Times Past: Weather

Irene Waters has suggested “weather” as a topic.

Australian city, Baby Boomer

I grew up in South Australia, a place with a temperate climate, no snow, no cyclones. That means when I’m home I call a 12C day bitterly cold!

Every Christmas as kids we used to get new “bathers” and often a beach towel so we always hoped for hot weather then but I never liked extremely hot days. I remember staying at an auntie’s home one summer and she got sick of me being under her feet and insisted I go outside. I found a shady spot under a grape vine and stayed there. No one had air conditioning and heat waves were bad for me. Sprinklers gave us wonderful relief and at home we would play on the lawn running in and out of the long, bar sprinkler. In the evenings Dad would often take us to the beach. We also slept outside on the hottest nights.

I don’t remember rainy days though I do remember picking oranges covered in raindrops. In 1956 the River Murray flooded and we helped Dad fold empty hessian bags that were sent to be filled with sand to protect homes along the river. Once when I went down to the horse yards at West Beach the water trough was completely iced over. That amazed me so it must have been a rare thing. Hailstorms sometimes happened and seeing the ground covered in white always made us imagine it was snow.

During one of our caravan holidays we were at Merrimbula when there was a hailstrorm with hailstones the size of golfballs pelting down. I’d never seen any bigger than peas before.

Thunderstorms always caused a mixture of wonder and fear but I don’t remember anything dramatic resulting from one.

Probably the thing that stuns me most about the weather is the way we’ve come to respond to it. I don’t know anyone who’s car doesn’t have air conditioning. People move from air conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to air conditioned shops etc. Primary School children are kept inside if the weather forecast is over 36 deg C, they don’t have a shady hat or if it’s raining. Schools all have air conditioning, when I was at school that took the form of an open window in summer and a wood burning fire in winter.

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