The Joys of Winter

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What a marvellous time of year is the Queensland Winter! Gone is the heat and humidity of Summer, now is the time for blue skies and gentle sunshine during the day, and cold crisp nights that make cuddling up under the blankets a real delight. Yes, I am aware that this year we have been troubled by unseasonable rain, causing chaos and distress to so many folks, but it seems that at present we are being given some kind of respite.

At last, Winter has decided to behave itself, and for the last few weeks, at least at the time of writing this, we have had a taste of the glorious weather that makes an exPom, like myself, glad to be alive and full of energy. In my younger years, my husband and I would walk for miles in the Derbyshire Dales. We would take a bus from Sheffield Central Bus Station and dismount in either Buxton or Bakewell, small rural townships, and head out to the fields and footpaths beyond. Occasionally I would burst into song, so full of joy I was, leading to a cruel criticism from my partner in life who implored me to desist. This was followed by an accusation that I was disturbing his enjoyment of the peace and quiet of the countryside. Incomprehensible! His comment rankles still.

Perhaps, to be placed amongst those of present-day friends, who, equally lacking in any appreciation of my skills as a songstress, have, on several occasions, threatened to tie me to the roof racks of their vehicle if I did not cease my renditions of Hymns, Ancient and Modern. Equally mystifying! Once back in Australia, Don would take me to Stanthorpe for a long Winter weekend, hoping that I might actually see snow again. We never did, but there was frost aplenty, the temperatures dipping down to those of the proverbial “brass monkey”. Oh, how we enjoyed those big open fires in the local pubs, throwing out so much heat that we learnt not to select a table too close to them lest we got roasted. As compensation for any disappointment, I might be feeling about the lack of the white stuff, he told me about the meeting he had with some Australian friends whilst in London, who, on seeing snow for the first time in their lives, asked him, “Are they burning off in Hyde Park?”. A memorable phrase indeed!

Nowadays, the years have caught up with me and though I still like to dance in the privacy of my study to the music of my youth, partnered by my office chair, who never utters a word of complaint about my balletic skills, the long healthy walks of my prime seem to be beyond my endurance and comfort zone. I even found keeping up with my very fit twentyone-year-old grandson as we travelled the length of the Morayfield Shopping Centre and back again, somewhat difficult. Though I blame this on the non-moving escalator that one had to mountaineer up, before the straight run, followed by navigating the steep descent to finish, hopefully in one piece, at the car park. If nowadays, I am not quite as spry as once I was, I still find that I will take any excuse to blow the cobwebs away. At night-time, I sleep with my windows wide open, protected from those blood-sucking mosquitoes and other uninvited visitors by the fly screens. During the day, should I find myself feeling less than my usual cheerful self, I leap aboard my motorised scooter and head for the Great Outdoors. Not only do I find the fresh air invigorating, but I see so many of our avian friends. The flocks of Corellas, the Seagulls standing in formation, all pointing in the same direction, so lady-like compared with their greedy larger cousins down South, the Pelicans, Egrets and Spoonbills. The colourful Lorikeets with their constant chatter, yes, and though not everyone’s favourite, those snooty billed, scavenging Ibis. The Brush Turkeys appear, seeming to abound at this time of year, and so many more birds that I have no space to mention. And this is the time of year when I used to catch my favourite fish, small, chopper, Tailor!

If Nature was not enough to lift the spirits, one gets to meet such nice people! So different from being enclosed in your own bubble of space in a car. It would seem that there is an unofficial social club amongst drivers of mobility scooters. I have yet to meet a grumpy rider, we always acknowledge each other by smiles and waves and sometimes by a brief non-intrusive conversation. We can stop and make friends with dogs and their owners, all seem willing to take a few minutes out of their day, and no one appears to be in a rush, so different from car drivers whose impatience leads one to believe that their very lives depended on everyone travelling at the maximum speed that the law allows. In their defence, however, the sight of a scooter on a Zebra Crossing does seem to bring out the best in them, which I always acknowledge by a courteous thank-you wave. Pedestrians too, young or old, go out of their way to be helpful, allowing you to overtake them once they are aware of your presence. Ferrari 2 has a very loud horn, which can startle folk, so my usual way of warning that I wish to pass is to gently call out Beep, Beep! Quite sufficient, whilst avoiding any risk of heart attacks.

By the time I reach home any worries I might have had on setting out have been blown away, the Winter winds, having done their job so that I am restored to my usual cool, calm and collected self!