Oh, the joy of waking up on Boxing Day, with absolutely nothing planned except laundry and gardening, and hearing the rain starting to patter, then pour down. You know what that means? Now I have absolutely nothing planned at all, so I might as well stay in bed all day. From the sounds of quiet I expect everyone else in the house has the same idea.
I am also very, very happy because this is the first 'proper' rain we have had in about three months. We have had a very dry Spring, and a hot, dry December, and such rain as we have had has been in half-hearted showers, not a proper downpour. Here in Tasmania, which produces all of its home grown electricity via big hydro dams, we have been importing 40% of our electricity from Victoria for the last few months, via the Basslink cable laid across the seabed of Bass Strait, because our dams are down to around 25% of their capacity. Last week, the cable broke. Oops. It will take up to sixty days to fix it. I was listening to a Hydro representative on local radio who mentioned, as if in passing, that it might be a good idea for Hydro customers (ie, everyone in the state), to consider contingency plans... Mmhmm, you think so??
We are doing our bit to bolster the energy pool by producing about 50kW hours per day from our solar panels, but as they are grid-connected, if the grid goes down, so does our power. We have a gas stove-top and a gas barbecue, so we will be right for cooking and cups of tea (very important for morale), and we can swim in the pool instead of taking hot showers - however, the pool itself worries me, because in summer it only takes a couple of days with no filtration to start growing nasty slime. I'm still cross about that pool. The Man insisted on putting one in, and now he's gone, and I get to spend all Summer cleaning it... I do gaze at it thoughtfully sometimes, wondering if I could turn it into a fish farm, you know, like a medieval stew pond, send the children out to catch dinner..
But anyway, fingers crossed, if electricity does need to be rationed over the next two months, hopefully we get enough to keep the pool from turning into a giant penicillin petri dish.
All this is rather a long preamble to a discussion about Christmas dinner, which was lovely, by the way. What with our own family plus the two other families we always spend Christmas with, plus our grannies and another granny, and one of The Boy's friends who was home alone on Christmas Day, we had sixteen of us altogether sitting down to Christmas lunch, on the hottest Christmas Day I can remember here in Tasmania, topping out at 29C (84F). Usually we have lunch in our sunken courtyard right outside the back door, at a long table under a big umbrella. That is, except for the years when it a) rains or b) hails or c) is so cold that we actually light the fire (disclaimer, ok, b and c only happened once).
Benson wondering when the silly-hat-season will be over
Yesterday was so hot that we couldn't eat inside (no air-conditioning, many bodies) and I thought we would probably also roast like a traditional Christmas dinner in the courtyard (afternoon sun beating down), so I had The Boy and my dad move our table up under the pear tree in the back yard. Actually, we have a pear tree and a plum tree growing close enough together that we normally string a hammock between them, and they provided magnificent deep shade all afternoon for our table plus room for sixteen guests, plus one of the day beds from up at the pool, as one of our guests has recently had spinal surgery and needed to recline.
It was a wonderful solution - we were quite cool, and caught every breeze, were close enough to be able to watch the children in the pool, and as one of the guests noted, the difference between the shade of a tree and an umbrella is that the tree funnels hot air up through its leaves like a chimney, whereas the umbrella just traps it.
My actual point, which I am finally getting to now, is that previously on a hot day I shut up the whole house to preserve the overnight indoor coolth, and did very little except droop dejectedly in front of a fan. The outside seemed far to hot to venture into. Now I have realised that we have what is effectively a lovely outdoor room under our fruit trees that we can repair to during the long, hot afternoons of Summer. Up to now I have looked out at the shade far away across the burning hot
Now, I know many of you are reading this and thinking, "Huh! 29C isn't hot!" But all I can say is that if you haven't experienced the Tasmanian sun, you can't imagine how hot 29C can be. My parents, who regularly experience 40C (104F) days in Adelaide both agree that in the full sun, Tasmania is much hotter than the equivalent temperature in other parts of Australia. Why? No idea. Is it the hole in the ozone layer right over Tassie? Or that we are further from the equator and the angle of the sun is different? Maybe it is our clear blue skies? No idea, but for whatever reason, we try to avoid the sun on hot days here.. it burns, it burns.. we often don't even use the pool on hot afternoons because the deck is so burning hot, even under an umbrella.
So now I am planning some thrifted wicker furniture to add to the hammock under the fruit trees to make use of another space in our little family estate, to expand the hours we can spend in the pool, to reduce the hours we need to spend in a dark room with the fan on. Honestly, I just can't believe I never spent a hot afternoon in the shade of our trees before. It makes me wonder, how many other corners of our property are totally under-utilised right now?
Here's hoping that your Christmas was as happy, warm (if only in the metaphorical sense), breezy and friendly as mine was, and that your Boxing Day is just as relaxing and non-productive as mine is.. left-overs, I just love left-overs..
Finally, a Christmas craft I feel I am really good at - tying string around Mason jars and filling them with baubles.