Dappled rays of light filter through the leopard tree’s leaves. Birds perch on powerlines, chirruping, cawing and warbling to one another. A flawless blue splays out across the bowl of the sky. Though there is a breeze the world has a settled feeling. This is what winter looks like in Queensland. The sun shines almost every day and when it does rain it’s warm and refreshing. Despite the glory of a winter’s day in Brisbane, today is cold inside. The keyboard is cold. The floorboards are cold. My feet are cold. Houses in Queensland have no central heating, it’s just not necessary, but this 30 year old two story takes a while to feel the benefit of the subtropical sun. Right now, outside is warmed than inside. Even the dogs have absconded to the front veranda where they will remain until the sun is too high to reach them. At around 1pm the big one will start whining, demanding to be moved to the back veranda where His Highness can continue to bask in the sun that was made for him. The little one will shadow his every move. She’s his pet, not mine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’ve been much colder: I was in the Adirondacks, staying in a gorgeous cabin beside a frozen lake. It was January I think. My friend and I had been inside for a couple of days and decided it would be good for us to take a walk. It had snowed the night before but now the sun was shining and it seemed like a glorious day to wander through the wilderness. About ten minutes into the walk my friend asked me if my thighs burned. They did and I said as much. We decided to up the pace, hoping the brisk walk would get our blood circulating and warm our bodies; besides we figured if we did a loop we’d be back at the cabin quicker than if we doubled back. We were wrong. Very wrong. The walk took us onto an exposed road. It was a wind tunnel. By now our cheeks, hands and feet were burning. We looked as miserable as two women can be. By the time we got back to the cabin our faces were crimson and our legs burning. We both had the beginnings of frost bite. It took nearly three hours to warm up. The worst part was the humiliation of being admonished by the cabin owner for not understanding the environment. I consider myself a sensible person, I’d lived in cold countries before, frolicked in the snow even – in New Zealand our toilet water used to free in winter and the towels would snap in half if they were left on the line overnight, but I was still able to walk to school, play outside on frosty mornings and withstand temperatures below freezing. Had something changed in me or was this wilderness different? This was a cold like I’d never felt before. Even writing about it makes me feel chilly. It was nothing like the world I was used to back home where the slogan is Queensland: beautiful one day, perfect the next.
Have you ever been caught in a situation where you’d underestimated the weather or your own ability to withstand it? The idea here is not just to write about the weather, but to make it interesting, to give it personal meaning.