Hot Hot Hot!
The above headline pretty much gives the topic of this blog article away doesn't it. It's summer down here in South Australia and it's HOT.
We four - my adorable husband Love Chunks, six year old delight Sapphire and nearly two year old furry faced mutt Milly, have gone 'up' to the Riverland for our summer holiday. Essentially we're doing what we normally do at home, but in a renovated 1900 farmhouse close to the Murray river and other local attractions such as Loxton, Berri, Monash Playground, Lake Bonney, various wineries and foodie places.
I had such fond memories of my family's annual trip to the Lake Bonney caravan park at Barmera in the 70s and 80s when we were joined by other families that taught at the same highschool my father did. We had the best spot in the entire park: right on the edge near the shady trees, our own ablutions block and personalised lake frontage. Our days were spent eating the sticky sweet local stone fruits and then diving into the warm lake waters to wash off and cool off.
The warm lake waters should have set my mental alarm bells ringing, but I must have deliberately repressed it in my determination to not go on another seaside and blow-fly wind fest on the Yorke Pensinsula.
Instead, as we have found in our first four days so far, the weather up here is nearly ten degrees celcius hotter than in Adelaide with an entirely unfamiliar strain of fist-sized orange wasps and hordes of ants on their own pilgrimage to mecca, or failing that, my feet. Milly has found it nearly impossible to find a grassy spot to lie out on under the shade because it has already been developed to Surfers Paradise proportions by ant hills. The poor beast leaps up as though she's been electrocuted, dashes over to the pavers, rolls around frantically to get them off and snorts a few keen ones out of her nose. This is repeated by her at least another dozen times whilst we're outside eating our breakfast.
We make a concerted effort to eat our first meal of the day al fresco because it is quite honestly the only time we can bear to be out there without rivers of sweat running down the grooves of our backs, landing rather disconcertingly amongst our already-sweltering butt cheeks. As I get up from the table it feels as though I've peed my pants: this makes me yearn to have another shower despite my hair still being wet from the one I had twenty minutes earlier.
Our 'convenient riverbank frontage' is a dusty kilometre walk from the house through salt bush to arrive at the edge of the reeds. The reeds thin out enough for the swimming hole to resemble a rice paddy garnished with bark strips from the overhead gum trees. Sapphire, thankfully, is happy enough to paddle through the murk and go for a swim, which means that we must do too.
She's a city-raised child who knows nothing of slime, nibbling carp or sink holes, so either Love Chunks or myself make sure that we're between her and the deeper waters. Burnside pool in the thick of the energetically chattering VacSwim crowd never looked so good....
As we head back to our 'lovingly restored limestone farmhouse' glimpsed on the web and talked up by the Loxton tourism officer, I realise that it is really just a satanic sweatbox. The only airconditioner is in the cavernous loungeroom and would have been brand new when Neil Diamond was having a Hot August Night. The bloody contraption sounds like a middle aged man starting a porsche - lots of noise, fury and appearance but providing nothing of any value. We three humans lie prostrate on the sofas, preferring to be deafened by the air con than risk inviting in the heat that makes even lifting my head up a daunting challenge.
Sapphire is the so-called lucky one of the house - she gets to sleep with the house's only pedestal fan blowing on her. The air reminds me of our oven in fan-forced grill mode, but at least her hair is stirring and she is sleeping soundly. Kids don't ever seem to notice when it's hot, and I guess that's why I chose to return to these holiday stomping grounds of twenty years ago in the first place.
Milly the dog is exiled to a trampoline-style bed outside. Unusually she is not whining to be let in, and that is surely because she can feel the waft of stale heat billow from the kitchen door every time we go inside. She is mostly safe from the ants on her lofty 15cm bed, and has learned that chasing and snapping at the wasps will only end in a nose that either has to be licked for twelve hours straight or be permanently placed into the water dish to soak.
Love Chunks and I finish off our glasses of wine. Without saying it out loud, it is clear that we are both hoping we'll be merry and anaesthetised enough to go to bed in our room which would be a jolly useful place for a busy bakery to leaven their bread. We have an ancient ceiling fan that creaks ominously as it is turned on. I always feel afraid and hope that it will survive another night without the blades crashing down on our double ensemble. The plastic knobbly thing under the fitted sheet is the wiring case for the heated blanket and my knowledge of its existence just makes the room feel even hotter. We both writhe around seeking a cool spot to lie in, cursing the noisy fan and dreaming of our fully air conditioned house in Adelaide.
Eventually even we two old farts sleepily give in and accept a visit from the Sandman. We both sleep on our backs in a dead starfish position in the hope that we'll have maximum exposure to the air moved reluctantly by the fan. Love Chunks rolls over on to his side, facing me. "Bam!" Out shoots his left fist, straight into my face.
"Hey! Love Chunks, wake up! You just hit me!"
"Wha-what? Oh, sorry love, I'll roll over to the other side....g'night... zzzzzzz....."
Lucky sod. He's able to go back to sleep quicker than I can say "Is it too immature of me to want to go to the freezer and eat one of Sapphire's sunny boys?" I decide that it isn't and walk into the hottest - and quietest - room of the house.