Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Be careful what you wish for

On the last day of July, with another month of winter still left here in the Southern Hemisphere, Sydney’s temperature hit twenty-five degrees; nine degrees above average for this time of year. It was hot, sunny and slightly alarming.

Four hours inland, at the birthplace of that great Aussie bush balladeer Banjo Paterson, they were forecasting overnight lows of minus three, and snow the following day.

Snow in Orange, pic courtesy of ABC

Snow in Orange, pic courtesy of ABC

I packed a suitcase of winter woollies and set off for Orange, where I’d arranged to give a book reading of Love in the Outback in the local library.

Air conditioning dropped the temperature inside the car from twenty-seven to a more comfortable twenty-two, and my spirits rose as I crossed the Blue Mountains. Outside the temperature fell to nineteen, eighteen, seventeen…

Three hours later I passed signs saying slow down, snow and ice on the road, and I smiled in anticipation of proper winter weather (the Pom in me can’t help it) although the sky was still a snappy blue and the paddocks green with lush grass, not white with frost, as I’d hoped.

The sun dropped lower in the sky and the temperature fell to thirteen then stubbornly stayed there. Chilly, for sure, but not the crisp cold I was anticipating in a town with a reputation for winter wonderland scenes of snow and ice.

Orange is a food lover’s paradise, a gourmet town fringed by thriving vineyards and orchards, with tempting cellar doors and farm gate markets that bring tourists by their thousands. All I wanted was a bit of snow and ice. Frost would have done me.

I consoled myself with the thought that another sunny day would bring more people to the library and I checked into the hotel just as it got dark, before popping out to find a second hand bookshop and a Thai takeaway, walking streets lined with winter bare trees deep in hibernation. There was a chill in the air and a slipper of a moon, lying on its back in the clear sky above.

I woke this morning and switched on the local radio, to catch the tail end of the local weather report. ‘Temperatures in Orange have dropped three degrees in the past hour,’ the announcer said gravely. ‘We expect snow to arrive in the next hour.’

Grey clouds are gathering and the wind has picked up and I’m on my way to an interview at the ABC with the lovely Angela Owens.

I suspect I might be talking to an empty library later today, but hey, it will be snowing!




8 comments on “Be careful what you wish for

  1. Adele Hughes
    July 31, 2014

    Deb – just finished “Love in the Outback”- loved it! Finally I get your story! It’s so alive with honesty, verbal pictures & life being just that – life. Hope the Orange library warmed up! xx


  2. debhuntinbrokenhill
    August 1, 2014

    So glad you enjoyed it Adele. The sun has come out in Orange 🙂 x


  3. Eliza Waters
    August 1, 2014

    Hope you get a good crowd, if not the snow 🙂


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      August 5, 2014

      The snow arrived after I left but the crowd in the library was compensation enough and I discovered I LOVE reading out loud! What a magical place Orange was, and Dubbo too which is where I went next. Thanks for the encouragement Eliza.


  4. bkpyett
    August 1, 2014

    Deb, I do hope you had a receptive audience and enough snow to build a snowman.


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      August 5, 2014

      No snow but plenty of laughter from the audience, a sunny day and a great opportunity to find out more about a part of Australia I hadn’t visited before. 🙂


  5. laroseedespetiteschoses
    August 1, 2014

    Hi Deb, we have lovely English summer here. I too loved “Love in the outback” I finished it on the trip over. Will donate to the local library so Cherry Hinton will enjoy reading your book.


  6. debhuntinbrokenhill
    August 5, 2014

    Glad to hear you’re having a good summer in England and thanks so much for your feedback on Love in the Outback – very sweet idea to donate to the local library 🙂


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This entry was posted on July 31, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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