areas in the garden, we have plenty of clothes we can throw off as required and we have plenty of makings for a gin and tonic we can mix up, something to make life seem even more luxurious. We really can’t complain!
I just hope I’ll see that golden ball most mornings in the coming months. The trouble is at our age the time goes by so quickly it will only seem like a couple of weeks from now before we’ll be complaining about the cold again!