Monday, 11 August 2014

FROZEN in Perth

Winter in Western Australia, how do I explain it?  Let me step back a minute.

 I grew up in Montreal and my clearest recollections of Winter were salt-stained boots, freezing toes, snow plows, snow drifts taller than me, digging my car out, and slipping on the glacier of uneven ice that thawed and refroze above the Guy-Concordia metro station. 


No exaggeration!
After leaving Montreal, we spent nearly 8 years in that Winter capital Calgary.  My blocked-out clearest recollections are taking Murphy out for a final evening walk and near flash-freezing, skiing at minimum temperatures of -20c, and planes being delayed due to long queues for de-icing.  

Ah the joys of air travel during Canadian Winters

OK, Winter does have some charms (Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta)

Moving on, we had 5 years of Winter in Geneva, a serious improvement over Canadian Winters.  Skiing at normal temperatures, few blizzards, but we still had that northern blast known as "La Bise" to contend with which could whip the Lake into a frenzy and render cars and benches into instant ice sculptures.

The effects of La Bise in Geneva

Melbourne for 3 years was again an improvement, but I still wore boots and a winter jacket; we still used our fireplace....a lot.  It just never snowed and I never wore gloves.

Now we have arrived in Perth where central heating is rare, where everyone uses an exterior clothes line, not a dryer, yet the Winter rain comes down in sheets, and the wind whips stinging water into your eyes, and an umbrella will not prevent a drenching.   Clothes stay wet  and soggy on the line waiting for a dry day between storms.  We sleep under our Canadian-weight duvet (called a doona here), and wear Uggs as slippers, as they're supposed to be worn.

All of this Winter fun is feted in the city for two weeks in July known as Perth's Winter Wonderland.
It is celebrated with outdoor ice-skating venues (where the ice is half-melted), an artificial snow ramp for tobogganing, artificial snow balls being launched into the air to the squeals of children who have never known the joys of -30.
J at Perth's Winter Wonderland last month

In fact, Winter is sufficiently regarded in these parts that J's class recently presented a performance of "Frozen".  J was the King, I think he looks very kingly...even if he did send Elsa to her room for 10 years.

All of this lasts....about five weeks...then Winter is over, O...V...E...R, as in good-bye rain, hello warm sun on my face, good-bye heavy duvet, hello crazy 11-year olds swimming in the ocean waves (it is still technically Winter), and welcome back shorts and t-shirts.

Cottesloe Beach last Saturday

J and his mate T braving the Winter waves

That's how I explain Winter in Perth.


Jen said...

While your winter sounds a bit icky, I am once again seriously dreading ours this year..... I appreciate your description as I had been wondering what it was like there!

Guess you will have to come back home for some real winter :)

Sheila Cook said...

Seriously????? I wanna winter like you have in Perth. Your rainy winter is our beautiful summer in London!!! I wanna be on the beach...
PS - Loving your blog, as always. xx

Melissa Miller said...

I fully expect my winter in Seattle to be incredibly different. Bring an extra bag when you come and smuggle me back with you!