The air filled with the promise of summer.
The monsoon hit us like a hammer. Hot, sticky summer days where the humidity pressed down like a blanket made of lead, and even the wallabies thought twice before bounding away at the sight of a human. The pandanus on the river banks waved, not because there was a breeze but because the heat-haze shimmer made everything somehow less solid. Except for the heat and the sunlight, which were as real as a punch in the jaw.
Air conditioners buzzed and spluttered and choked on the thick red dust kicked up by passing cars, and flies swarmed eyes, noses, mouths. People lolled listlessly in the shade - only 37 degrees! - and the neighbour's dog didn't even bother wagging its tail when visitors came calling. The humidity was so thick it was like breathing treacle.
We wondered if maybe the serpent sleeping deep in the waters of the gorge was angry, as November trickled into December, and Christmas came as dry as the overcooked turkey. The sky was a brilliant blue, a Pantone shade titled 'Heat and Hopelessness (Where're the Clouds?!)'.
And then, the other hammer hit us.
Hammer of the gods, Mjolnir, announced the storm with thunder rolling loud across the plains. It tumbled and crashed over the escarpment and vibrated in the bones of the land. Not just a sound, but a sensation. The pounding of rain on the tin roof, the sound of it sizzling on the bitumen. Small children and grown adults running around in soaked t-shirts and thongs, laughing. The heavy grey clouds hung low and poured their contents onto a land that drank it up and begged for more. Red mud slurry flowing down the streets, and reports of crocodiles in the hot springs. Hair plastered against our heads, we lay on the lawns or on roofs or sidewalks and tasted summer on our lips.
And then all that was left was a steamy heat haze, and we waited once more.
Author’s note: for those of you not familiar with Australian vernacular, in Aus a ‘thong’ is a flip-flop sandal, not a piece of lingerie. Those are ‘g-strings’, if you were wondering.