Saturday, February 07, 2009

Summer has certainly arrived here...
Many places in New South Wales are expecting 43C (109.4 F)-47C (116.6 F) tomorrow Some places out west will be 50Celsius. Thats an unbearable 122 F.

I can remember its being this hot when I was a kid, so I am not convinced its global Warming, as people are having extremes of cold in the Northern hemisphere. There are many weather cycles which are natural and part of how the planet has fuctioned for some time. This hot summer is mild compared to some. During the sixties it would be this hot for ten days straight, then a few clouds, no rain and back to hot again. The furniture inside our house was warm to touch and there was no escape at night, even sleeping on the verandahs. We had no fans nor any cooling at all. I don't know how people don't go mad when its like this. As kids it was okay because we would be swimming or whatever. School was a nightmare and the nuns didn't spare the cane because of the heat...maybe they were worse dressed head to toe in yards of black thick cotton.

Dad would come home in his lunch break from the meat works and totally change his clothes because they'd be wet through as if he'd been swimming. I remember him swallowing salt tablets and having dreadful leg cramps at nigh time because of the lack of salt in his system from sweating.

Now here's the thing...mum and dad never wore deodorant, we were restricted with water and all shared the one bath at times...I do not remember either of them having that B.O. smell that we notice within hours after a shower if we forget deodorant.

I don't remember any of the old people smelling offensively...a few drunks maybe but not the others. I figure that they must have had a lot of Pommie baths,

So I wonder why we all use deodorant. What has changed so that even after a shower we need deodorant. I can only ever recall mum having a lovely sunlight soap smell...a smell which wafted into my home many a time after she died, almost 16 years ago now.

I managed to convert to the mineral stone which comes now in a container and you just have to put water on it...but all my sisters and all the adults I know close enough to know, use chemical deodorant. I got off that one because of its links with breast cancer.

Have we become more sensitive towards any smells like normal body smells so that we don't feel clean and consider others unclean if they don't smell like some fake flower or something.

Its become a funny world. I think back to the early 60's and i can remember things, how we did things...there was no tele till 1967...what did we do at night...I can't remember being bored...and yes i did watch the test Pattern when tele first came to our house. We had an outdoors toilet which the sanitary man employed by the council came and emptied once a week. It was a bit high in summer. I remember sometimes when dad was away working if it got too maggoty or too full Mum would somehow get it down the back yard (this was in a country town) about an acre away from the house and dig a hole and bury it.

We'd be there with her carrying a pick or shovel, for all the world like we were having a party.

The fuel stove kept everyone warm in winter and the hot water was always singing on the stove... Only on the very hottest days did that fire go out and then only after dinner (lunch) So we'd have cold teas.

The old people would sit out on the verandahs of any house we were in visiting or our home, and you would hear them talking away till you couldn't stay awake...I can't remember what they said, but every so often a hail of laughter would bring me awake again...till I gave in. Any joke going had my attention.

Some time ago I posted the following...way back... I wrote it for some family history I was putting together in the early 90's, which sits in a large black ring binder... Some will have read it, but most not. The heat today reminded me of was a great time to be a kid, but then my girls say it was a great time to be a kid in the 1980's maybe its always a great time to be a kid, just that if you have had a happy childhood, no one elses childhood seems as good as the one you lived inside. Thats how I feel anyway.


I look at my 'child' photos and the memories come back in wave
after wave. Waves of sunshine and winter; waves of sweetness and
sorrow. Each little detail stirs a memory that stirs a flood of
other memories that I thought were gone. The large cement
rectangle, near the back door of our house in Aberdeen which used
to be the base of the back part of our house, and on which stood
the kitchen, bathroom and laundry, and which fell to white ants,
long before I was born, and before my family came to live there.

That cement still burns my feet, cold-hot. My hardened child
feet, test the level of my endurance in the high summers of my
long ago. That cement bore witness to many baptisms by hose, in
the bright heat of summer as we took our turns to have the
baptisimal rites said over us, each in turn, religiously cooled
by the experience. But to sit on the large high tank stand and
hold that hose, ah, that was the privilege.

Endless games of rounders, focused on the long gone rectangle.
The bases which were trees, still stand as witnesses that these
games of young life occurred. "Queenie, Queenie, whose got the
ball?", the childish voices of sisters, friends, sometimes
enemies and myself, chorus out in my mind. I know every beat and
note of that game. Skipping, games of 'fly' were all focused
around that patch of cement.

Mum was always somewhere inside that large old house, almost
always. So sure of this were we all the time that we never even
thought about it. Dad generally did all the outside work, when he
was home, but it often seemed to fall to mum to bury the contents
of our outside toilet, whose large pan always got close to
overflowing at Christmas times, in the intense heat of the inland
summer. As a child fascinated by the event, the maggots and the
whole event of the burying, I can remember her delicately picking
her way down the back yard, hauling this very heavy and unstable
container of her family's wastes. Pick and shovel at the ready.
Those years of boarding school could never have prepared her for
this task and yet she never seem to lose her temper, get dirty or
forget her unique dignity.

The yard we played in was large, interesting and safe.
Imagination could reign free and the back yard was many things.
Childhood days seemed eternal. I share all this with my sisters
and the bond of home and yard goes very deep. I still remember
the piles of tree nuts we would gather into tins and piles. We
would form teams and pelt these hard projectiles at one another
without thought of eye loss. Didn't I throw a tomato stake over
the old paling fence once which landed right between my sister
June's eyes. By accident of course.

I see the old tin pedal car that belonged to us all at different
times, but was originally Veronica's. Then even further back an
old tin pram, a scooter and a battered old Dinky which were both
repainted, every time they were handed down to the next child
they fitted. They were ours, in those days, only as long as we
used them, and as soon as we moved on to other things, 'ours'
would be revamped and hammered smooth by dad to be presented to
the next in line. I never recall being disappointed that these
toys were old. They always felt new, by virtue of their being
given to me, and re painted. It was a good feeling.

When I was about nine a small blow up paddle pool appeared in the
yard one Christmas.Dad covered it with a tarpaulin shade. It was
heaven just to lie in this cramped little space and pretend it
was much bigger and that you were really swimming. There is a
photo of this arrangement, and mum stands in the photo, younger
than I, arms folded and laughing cheekily out at the camera. I
see photos of the large yard, in my childhood, always mowed and
trimmed, sometimes even with flowers on the edge of the driveway,
and realise that dad did much more in the yard than my childish
mind realised.

We are all five of us, the children of then, adults now. Some of
us even have adult children of our own. I can still feel the
burning heat of those long summers, in our yard, I still remember
eating water-melons out in the yard, on the late summer evenings
and playing endless games of hide and seek in the dark. Through
it all, and with all that went on in the outside world, the home
and back yard was the private world of the family to be who and
what it wanted to be without interference, from outside the
paling fences."

When it is this hot the death rate rises amongst the elderly and frail


Pat said...

I have similar childhood summer memories as you, MC. Personally, I think the lack of BO back then had a lot to do with the fact there was no AC, and everyone did sweat so much and so freely. Just a theory. But one that makes sense maybe? Sweating freely back then ... as opposed to all sorts of attempts at 'retaining' 'keeping it in - hiding it' and 'restricting' these days (eg, deodorants, AC, etc.) Kinda sorta makes sense that a body allowed to "cleanse" itself freely by excreting wastes is bound to smell tons better than one forced to retain all of its waste products!

Mom said...

What wonderful, sweet memories.
I agree that anytime is a good time to be a kid if your childhood is happy.
I'm not sure i could handle your way too hot summers.

Jules said...

I also think that what we eat now is worse and gets sweated out terribly. We have terrible high sodium, high fake, diets. Our bodies must struggle with the toxins, cos I'm sure that poo smells way worse these days than it did when I was a kid. I don't recall it being so vile a smell as it is now.