The first sproings of Spring
Here in sunny Adelaide (‘Adders’), it’s 26C. I have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit, let alone how to spell it, but it’s lovely, warm, glorious and gives you that little glow that tells you “Oh goody, summer is coming, summer is coming!”
The dog and I did our usual 6 kilometre, 6am run around the school oval this morning and were actually greeted by the rising sun. Six kilometres is what I do in a kind of arthritic, crab-like, shuffling way, punctuated by agonized gasps for air and despairingly pitching my hefty bulk forward like a drunk about to meet his end on a pub carpet. All this effort to complete a measly fifteen laps of 400 metres. Milly the dog, on the other hand, hoons right over to the furthest car park to look for interesting scraps in the soccer club skip; comes back to footy posts give a few magpies what-for; scoots over to the edge of the fence to bark at the frustrated dog yapping vainly at her; runs half a lap backwards to sniff the poos of her fellow furry friends and finally does part of a lap with me. Her total distance would be more in the vicinity of 15km.
In winter, we’re normally greeted with total darkness, crunchy frosts and mud that oozes from the rain-soaked grass onto Milly’s low-slung stomach and my shoes. Instead, today the sun was up before we were and this allowed Milly to actually see what sort of birds it was that she was chasing.
A shower, breakfast and school drop-off later; I was running a few errands in Norwood, enjoying that noble, ‘I’m-so-great-and-you’re-a-lazy-sack-of-liposuction-leftovers’ feeling that people who exercise first thing in the morning tend to feel. That is, until I realised that I was dressed from the springtimes of five years ago. All of the yummy mummies around me were elegant peasants and mysteriously very tanned for bodies that had yet to feel the first rays of sun on them since leaving the underground car park.
‘Crikey’, I said to Marion at the chemist as I waited for my non-peasant prescription. Yes, I really do use the word crikey. Either that, or ‘heck’, which is a permanent habit from my Methodist, non-drinking, non-cursing parents. "It must have cost her a thousand bucks to look like a gypsy with a Corfu-island tan like that," I remarked as a bohemian barrister’s wife wafted past. “Oh, I don’t know,” Marion leaned forward and confided to me, recognizing a fellow dag when she saw one. “We sell a lot of fake tan in here and have increased our sales three-fold since just last week.”
We farewelled each other and I shuffled out of the door, a little less smugly now. My target cargo ¾ pants, old white t-shirt and scruffy sneakers looked very out of place. Before visiting the butcher and Coles, I decided to wander through a few clothes shops. At least it appeared as though there are now two choices of clothing for us No-Longer-Teenagers-But-Not-Yet-Ready-For-Judells thirty-somethings. There was your usual bum-crack and hint of the map of Tassie jeans, low slung skirts for the abdominally gifted and those slutty Jessica Simpson shorts. Or the peasant wear. I tentatively tried on a crushed, three-tiered skirt, a white kaftan top and some gold toe sandals.
Oh dearie dearie me. I looked like a pink-boiled chicken breast wearing a bunch of rags, with my painfully-white feet now turning blue from the optimistic air conditioning in the shop. “How are you going in there?” asked the twelve year old, size eight, 6 foot tall genetic mutant. “Err, great thanks. Do you have these tops in a larger size? I don’t think these muslin sleeves are meant to be tight enough to make my arms look like pork sausages….?”
“I’ll go and check," she said, with about as much enthusiasm as Kim Beazley spotting Mark Latham under the mistletoe. Three seconds later she was back and with a much louder voice. “Nah, you’ve got the largest size we have, sorry.”
Since when is a ‘twelve’ called large anyway? Were any peasants a size twelve or were they all starving itinerants sized 10 or smaller? Were they all tanned, thin and windswept? It was an impossible task for me to adopt this boho-gypsy look, being a human fluoro tube with short, cobwebby blonde hair. Never mind, it was a beautiful springtime day and I thought that maybe just some belts and beads will at least look as though I was trying to blend in. Not stand out, mind you, just blend in enough so that my increasingly fashion-conscious six year old doesn’t roll her eyes at me any more than she already does.
If only I’d saved my big leather belts from the eighties; those ones we used to wear with our very long and very large chambray shirts over long skirts and navy blue flat Diana Ferrari pumps….. Nearly twenty years and childbirth, age and chocolate-addiction later I realise that I do emphatically not need a chunky plaited belt to rest under my belly folds in order to emphasise its bulk and the width of my hips. And the beads….well….. I turned around to hang my bag on the hook in the changing room and they got caught on the hinge of the door, almost garotting me in the process. Accessories aren’t the thing either then, but I still had to pay for those bloody beads because the string broke and the little pellets shot all over the floor like tictacs making a prison break.
My last attempt to avoid the scorn of my daughter was sunglasses. Surely it was possible to update my look with a snazzy pair of shades? And a bottle of fake tan in the lightest shade? Fake tan – easy, a quick visit back to Marion at the chemist, who raised an eyebrow at my capitulation. Shades – so ugly, so stupid, so tragic. I don’t want to have shades that are wider than my face (and that was just one lense)! I also don’t want glasses that, whilst they do a good job of sun protection, make me look as though my entire head is encased in black plastic and I’m waiting for my seeing eye dog to return from it’s bonio break. Sighing, I tried and bought a pair of discreet brown ones that were almost identical to the ones I wore and misplaced last summer.
Come on I inwardly admonished myself. It’s too nice a day to worry about joining the peasantry! What do you really want to do on this fine spring day? Grocery shopping: Done. Chemist: Done, twice. Go home and bath the dog: Done. Tidy up: Done. Well, at least as much as I was prepared to do anyhow. And now? A farmer’s union 'feel good' iced coffee and a banana outside under the verandah. Peasant food yes. but also very pleasant.