Arts & Leisure

Looking for cooler pastures

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Sunflower Photo © JournoNews

A Brisbane friend told me her thermometer topped 41°C a week ago – and that was in the shade.

Inside, it was a sweaty 36°C which, accompanied by humidity, makes things pretty well uncomfortable.

She was moving at the time which made the heated experience even more difficult to cope with. In short, it was sheer hell.

But there again, this is a Brisbane summer. And the worst is yet to come.

A recent newspaper report in the Courier Mail has done nothing to allay my fears. In fact, I am in a mild state of panic at the heated state of the globe.

Experts, the story told, predicted “an increase of up to 4°C is possible by 2070 leading to annual temperatures well beyond anything over the past 50 years”.

Australia, it said, has just recorded its hottest six months ever and is on track to have the second hottest year since records began. Maximum temperatures were 6 to 9°C above normal.

My children’s tennis coach and Brisbane old-timer tells me it wasn’t always so. In the good old days, he muses, there were cooling thunderstorms at the end of a sweltering summer’s day. There was not day after day of endless heat with no relief in sight.

Perhaps we should all be picketing in Copenhagen—telling our own personal stories related to climate change. Mine would read like this:

Dear Mr Rudd,

It is bloody hot again in Brisbane, with apparently no imminent relief.

My attempt at being kind to the environment by lovingly and diligently planting a vegetable patch has gone horribly wrong. My tomatoes are frying on the vine and my gem squashes shrivel as soon as they’re accosted by the venomous sun. Even my sunflowers, surely the queen of sun worshippers, have turned their fair heads away from the fire ball accosting them daily. Weren’t they meant to follow the sun?

My chickens, dear Mr Rudd, are also taking strain. They have chosen to settle (and poop) on the cool tiles of my veranda rather than endure their hot little pen. It takes all my resolve not to let them in with the dog to enjoy a little air-conditioned comfort (I assure you it is one air-conditioner only—a mere pinprick of carbon emission in the bigger scheme of things).

My candles, Mr Rudd, are looking positively phallic. I kid you not, the sun beaming through the blinds has caused them to bow down in submission—they have, in short, melted and lie prostrate on the table.

My grass, Mr Rudd, laid at considerable cost some months back, is a sun-baked shade of brown—it will take a deluge or three to give it the will to live.

And get this: the indestructible gum trees are shedding their leaves—isn’t that an autumn pastime?  Doesn’t that sound pretty out of sorts to you?

This is all only the tip of the iceberg, Mr Rudd. I fear summer has only just begun— there is January and February to endure.

But, I will try not to complain. I will listen to my compatriots who tell me how lucky I am not to be living in a climate where temperatures drop to minus 20°C. I will nod sagely when they tell me how I would soon grow tired of the snow and the sludge and the murky grey skies.

And I try very hard not to tell everyone I meet that I am SO OVER THIS HEAT I want to move to cooler pastures. Today.

How cold is wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, dear Mr Rudd?

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Lois Nicholls is an Australian freelance journalist. She is also the author of "Aussie, Actually," which captures her heartfelt experiences as a South African migrant living in Australia. Her second book, "Bye-bye Bikini", published in August 2018, is a series of frank and humorous essays navigating everyday life from the perspective of a fifty-something former newspaper and magazine journalist. Her first children's book, "What Dog is That?" available in hardcopy from was published in May 2019. Her books on Amazon: