Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Lately it has been cold enough to freeze various parts of the body, here in Adelaide, but to those of you used to snow and ice our temperatures will make you roll around on the floor laughing. Our coldest day was probably a max of 10C, with most of the daylight part hovering around 8C. Now that is mighty cold here and I have heard people from Scotland saying they have never been so cold as when they were in Adelaide. Let me give you some examples of why this might be so....

Some of you will have read 'The Aussie Summer gardener' and know about the quintessential piece of Australian clothing for summer...the Stubbies Shorts. They are still available after decades of catering to the workmen and women who grace the local streets, leaning on their spades having a smoke, while their 25km/hour signs cripple the traffic flow and increase blood pressure amongst the motorists. Others who wear them are the lawn mowers and the builders, visible in every deli at midday as they buy their 600ml of Farmers Union Iced Coffee and a pie with sauce.

But, in Adelaide, such rugged types sport these stylish garments year round, giving no heed to the icy wind blowing off the Antarctic nor to the splash of cold mud sent up the legs by passing trucks and vans in winter. Moreover, the houses of Adelaide are sometimes devoid of any sort of heating because the occupants rely entirely on the warmth generated by pint after pint of cold beer providing a layer of fat known as the beer-pot to keep them warm.

We Adelaideans think nothing of running through the rain in winter without an umbrella or jacket and some under-25's like to show their midriff at the same time. Loving the sea as I do I always, every week, walk defiantly in the shallows there with my jeans rolled, my feet numb after the first few minutes. We all agree that 10C is not that cold so we will not accept that actually, when it is raining and the wind is truly coming off the south pole, it is bloody freezing here.

My winter heating consists of firewood which we grow ourselves and use when dry, so long as we get the timing right for the cutting of the trees, which is rare lately. Anyway I arrive home from somewhere, and by the time I say hello to the chooks, pull out a couple of weeds in the vegie garden and look over to the sea from my special spot, I am chilled to the bone and race inside to get by the fire.....only to find I forgot to stoke it up before I left home and it is nearly out. I know that if I dump my stuff in the front hall, grab the wheelbarrow from near the front door and hurry to the wood heap I might just get a load of wood inside before it rains again or I freeze to death!

I lift the barrow up a couple of steps to shorten the route to the wood heap, hurry along the long and winding path, lift up the tarp, throw into the wheelbarrow a range of sizes of wood which usually requires me to stumble up over a pile of the smaller wood because just out of reach I can see a few pieces that would be perfect. Back to the front door and into the tiled front hall with the full wheelbarrow I go. Then I transfer half the wood into an indoor trolley and roll it through the house, down 3 steps and to the fireplace where it is unloaded next to the fireplace. Then the second load is brought in, the wheelbarrow taken back outside, the trolley put away....

...And guess what? I am so hot I have to take off my jumper! Sometimes I don't even light the fire then at all! Instead of a cup of tea by a raging fire I settle for a glass of water in the kitchen and go right ahead with something else. The answer to keeping warm in winter is activity and lots of it.....and the experts say that wood is not an efficient way of heating...well it sure is if you have to cut it, stack it, collect it and bring it in yourself and if you do, you can be sure that you will be just as happy in your stubbies whether it be summer or winter, in Adelaide!


Deborah Cantrill said...

I think the saying is 'The woodcutter gets warm twice' But it more likley 7X cut,move,store,move, split, move & spead the ash.

Unknown said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Pity the nose stays cold... it is the only give away after all the heating activity... the runny nose!
You make me laugh in a good way!
So who will be wearing stubbies on Saturday? Hope you have fun and hope you have a lovely birthday today.. I for one will be REALLY REALLY feeling the cold when we venture outdoors this weekend. Guaranteed there will be no shorts in sight! Apparently we have a windy cold front and blizzardy conditions forcast for our little trip. BBBrrrrrrrrrr.
Wishing you all the very best of enjoyment and birthday fun.
Happy Birthday Kate.

Ian said...

Nice post Kate,

you paint a nice picture with your words. Lovely.

Funnily enough, by the time you get here on your world tour, it'll be time to split and move the firewood for our winter.......

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate
Hope your birthday goes well !

I shall not be there as I am otherwise pre-occupied with another birthday party !

Great post.. but it lacks a certain something.. A photo of " who " these stubbie shorts standing amidst the hail of the past day !


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