The rain splatters across my windscreen, as the wipers track back and forth, left to right. The road is littered with debris; broken branches, leaves and bits of rubbish that circle and flutter across the road. As we sit in our car, parked temporarily at the traffic lights, I watch a group of pedestrians cross the road, umbrellas held tightly in their hands. As they make a 90° turn and head down Herries Street, their umbrellas suddenly lurch into inside-out mode.
Over the past few days, some parts of South-East Queensland have received the equivalent of a month of rain. Apparently, it is even flooding further up north. It looks and feels like the middle of winter, yet my calendar tells me it is the middle of October. Spring. Where has the sunny weather gone?
This sudden burst of cold, wet weather has sent us digging out the winter woollies we had packed away until next year. We are scrounging through the pantry and freezer for hot soup, pies and hearty stews to warm us up from the inside. We have even had to turn the heater on.
Despite the cold weather, the rain is certainly welcome. After a dry winter, the grass was looking rather brown and bare and the water tank had been empty for some time. When I look out the window now, I can see that the weeds are growing beautifully. They are tall, green and lush. Hopefully the grass will catch up soon.
After living in Queensland for almost 16 years, I have had a recent reminder of what I have been missing from down south. Just a few weeks ago, prior to this cold snap, we packed our suitcases, boarded the plane in Brisbane and flew down to Adelaide for a week’s holiday with family. My Dad has just turned 80. The day that we left Brisbane, it was expected to be about 35°C. A little warmer than usual for this time of year, but quite enjoyable. When we arrived in Adelaide, the pilot announced it was currently 14°C. Are you kidding!
Adelaide is always a little cooler than Queensland, so we had checked the forecast and packed accordingly. But we forgot. We forgot that even though the numbers look the same, they don’t feel the same. 17°C in Queensland is different to 17°C in Adelaide. In Queensland it would be OK, maybe a little cool, but all right. In Adelaide – it is freezing. We froze.
I grew up in Adelaide and I can remember the long, cold, wet, windy winters. I remember putting my school uniform inside my bed, so that it would be warmed up by the electric blanket while I was having breakfast. I remember huddling in front of the gas heater and wearing so many layers that I felt like a penguin. I remember all of this, and yet I was still unprepared for the cold.
Neither of my siblings live in Adelaide anymore either. My brother lives in Perth and my sister lives near Sydney. My brother and his family were able to come to Adelaide for my Dad’s birthday too, and they froze as well. I didn’t feel so bad then. We were all wearing at least three layers of clothing, while my mother was only wearing one and seemed to take great delight in telling us that it wasn’t cold. My mother never feels the cold.
It’s funny though, how we have acclimatised to a different environment. After years of us all living interstate, we all agree. We could never go back to living in Adelaide. It’s just too cold!