Story telling from Australia
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.
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!