Tuesday, February 19, 2013

That time of year again

February is the pits. The moment the kids finish holidays and go back to school you know Huey has dialled in a heatwave to beat all heatwaves. We've only just forgotten our sweltering Xmas, we scorched ourselves in the sun on Oz day, and now it's time to get intimate with the air con dials. Because it's the only thing separating us from a pretty accurate earthly interpretation of hell!

You exaggerate, I hear you scoff. You've spent time in hot humid parts of the world and you've got by with staying in the shade, supping an icy drink, slipping in and out of  a nearby pool/ocean/river/waterfall, and been serenaded to sleep by a fan's gentle whirr. But this ain't the tropics love, this is Dante's inferno!

It's the temperature (really fucking hot!!) and the humidity (damn sticky) that combine to make life so bloody miserable at this time of year. Then add the secret ingredient: wind. Hot, dry wind at blistering speed assaulting us straight from the red centre.

Turn on your oven. Put the fan on. Then once it's heated up nicely, go stick your head in it. Imagine that's your whole body (fine, jump in the oven if you like!) and you get the idea. I am not joking!

Now imagine that is every day for 5 days in a row. Then a few days where the wind cools things down by blowing a gale from the south instead. Nice and salty, mmmmm....Then back to that fan forced feeling. And this lovely little pattern repeats itself ad infinitum for 3-4 months every year. No rain, never! It's this time of the year when I seriously wonder WTF I live here...

Eastern Australia gets heatwaves too. They get these horrible days when the temperature hits 40, there's a really nasty hot wind, and hey presto there's a big mother of a bushfire that burns hundreds and thousands of acres of land, destroys homes, kills people. It's incredibly tragic, these Ash Wednesdays, Black Saturdays, there's a myriad of them over the decades, when the fury of a fire takes no prisoners.

They've got fuel over there. Trees, undergrowth, stuff that burns when a match (bloody arsonists!) or lightning ignites it. They don't "fight" the fires, they just try and protect property and people, while the fire burns itself out. I take my hat off to those guys and girls, most of whom are vollies, for the incredible work they do.

We get fires here too, but they are rarely in the same epic scale as those horrific east coast fires. We get the heat and the winds, more often, more consistently, but we just don't get the fuel buildup. I mean plants need moisture to grow right?

I don't want to belittle the horror of the experiences of those poor people devastated by fire over east, but every time I hear on the news about another day over there when the temperature climbs into the high 30s I sneer. One or two days in a row, 2 or three times in a year? Oh come on, toughen up princess!

I've been a GP here for 12 years. I notice a huge spike in complaints about tiredness, fatigue, lethargy every February. I'm convinced it's the weather. We're all in survival mode, holed up in our air conditioned McMansions waiting for the sun to dip low before we venture out to play. It just wears everyone down.

The heat is usually extremely unkind to my garden in February. Normally, anything not dead by now gasps it's last breath and expires. But not this time! I'm happy to report that all my efforts have not been in vain and most of my plants are still thriving. The lettuce seedlings went to heaven, but the butternut pumpkin started fruiting again, and the asparagus has been sprouting new shoots like it's spring! And there are the cutest little watermelons coming on. Tomatos are ripening, new cucumber plants are sprouting, and the recently planted seedlings are racing along.

Photos next post, promise!

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