It's not summer yet (and mountain summers can be underwhelming) but the shrill of cicadas has got me feeling nostalgic...
In my childhood memories it is always hot. Nothing ever moves quickly and even sounds are lazy and low. It’s about summer and fibro. Long weekends, blowflies and pink zinc.
About Dad wrangling the Victa through the backyard. Purring, spluttering past the wading pool littered with jacaranda confetti. Around the outlawed incinerator, then stalled, swearing and sweaty under the Hills hoist.
Me on a rusty swing, creaking to and fro, back and forth, bare toes tickling the buffalo grass. Running back to the house trying to avoid the biting black ants. Cool, lying flat out on the linoleum floor.
The radio’s murmuring that steady, reassuring rhythm of cricket. And a whirring fan pushes warm air around the room.
Mum’s upside down. I watch her walk into the kitchen, taking in her long legs first, then that spotty, lime green dress she made herself. Even upside down she looks beautiful.
Dad’s in the kitchen now. Big brown back, droplets of perspiration. Flag ale – ah that’s better. They smile.
It’s lunchtime. Our legs stick to orange vinyl and my brother makes squeaky fart sounds with his. We all giggle. There’s tepid cordial and ham left over from Christmas.
Mum makes a salad with tins of
pineapple rings and beetroot.
After lunch my brother and I escape. We put T-shirts on and rubber thongs, cause mum said to, and slip through the broken paling fence.
“G’day Bluey,” says Mr Farley ruffling my orange hair. “Hello little man,” he says to my brother. We grin.
Mr Farley takes photos. He invites us inside. Spooky and quiet in the dark red glow we watch as our mum appears, slowly, like a ghost floating in the developing tray. I like the acrid smell of the chemicals.
“Don’t touch now,” Mr Farley warns but he’s not angry – he likes us. He likes my mum too.
We come out into the glare and shield our eyes for a moment. Waving goodbye to Mr Farley we return to our world on the other side of the fence. Dad has the hose and a smile in his eyes.
We know what’s coming next and pretend to run away screaming as delicious spurts of water fall on backs, heads, legs. Soon we are soaking.
Dad turns the hose off. My brother goes inside and I go back to the swing. Overhead grey-black clouds are creeping up on our Sunday.
The air becomes thick and sweet, heavy with the smell of rain not too far away. There’s a distant rumble of thunder and for some reason I think about loneliness.
Then I hear something.
“Alas my love you do me wrong…” The sad, melancholy tinkling of Greensleeves.
“Come and get an ice cream,” calls my brother from the back door.
We swing our legs on the banana lounge; happy, gripping sticky, drippy Mr Whippy ice-creams as fat drops of rain from the afternoon thunder storm splat on the concrete path.