Melbourne in winter

I have, when younger, lived through many a cold winter in Melbourne.

Not that you could call it cold in the same sense that people who live in the northern states of the US and in particular, from personal experience, places like Chicago.

It just depends on personal experience.

But, now that I live in a warmer climate, where days in winter often hover above 20 degrees Celcius, coming back to a city where the maximum is going to be 10 degrees Celcius is something of a shock.

I mean, we do have cold weather where I live, but it doesn’t have the wind chill factor.  Melbourne is notorious for having four seasons on one day, but right now, it’s just winter and colder than we’re used to.  Perhaps it has something to do with Victoria’s proximity to Antarctica.

A great day to stay in, light the fire, and read a book.  I’m sure most of us have a large amount of reading we’ve been putting off till the next rainy day.

Well, that’s here, and there’s a lot of reading I’ve been putting off.  And like most modern houses, there’s no fireplace, just reverse cycle airconditioning.  Curling up and reading a book in that scenario isn’t quite the same as the almost mesmerizing flames of a real fire.

And it is, or was about half an hour ago, raining, with a gusty wind that has the element of penetrating even the thickest layers of clothing and chill you to the bone.

The problem is, we’re away, not necessarily on holiday but with a lot of activities in mind so rail, wind chill, miserable weather is just another highlight of traveling.

This morning when we wake up it is pouring with rain, and the wind is howling through the nearby trees and you can feel the cold, as much in your imagination as it is in reality.

I shudder, and it’s hard to say what drives it.  We have to go out so we’ll see what it’s like when we’re ready to leave.  A lot can happen, weather-wise, in a few hours.

But, that pull of the sport, that level of dedication to support your team does not leave you, because it is ingrained in you from the day you are born, and stays with you till the day you die, no matter where you live, anywhere in the world.  Thank God there is the internet.

Remarkably the sun comes out from behind the clouds which are thinning out.  The sunshine does not raise the temperature because the wind, gusty at times, is still very chilling.

This is definitively Melbourne in winter.  And I can tell you, I don’t miss it.

That doesn’t mean I dislike the cold, far from it, it’s just the sustained variations of cold assisted by sheeting rain and blustery wind gusts I can do without.  It’s never just purely cold like it can be in the northern hemisphere.

But the weather is never that bad we don’t go out.  This morning we are heading to the South Melbourne market.  Cold weather doesn’t stop anyone and it’s nigh on impossible to find a parking spot, and in our search, we pass other shoppers being blown about by the wind.

The walk to the market itself is chilling.  In the food aisle street side, it is warmer, with fires burning to keep the customers warm, and the food aromas tempting.  We are here for the spring rolls, the dim sims, and the potato cakes.

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And the wide variety of fresh produce available that would put a supermarket to shame.  I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live nearby and do my shopping at the market.  We probably would be eating a lot healthier.

Burning the midnight oil

It’s an interesting phrase, one that means someone is working overtime at the office till late at night, or early next morning.

You know, “Been burning the midnight oil again, Frank?”

It prompted me to look up its real meaning.  It goes back to the days before electricity where a worker toiled into the night using only an oil lamp or candles.

In my office, I now have LED lights that are reasonably bright, not like the neon lights I used to have that made me feel like I was in a television studio.  Either way, it’s not quite the atmosphere needed when looking for inspiration.

That inspiration might be better attained in a more subdued atmosphere, perhaps even using candles.  In one of the other rooms, we have a wood fire and that projects a very soothing glow, as well as providing warmth, and there I sit sometimes, Galaxy Tab in hand, writing.

But all of that aside, those hours leading up to and after midnight are the best time for me to write.

At times the silence is deafening, another rather quaint but relatively true expression.

At others, there are what I call the sounds of silence, which for some reason are much easier to hear than during the daylight hours.

The bark of a dog.

The rustle of leaves in the trees.

The soft pattering of rain on the roof.

The sound of a train horn from a long way away.

The sound of a truck using its brakes on the highway, also a long way away.

The sound of people talking in the street.

I’ve never really thought about it until now, but it will be something I can use in one of my stories.

Perhaps it will be the theme of another.

Damn, sidetracked again!

Living in a winter wonderland, not

Living in a more tr temperate climate where the days of winter are anything from 18 to 23 degrees Celsius, sunny, or overcast, without a hint of rain.

Rarely is it so cold that a combination of wind and rain can chill you to the bone, as it does in the southern states of this country, Australia.

Today is one of those days, sunny and with an almost cloudless blue sky.

Yet I love winter, the real winter where the temperature is so cold your face starts to freeze, an experience I had one January in Chicago, or where the temperature is hovering just above freezing and there is snow everywhere.

New Yorkers I discovered do not like this very much, understandably so because it interferes with their daily lives and livelihood, but to us tourists from those warmer climes it is manna from heaven.

3-foot snow drifts in Central Park, a place where a child can easily make a snow angel, these are aspects of winter we may never see where we live.

The closest we are going to get is a classic wood fire, where we can sit by and watch the flames dance while it keeps us warm.  Nights here do get cold.

But as for a white Christmas, we have to travel to the other side of the world for that.  Good thing then that their winter coincides with our Christmas and generally the hottest days of the years.

In fact, we’re coming your way this year

I can hardly wait.