According to an article I wrote in January 2008 Murrumbatepersons were anxiously looking skywards scanning for smoke and hoping for clouds and rain. And here we are doing exactly the same again! Thanks to our amazing firies, there is now no smoke on the horizon but neither is there rain bearing clouds, while in 2008 40.4mm of rain fell making life easier for all.
Harking back to my last week's column concerning scorching heat in the past, my thoughts turned to summer picnics. Are you and your family among those hardy souls who still enjoy summer picnics? In my youth my way to cope with serious heat was to pedal off to the swimming pool to spend the day there or stay until it became too crowded to move.
Mum and dad shunned the pool and longed for the river, either the Murrumbidgee or Cotter, and a beach. As the temperature climbed they cheerfully announced we would all picnic at the river and loaded the car for the slow, hot trip with travelling rug, the blackened billy wrapped in newspaper and a clinking basket of cups, saucers and teapot. Milk was poured into a clean lemonade bottle and capped, mum made a pile of ham sandwiches and into the tin labelled ‘Cake’ went a fresh sponge. Swimmers, towels and hats completed the load. And as a concession to the heat, mum would abandon her corsets and dad his tie.
Car windows were flung open with guarded anticipation as we slowly wound our dusty way into the river valley and found a suitable spot to spread the rug. The milk was placed up to its neck in the river to keep cool (this was a time before eskies), dad lit the fire and filled the billy to boil for tea, while we children swam.
As soon as the sandwiches appeared and even before they dried to a crisp in the heat, swarms of black flies descended from the casuarinas. They crawled into mouths, ears, eyes and up noses, they crowded over dropped crumbs and followed our sandwiches to our mouths making eating a risky exercise. Finally, cursing under his breath, an exasperated dad would throw tea into the boiling billy, swing it over his head in the time-honoured way and we competed again with the flies to drink.
Then the food was stowed, mum and dad spread newspapers over their prone forms on the rug and dozed while we were free to amuse ourselves.
On the coolest day for some time, a fire was reported near Murrumbateman on January 14 and despite creating a news item was quickly extinguished. Everything is so dry now that we must be aware that even rubbing two sticks together would cause a fire.