I am absolutely terrified of summer. I am also getting extremely excited about summer.
Not in that so-excited-it’s-terrifying weird compound emotion fashion–the stuff that’s exciting is pretty much just flat-out exciting. It’s more that the next few months (summer, remember, is flipped down under–it means something roughly along the lines of November-February) contain both thrilling possibilities and aspects–well, one aspect–which strikes fear into the heart of mortal man.
The terrifying aspect is the Humid. You should see Australians talk about it, it’s extraordinary. You can be having a perfectly pleasant conversation, which then turns onto the subject of summer. And either you or they mentions that, being from a chilly and northern clime, all this heat malarkey might come as a bit of a surprise. Well, yes, you laugh, not laughing at all on the inside. You’ve heard rumours of 40 degrees, which is a temperature so far outside your normal scope of experience that you’re not entirely sure your body can actually live through it without all your cell membranes melting, leaving you a sticky mess of uninhibited nuclei.
And they’ll nod, and laugh, and say yes, it’s pretty hot. But that’s not the worst of it, the worst is that it gets so—
And here their faces contort as though their lips were trying to escape from their skull, their eyes bulge, their pores scream in silent terror. And then, with the sort of horrified reverence usually reserved for Japanese fishermen sighting Godzilla, they half-whisper, half-scream: “HHHHYUUUUMMMIIIIIDDD.”
That is an exaggeration. But not a lie…at least in spirit. I do genuinely get a little rush of pure primal fear every time the word gets said, just because of the awe imparted in its pronunciation. Imagine the natives of Skull Island anticipating the coming of Kong. Or the fishermen of Black Lake discussing Old Greg, if you prefer.
So what’s to be done? Well, I could make myself clothes out of ice, and walk around in a clinky ice-suit. The first problem that came to mind was that the ice-suit would melt, but the answer to that one is pretty obvious. All that means is that the ice-suit needs an ice-suit of its own. Simple.
The other option is to run away. Far, far away, where the Humid’s dominion is weakened by proximity to the poles. The north pole is a bit too far away to be practical, giving that approaching it would first mean venturing yet further into the Humid’s equatorial lair. Which means; south.
Happily, this is where the extremely exciting stuff comes in. I am starting to roughly pull together some Travel Plans. And this is exciting. A few things have fallen nicely into place on this–firstly, it turned out that Morgan and a friend of hers were doing an Adelaide-Melbourne road trip around the end of November, and were happy for me to tag along. This seemed like the perfect way to kick off a summer of merrily jetting around Aus molesting the wildlife and getting chased by dingoes, but I was a bit worried about work. De Groots media demand one restaurant profile per week for their website, and obviously if I was away for longer than a week this would be a bit trickier. So I emailed my editor Edwina about this, and she replied that not only was doing more than one in advance okay, but it was actually better, and did I fancy getting the rest of the year out of the way as soon as possible?
Awesome. So a starting point (a flight to Adelaide) and sufficient funds to not die en route are set. The third exciting thing, which I haven’t confirmed yet but am increasingly leaning towards, is an all-over-Australia 6 month rail pass which my parents somehow came across online. It would mean a pretty steep initial outlay, but once I’d paid that–well, I’d have 6 months of hopping on and off trains, wandering around this stupidly oversized country however I felt like. The 6 month duration would extend to Easter, as well, meaning that once the Humid has died again (like the Fisher King, awaiting rebirth. Although if ever there was a Waste Land…) I could venture north to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, after spending my summer exploring the southern cities. If anyone I knew happened to be travelling at the same time, I could coincide with them, meet up in random spots. I could do Christmas in Canberra. New Year in New Yo- um, Naple- no, ehhh, Newcas- eh…Sydney. Fuck it, I could go to Perth. Cross an entire continent* on a train just to say I had.
All of this is completely and utterly in potentia. I haven’t bought the ticket, I haven’t done all those restaurants yet, I haven’t sat around and added up how much hostels and food and stuff would cost, and whether I would be able to survive. But even if I don’t do that specific plan — although I imagine I will — it’s at the very least certain that I’m’a be doing something, starting with (or at least containing) Adelaide in one month’s time.
Always assuming that the Humid doesn’t get me first.
*the world’s smallest, although they seem to be prouder of being the world’s largest island.