Sunday, 25 November 2007

GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING: This Post Almost Becomes Political

Img_2476_2 There are days in the summer, during January and February, when the thermometer sizzles past 43, 44 degrees Celsius, and there's little that can be done except wilt and wait. These are days to shut the windows and blinds, to prevent as much heat from breaking into the house as possible, to attempt anchoring shade cloth around the garden or watch hopelessly as tree fruit and vine fruit is scorched to useless. These are days when the clamour of the fire siren makes everyone draw a deep breath and peer towards the horizon for that tell-tale belt of smoke.

Whether at work or home, there's little that can be done except dream about paddling along the beach and splashing through the surf, and maybe swimming or snorkelling for an hour or two ... once the northerly has dropped, once the fierceness of the heat no longer prickles your skin and makes you feel you might spontaneously combust if you stay out too long. There's little that can be done except sit still and drink iced water and wait.

We wait for the doctor. We wait for the change. And we learn to listen for it, to know when it's arrived.

Some people call it 'the doctor', some people call it 'the change', but we're lucky here, along our stretch of coast, that we can almost rely on this most delicious respite at the end of such days. Invariably, with late afternoon or early evening, the hot desert winds from the north will abruptly pause, turn and meekly surrender to a fresher, cooling breeze that skips across the Southern Ocean from the south-west. And people start calling out: "The change has arrived," or "The doctor's here," and strangers smile at one another again. It's time to open the blinds and the windows, to grab a chair and sit outside with a cold beer or white wine (or vodka and ice with a twist of lemon), and chat and breathe again. Later, couples and families might be seen wandering along the beach in the dark, splashing through the surf, playing ...

I am not a party-political creature, but this is the way I felt last night when the federal election result was announced.
A federal election affects the national psyche, creates a state of tension, anticipation, anxiety. But the change has arrived---it's over---and everyone can get on with their lives again. Phew! Relief!

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