Having spent the last eight years living in a country with only one season — ok, one and a bit at a stretch — it was a refreshing and welcome assault on the senses to recently spend two weeks back in a Sydney summer.
I always find it fascinating how sights, sounds and smells can conjure up images in your mind, like one of those old clattering film projectors you had in school several lifetimes ago. That was when you felt totally trapped in a sweaty, sweltering demountable classroom with no air conditioning, willing the bell to ring while fidgetingly-enduring some tedious nature documentary you’d probably find quite interesting now almost forty years later — but I digress.
The first flashback of summers past was triggered by that truly unique fragrance of wet beach towels, then in no particular order the smell of a real Christmas tree, coconut oil, and sights of kids riding their new bikes from Santa with the pristine paint glinting — but not for long after a few inevitable “stacks”. You can never erase that wonderful aroma of vinegar on take away chips by the beach, accompanied of course by the obligatory cranky seagull, the searing sensation of hot sand burning feet pathetically softened by years trapped in shoes and offices. There’s that stunning colour of the summer sky, so blue they haven’t invented an adjective for it yet… and sadly the threat and devastating reality of bushfires, which evoked memories of still-smouldering Eucalyptus leaves falling out of a ominously smoke-hazed sky at Palm Beach years ago.
On a slightly brighter note, who can forget that valiant quest for a parking spot in a shopping centre or at the beach — with the moment of unbridled joy when you see the magnificent white aura of reversing lights appear before you.
In case I needed any reminding I was smack bang back in the middle of a glorious Sydney summer, this announcement was made on the ferry to Watson’s Bay, “If anyone’s interested in the cricket, Australia are 4 for 251”.
Words and image ©Steve Williams 2012