I can hardly move, but, I can report, with a note of triumph in my voice, that this is not because of the stresses and strains of the debut netball game, nerve-racking and physically challenging though that was. The muscle burnout is actually as a result of over enthusiastic dancing last night. We have been uncharacteristically social over the last couple of weekends, with a financial markets dance last night in Melbourne and a surprise fiftieth for a great friend last weekend. The band at the dance last night judged their target market pretty accurately in terms of playing songs that were guaranteed to have the comparative oldies mouthing along. We finished up with the Rocky Horror Picture Show and “Let’s Do the Time Warp Again,” which brought back vivid memories for me of being a teenager in Glasgow and lining up as a gang to “Jump to left” and “Step to the right” the all the way down the hallway at one particular party.
Last week’s birthday bash was held in a shearing shed in Mudgee, a country town about three and a half hours outside Sydney, renowned for food and wine. The omens were not looking good as we drove out to Mudgee over the Blue Mountains. I assumed the large white flakes whirling around the car were some bizarre type of antipodean blossom, it transpired however that we were travelling through a snow storm. Australia does get snow, witness all those devastatingly good-looking Aussie ski instructors haunting European ski slopes, but not usually in October. Australian snow also generally falls in places like the evocatively named Snowy Mountains, those early explorers not being lost for a descriptive name or two, rather than the outskirts of Sydney. Turning the car heater to full, I mentally reviewed my outfit for the shearing shed shindig, and tried to work out whether the trusty black dress would lend itself to layering with every other available garment in my overnight bag including pajamas (fortunately also black). In a moment of foresight based on a pretty grim forecast of low temperatures, I had unearthed a pair of cashmere tights my mother gave me some years ago. I think probably when we lived in the coldest house in the world in Rye, New York, as I can’t think even in the most absentminded moment she would have judged them a suitable gift for the Sydney climate. As it was, I shouldn’t have lost faith with our hostess who had imported heaters and created a spectacular, romantic setting for the evening.
Snow aside, it has been a red-letter week on the weather front for New South Wales, the state of which Sydney is the capital. (I do apologize for treating everyone as geography retards, but I am never sure who knows what about the Australian state and federal set up—though I am anticipating that after Oprah transfers her whole show down under in December, Australia will move centre stage on the American radar.) Anyway, back to the weather. This week New South Wales moved 100 percent out of drought. Given that since 2001 there have constantly been districts suffering drought or rated as marginal, and that this time last year 95 percent of the state was judged to be in drought, suddenly being flush with water is an amazing concept and there are stunning pictures of areas of wetland and marsh in central districts flooding, with bird and plant life miraculously being restored.