Summer’s breath

The delayed onset was appreciated but inevitably, and suddenly, the weather report predicted heatwaves.

I had a mandatory two-week vacation, starting at Christmas and rolling into the beginning of January. It’s called the Closedown. My plans for the Closedown melted away.

In the first few years after moving back to the Central West, I found summer to be a season of non-events. Ok, Christmas, yes. That’s an event. What I mean is that nothing productive happened for a couple of months because the heat knocked the wind out of me. It felt such a waste and, more worryingly, I honestly thought the brain fog signalled the start of dementia.

Thankfully, my problem-solving tendencies kicked in once autumn rolled round, when the surrounding oxygen levels returned to a more comfortable normal.

Did you know that heat reduces the amount of oxygen available for each breath? It’s one of those facts taught to school students. Perhaps a science teacher mentioned it during my youth thereby enabling the thought to bubble up when I needed it. Or I might have read it somewhere, or seen it on TV.

Check out this school lesson plan, kindly published by NASA (of all places!):

“Heating of the earth, which in turn heats the atmosphere, is responsible for the motions and movements of the air in the atmosphere. The faster molecules move, the hotter the air. As the molecules heat and move faster, they are moving apart. So air, like most other substances, expands when heated and contracts when cooled. Because there is more space between the molecules, the air is less dense than the surrounding matter and the hot air floats upward. This is the concept used in the hot air balloons. The air is heated by the burner and the expanding air becomes less dense, causing the balloon to rise through the denser, cooler surrounding air.”

This year, I’m much happier. Lots of little strategies that, together, ensure I’m not wasting an entire season; little things like always having bottled water on hand even though I don’t agree with the idea of bottled water when living near a first-class water treatment plant.

This year, there was a new test. How easy would it be to clear away all evidence of the holiday closedown and prepare for the return to work? I’ve invested a bit of effort these last two years improving the liveability and functionality of my home so that it is easy (relatively speaking) for one person to manage.

The answer: Beautifully easy.

Of course, it would have been even easier if I’d more thoroughly cleaned up after myself along the way but that would have taken time away from the ‘holiday’ projects.

The planned projects had been deliberately large in scale – finish the path to the shed and clean up the sparrow poop from all the eaves around the house. The path is still non-existent but progress was made each morning to deter the sparrows. The sparrows were a higher priority than the pavers.

The unplanned projects that filled the time where much smaller. Refresh the vegetable garden. Remodel two new shirts. Relax into bingeing my way through a couple of TV series. Refill the freezer.

On the list but not yet started, reformat the recipe collection. At the end of last year, I bought into the fancy air fryer/convection oven trend, finally. I can bake again, finally, but to make it worthwhile I need to get the recipe collection back under control. Perhaps one day.

For now, the first days of January have ticked along. The heat abated, and I’ve learnt about a ‘blocking high’ weather pattern that pulls cooler air up from Antarctica for days at a time for those of us lucky to be on the eastern side of the pressure system. The last couple of days have been absolutely delightful, with night temperatures hovering around 10 degrees C. Too late, alas, to make any progress on the path.

No matter.

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