It hasn’t actually been hot since mid-2019
Finally! Summer is here. I know it is summer because I just willingly took a cold shower before bed. That means it is Hot. And I haven’t been hot since approximately July 2019. Which is odd, because I’ve been in Australia, land of bushfires, since January 2020.
Willingly is a key word. I have taken many cold showers in the intervening period: during the summer in which on no day did I not wear a jumper down in Warrnambool; during a windy, cold autumn desperately trying to learn to play tennis in Terang; during the actual Australian winter, eating dinner in torrential rain in a three-sided shelter and sleeping in a hoody with a hot water bottle in the van; in the spring, after one too many cold swims in the rain while the hot water merrily ran out in our new flat. And elsewhere there were bushfires — absurd!
A cold shower is almost never my preference. I’d prefer to scald myself or emerge close to fainting any other time of the year. But when it is humid and above 20°, a hot shower does not aid the sleep. Any warmer, and the fan goes on and a cold water bottle. I am a very delicate sleeper.
In other news, my wife and I recently bought new pets, and I am very excited to walk the fine line of not letting them die, and in fact encouraging them to prosper. They are van-friendly pets; in fact, they are plants.
Our last pet was a sweet little calico kitten that had to be given to a family friend when we moved into the van. The new pets are a tomato plant and a strawberry plant.
“You know, this might be the time we ever have to buy strawberries,” I tell my wife, leaping from the van as we arrive home. The strawberry is a three-inch tall, yet-to-flower straggly thing.
“Maybe,” he says, ever the optimist.
We deposit them in a new planter that is designed to hang from a rail and which we hope will dangle from the van window whenever we are stationary. I overeagerly spritz everything with my new “mister”, an overpriced spray bottle from Bunnings, and wait for them to die from over watering.
That night, it is 24°C and still. I simmer, gently, on top of the covers. I think, I am cooking too fast. By the time morning comes I will be dried out and inedible.
Around 2am I have an epiphany. The mister! I get up, causing the bed to shake and squeak and mist myself liberally in front of the fan. It is so lovely and cooling I immediately wake my wife.
“Are you too hot?” I whisper urgently. He makes an unintelligible noise. “Let me mist you.” He agrees with a grunt to one spritz, loudly and immediately says “That’s enough,” and rolls over and back to sleep, clearly unimpressed by my genius invention. When he rolls over the mattress bounces so much it almost ejects me onto the floor. Meanwhile, I lay there spritzing myself with a fine, warm mist, happy, if no longer asleep.