Saturday, 25 August 2007

Grist for the mill

Reading the ABC headlines yesterday, the following statements leapt off the page at me. First, “The weather bureau says the current low pressure system over south-east Queensland is “a freak event” that has not been seen in Australia since the 1800s.” And the self-same bureau “says the rain in Queensland's parched south-east is a one in a 100-year event, making it the wettest August since the late 1800s.”

I imagine the Jaeckels leaving Hamburg in mid-April, glad to be departing in one of the more favourable sailing months. Standing on deck shivering in the early spring drizzle, they might have imagined the scene on their arrival. They would have heard tales of the heat, the tropical-seeming humidity and sun, perhaps even of the dry, westerly winds of August. Instead they arrived in pouring rain and howling gale, their ship scudding down the inlet between the offshore islands and the mouth of the Brisbane River. Shivering in the cold, wind and rain, they felt at home, thinking perhaps that this new land might not be so different.

But there is the oddity of a hot Christmas on the horizon and the blazing heat of January and February come in their turn. By this time, excitement has changed to the knowledge that they really are in a new country.

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