Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How to prepare for a hot day


The night before, water the plants. In the morning, erect a temporary shade cloth over the seedlings using an old red curtain and ropes; get the girls to hold the corners taut while you tie the knots. Place milk crates over any small plants that could use a bit of shade.

Fill the chooks' water container. Place it under the fig tree. Water the terracotta pots surrounding their dust bath. As long as you water them every few hours, they'll keep the chickens cool.

To rig up a shade over the back door, you'll need the ladder. Fetch it, extend it, and make it steady. Climb up, and tie a length of old clothesline to a veranda post. Thread the rope through the loops of another red curtain, then run it through a metal bracket on the opposite post. Knot it firmly – the wind will be strong. Pin the curtain wide on the rope with bulldog clips. Climb down and put the ladder away. Tie the bottom corners of the curtain to the veranda posts with short lengths of rope. Unroll the canvas awnings over the back veranda and make them fast. Kick yourself that you haven't ordered awnings for the front veranda, go inside, and add it to the list of jobs.

Close any windows. Draw the curtains. The bathroom is the hottest room, so shut the bathroom door. Notice the trickles of air coming in. Block them with a door snake at the front door, a green pillow at the back. Plug the disused keyhole with cotton wool. Climb up on a chair and fasten a sheet of aluminium foil to the window over the front door, shiny side out. Think about rigging up another old curtain between the front veranda posts to shade the front door, and decide it's inhospitable.

Fill the ice cube trays and put them in the freezer. Peel the bananas and freeze them in bags for an afternoon snack. Drop some cucumber into a jug of water and put it in the fridge.

Get out the fans, the jigsaws, the textas, the board games. Tell the kids to stay inside. Choose a book and stretch out in the big green chair; throw your legs over its arms.

Lose yourself. Around you, the house is a cave on a Greek island, shady, dark and cool. The house is a memory of rainforest light, dappled green and gold. The house is a ship. The awnings billow and rattle, the rafters creak. The red curtain has filled like a sail, the clouds, glimpsed through high windows, are scudding along, and you're sailing away to sea.

The Summer Book Master and Commander

(Books reviewed here and here.)

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