Aaahhhh, December in Australia. The start of summer. The start of long, hot, blue-sky days. Beach days, barbecue days, picnic, fishing and outdoors days. School-free, work-free, carefree. Holidays spent swimming, surfing, sailing, and sunning. The first of the month sets off a scramble to post Christmas cards with pictures of snowmen and red-suited Santas, all the while knowing we will spend the 25th sweltering in shorts and sunnies, eating fresh prawns; and making sure we are near a tellie on Boxing Day, so no-one misses the start of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race . . . or the cricket (okay, that second one is an optional extra for me).
Well, that’s how I remember it anyway, before 24/7 shopping, workforce casualisation, and global warming. Yet it can’t ever have been true for all of Australia, as temperatures above the Tropic of Capricorn get too hot for staying outdoors long, and it is monsoon season in the Top End. Plus there never has been a time when everyone was on holidays at once.
All the same, dodgy rose-coloured memories aside, our weather is quirky now. Nothing is reliable any more. Some days are bright, some are overcast. Some days are both from one hour to the next. At the beginning of the month I was at the beach sure enough, and the day became so unexpectedly bright that I got sunburnt! Okay, well, maybe I wasn’t bright enough to lather the sunscreen, but hey! I am olive skinned and I’d needed a jacket the day before. And anyway I thought that hole in the ozone layer was plugged years back!
A week later we notice smoke on the top of the escarpment behind our coastal village. It’s a bushfire, closer than we have experienced in our seven years here. Close enough to shut the main highway, not close enough to threaten us. What caused it? Who knows? We only know the temperature shifted ten degrees Celsius from one day to the next.
About four days later, which is just recently, we had a tornado. I KID YOU NOT. . . . A . . . TORNADO! . . . Bill and I watched it roll along the ocean from the south. The spray whipping up looked like a massive wave, something like a tsunami but not as dense with water. At first it stretched along the horizon, rolling along, and forming a connection between sea and sky. Then we watched it swirl up into a waterspout, and as it moved north, out of our sight, it must have come closer to shore, and when it hit land, it hit hard! If you don’t believe me, here is just one news article on the destruction it caused.
In between these two events we filmed the in-studio segment of “The Good Life” Episode 3. The weather that day started out fine and hot enough. But by early evening thunder storms were rolling in. To avoid the sensitive microphones picking up any stray rumblings – and, for goodness sake, I didn’t want any chance of hail on ‘Red Dwarf’* which was parked in the open – we pushed through the news reading.
(* aka our “Fiery Red” Hyundai i30. We used to have a Blue Mitsubishi Magna – a larger car I nick-named “The Blue Beast”.)
I had a small problem though. What is the correct pronunciation of CONTROVERSY in the current vernacular? Left to myself, I give each syllable a light equal weight con-tro-ver-sy.
Apparently though, the preferred pronunciation is conTROversy. This seems to emphasise the word, that it has caused two schools of thought, as in: created one thing that is CONTRO to another.
On the other hand, when I lived in Leeds (England) for a short time in the late 70s, I noticed Northerners had a habit of coming down very hard on the first syllable of any word starting with ‘con’. So I guess their preferred pronunciation would be “CONtroversy”.
Pete Gatwood and me return to the sticky subject of pronunciation in the Cooking Segment. How should we pronounce ‘Oregano‘? I am part Italian. I follow the rule, ‘when in Rome, speak as the Romans do.’ So – I threw in a variation using full-on ‘Ocker’ Australian. After all, the dried herb we were using was made? grown? in Australia. That’s another thing you can never be sure of these days . . . perhaps it was “dried in Australia using imported ingredients”.
Pete and me filmed outdoors earlier this week, and guess what? It was blowing a gale. It was blowing so hard, that when he tried to pour oil into a presentation jug, the oil blew sideways!
So . . . that has only taken 800 words for me to present . . . TA DAAAH!!!
Episode 3 of The Good Life YouTube Channel for over 55s,
The cooking segment starts at 18.39. Relativity, the production team, has managed to edit down to about half of what was filmed. They do a good job with continuity and post-production don’t you think?
(and it wouldn’t be an Aussie barbecue unless the flies turn up when the food is served. That is the black spot on my cheek just as I am about to eat the prawn).
Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy, and Safe Festive Season. I hope it is filled with family and friends, and much love and laughter, Garrulous Gwendoline, Wollongong, 20 Dec 2015