Our Matt woke up early on Thursday, ready to drive across Germany to Berlin for Christmas – the first visit to the girls’ grandparents for two years. Sunrise was at 8.30am, and the back garden was under four degrees of frost.
It would be a cold drive. He scraped ice off the car before they began, and he’d need to watch out for perilous black ice on the roads.
His girls already know the rules of living in a cold climate. Don’t lick an icy fence or your tongue will stick. Don’t eat snow – you never know if a dog has lifted its leg there. Or a drunk. When skating, look out for the signs of thin ice; and learn how to wrap a long scarf around your neck.
In Queensland we’re used to heat, at Christmas and through the months that follow. I’ve seen Sydney people reduced to sweating exhaustion by Brisbane heat and humidity, and the further north you go the hotter it gets.
Here are some things we know about Queensland summer.
- It’s cooler under the house; especially if you hose the concrete.
- Park the car under a shady tree, even if you have to drive around the block to find one. But not in a storm.
- Leave the car windows down a crack to let air circulate while you’re doing your Christmas shopping. But not if there’s a storm coming.
- Never run out of talcum powder. Prickly heat and chafe will ruin your day.
- Plan before opening the fridge. It’s a crime to stand in front of an open fridge door, wondering what you might like to eat. Think of the icecream and the prawns.
- On the subject of prawns, take the scraps to a bin far away. If you’re putting them in the freezer, double-bag them.
- Have an adequate supply of stubby coolers/holders.
- Keep up the supply of ice for the drinks.
- Sand is hot. Walk quickly, on tiptoes.
- Bitumen melts. Your thongs may stick to it.
- Bras are optional on a hot day, clothes minimal.
- Don’t swim in the middle of the day.
- Swim between the flags.
- No matter how hot it is and how clear and beautiful the water looks, take notice of the crocodile and stinger warnings. Achtung!
- March flies hurt. You may have to stay under water up to your chin and pull your hat down low.
- Eat that icecream quickly or it will melt and run down your arm.
- Fans, fans, fans – even in the air-conditioning.
- Drink lots of water. Your wee should be a pale lemon colour. Really!
- In a cyclone, shelter in the bathroom – it’s the safest place.
- Wear a hat. Akubras are good.
In Berlin, it’s snowing. Beautiful.
Drunks and homeless people may die of hyperthermia in snowy Europe. Here in Queensland, kids will play under sprinklers and dogs will be given frozen treats; and stubby holders will be in use on our verandah.
And phone calls will be made to family coming for Christmas lunch.
“Can you pick up a couple more bags of ice at the servo on your way?”
Cheers. And Happy Christmas.