Wednesday, January 27, 2010

cool change

Here's a story about one day during our school holidays a couple of weeks ago. A story of summer.

It's sweltering. The electricity has been off for 15 hours. Every time we ring the power company, the estimated time for blackout's end changes: 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm. It's over 35 degrees Celsius* outside the house and about the same inside.

We didn't get much sleep last night. The radio smugly informs us that it was the hottest night in Melbourne for 108 years. We're sweaty, grumpy and exhausted. Our frozen food is slowly defrosting and the fridge gave up the battle to keep the milk cool hours ago. Steve goes out to pick up a couple of bags of ice, and we throw them hopefully into the chest freezer.

I ring the local pool and ask if they've managed to stay open without power. "Of course!", says a cheerful receptionist. "We're having a little trouble with cooling, but we are open!"

We pull on our bathers, gather a pile of towels and goggles, drive to the pool in the blissfully airconditioned car, and slip into the kiddies' pool. It's a little like a giant, lukewarm, overpopulated bath.

My tension ebbs away into the rippling light. Water slaps gently on the sides of the pool. Voices echo off the cavernous ceiling. Women surreptitiously eye one another's swimwear choices.

Our six year old son shows off his new swimming skills and begs for one more game of "I'll chase you, you chase me". Our three year old giggles and kicks me painfully as he explores this exciting liquid element. The older kids chase each other down the lime green waterslides.

We dodge balls and children in the shallow kiddies' pool. We gasp as we plunge into the over-heated churning spa. We slip into the welcome coolness of the adults' pool. When we walk between pools, the chlorine-scented air feels heavy and sultry on our damp skin.

It's 4:00 when the overhead lights flick on: the blackout is over, right on time. Almost simultaneously, the cool change comes. We shiver pleasurably as cold air floods through the open doors. The glaring blue sky melts into soft cloud. Rain pelts down.

We're wet already, so we step outside, onto damp grass under dripping trees. We lift glad faces to the emptying clouds. A flock of cockatoos wheels and screeches high in the grey. I raise my arms and surrender my skin to the hard, pummeling rain.

Cool change in Melbourne.

* That's 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The day before, it reached 43.6 degrees Celsius (over 110 degrees Fahrenheit), so I guess I should be glad the blackout held off for a day!

images are from tybcat_64 and bitzcelt at flickr

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