Meanwhile in Australia

Here in Australia we’re entirely past the elections. For what it’s worth, the Coalition won and their leader called it a ‘miracle.’ They won largely because the far right gave them lots of preferences and there was a major surge in votes for the far right, which disturbs me. Much of the Queensland public faithfully followed the careful political stratagems laid out by the Queensland Liberal Party and the biggest sadness was that the true winners were minority parties who seem to not work well with other people. The opposition has lost its leader and gained Albanese. Albanese is, indeed the person who was rude to me once and who inspired a paragraph in my fiction. Let’s move on.

We’re not moving far because yesterday (I’m writing this on Thursday) was the coldest May day in Canberra in twenty years. May is autumn. Time of the pretty leaves and vast blousy winds and big storms. We’ve had the leaves, but very little of the winds or storms. The day was well under ten degrees and far too wet for comfort and the night was -2 and I thought I was feeling the memory of cold as I wrote those words. I’m wrong. It’s seven degrees outside right now, and the wind chill (from the snow that fell so very thoroughly on the nearby mountains all yesterday) brings the temperature down to 2.3 degrees. I was simply feeling cold.

What is all this in Fahrenheit? Not bitterly cold, but surprisingly fresh for autumn. We even had bits of snow falling in my valley in the rain yesterday and my valley is so dry we’re lucky to get that once a year. Once in November, but never in May. Not never… hardly ever. (Blame all Gilbert and Sullivan jokes on my current novel.)

It was much warmer today than yesterday, for it reached a marvellously comfortable eleven. I didn’t go out in it. I was out so much yesterday, for teaching and for messages that my toes were still curled under and all I wanted to do today was eat.

Australia is a very foodie country, so I had lots of choices. I ate persimmons and they were very nice and sadly, are no more until I get to the market on Sunday. Lunch was a rice porridge made with chicken and shallots and vast amounts of garlic. Garlic is very good for scaring the cold away. It had better be, for I don’t know how to make small amounts of that kind of rice porridge and I have enough for three more days. Generous serves. Including one for dinner tonight. Garlic scares the cold away and it’s getting colder by the hour.

When winter comes, things will be very chill indeed, but I’ll be more used to it. Also, let me admit, the day of the cold is not the difficult day for staying warm when one lacks central heating; the problem day is always the day after. Today is the day where nothing remains comfortable, no matter how much I try.

Today is also the second last day of the last month before the end of the financial year, which means I’m spending so much time siting at a computer finishing things that I feel my fingers tap-tapping stiffly from the cold but I cannot stop typing.

Our financial year finishes at the end of June, so this is my moment to pull so many things together. Before Monday I have five essays to write (one already done!) and a novel to finish. I my dream world the novel is finished by midnight tomorrow, and I’m making good progress on it. I can dream of it being finished…

Let’s get back to the snow. Australia’s national capital is about halfway between the most amazing beaches and between the tallest mountains. Our idea of a tall mountain is not the Himalayan idea of a tall mountain. We have the longest mountain range in the world, but to so many visitors they’re simply pretty hills. Today those pretty hills have snow on them. This means right now everyone who skis is making plans to head that hour or so further into the mountains, and everyone who hates the cold is headed over the Great Dividing Range in the opposite direction, to where the temperature is about the same as midsummer in Finland.

Me, I can’t drive, so I look at the snow trips and made rude gestures at those who are skiing and making snowmen and I look in the other direction and dream of golden beaches. I can’t make rude gestures towards the beach this week because some of my students have gone down there for a few days. They’ve promised to bring back shells from the Pacific.

I’m torn between wanting to make snow angels or sand angels. Want must be my master for here I am, in Canberra, in the middle of the Great Dividing Range, with nothing but wibbly toes.

Not nothing. Something came in from the cold last night… I have a spider in the bath.


About Gillian Polack

Gillian Polack is a historian as well as a fiction writer, which means that history is likely to creep into her blogposts. She is also Australian, a foodie, and has a strong love of things ranging from chocolate to folk dance. All her jokes are good jokes, even the ones that aren't funny at all.

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