Thursday, December 04, 2003

Puff the Magic Dragon

I really knew winter was here when I stepped out of the house one day and the ground was covered in frost. Sure, Australia sees frost, so the shimmering swards of grass on Hatfield Mead were not a surprise. What was a surprise however were the frosted sidewalks, which I had to negotiate so very carefully for about 500 meters. Every drop of water on a surface was frozen - I had certainly never seen frosted concrete and tar before. I haven’t seen it since either, so thankfully I have not needed ice-skates to get to the bus again. As I turn out of Hatfield Mead each morning to go to the bus, I look out across Morden Park, and on a clear day it is a sight that never fails to remind me I am in another country. The bare branched trees are many-masted ships ghosting above the mist that obscures their trunks and the grass completely veiled in silver frost. I now understand what crystal-clear air is about ... nothing else really describes the biting crispness of the atmosphere on a cloudless day, you feel as if you could see forever. Overcast days are absolutely no fun, though they are that little bit warmer. Sometimes the sun is even out (gasp!) and there is a wash of orange on the mist and red on the grass so it looks many degrees warmer than it is.

The most entertaining part of the morning for me is my blissful ‘Puff the Magic Dragon' moments. Whenever Perth was cold enough for your breath to steam I would act like a child and pant and huff as much as possible to get a tiny wisp of steam. So naturally, each morning as I mope out the door into the cutting wind and biting air, the only thing that cheers me up is a good, long exhalation so I can stride out in my own personal cloud of steam - guaranteed to brighten anyone’s morning. The only sight that cheers me up more than watching a column of steam rising up from a well peopled bus stop, is the sight of the morning runners, bundled up like eskimos and trailing steam like the Hogwarts Express.