Hear AND Read? OK –
Life is Mostly Froth and Bubble
It was another stifling day in the West Australian wheat belt, in a heat wave that hadn’t seen an evening temperature below 90°F (32°C) for more than two weeks. We were not yet adjusted to the sun’s relentless demands on our energies and enthusiasm. Even our daily after-lunch siesta had been proving inadequate to replace our ‘get up and go’ that seemed to have ‘gotten up and gone’—without us. Surely an early night would be the solution? Sounded good, but we soon found sleep impossible. The sun may have set but its memory lingered—with a vengeance.Brainstorm number one that night was to thoroughly wet two thirsty bath towels, wring them out and lie on top of them.
“How does the jingle go?—’Oh what a feeling'” Kanute smirks as the memory unfolds. I chuckle to myself. In retrospect, this was one of our funnier moments.
“It was delicious! There’s no other word for it.”
We turned ourselves regularly to be well done (or in this case, well cooled), on each side. A few hours of light sleep later, we needed to repeat the procedure, but we didn’t mind; anything was worth this welcome relief, no matter how temporary. Abruptly, we were both awake again. The softest breath of air came floating through the tall, slim French doors of our bedroom, gently caressing our bodies. A miracle called a breeze had begun.
“It’s the cool change starting, I think!” I whispered to Kanute.
“Shh. Don’t say cool change out loud. You might frighten it away!”
And so we waited—quietly, nervously, hopefully. We barely breathed as the slight movement did become a breeze, slowly but surely getting stronger and cooler. At that moment, we couldn’t have felt more jubilant if we’d won a lottery. The wet towels had made the hot night tolerable, but this slow but steady drop in temperature was unadulterated bliss. I stretched luxuriously, my hands sliding over the cooling sheets. My brain lazily noted the sheet felt strange somehow, as my nose registered something else. My monster explosion of a sneeze abruptly brought us both fully awake.
The welcome relief had arrived complete with a full-blown dust storm. I sat up as the air rapidly transformed our bed into a gritty sandpit. Almost paralysed by a stream of stupendous sneezes, I found myself powerless to help Kanute close our bedroom doors and side window; then each window throughout the house. When he turned on our bedroom light, I wished he hadn’t. The renowned Australian red dust hung above us in a threatening cumulus formation.
“Are you still there?” I said. We could barely see each other across the room. Until the particles waffled down to thickly coat everything below, we could only sit and wait.
“Try using the wet towel to breathe through. It’s good, a kind of filter. Give it a go.” I gasped out the words quickly before I started coughing. Even the briefest outing from the towel caused me severe distress of nose, throat or eyes.
Kanute mopped his eyes first; then tried my solution, and agreed. Breathing was more tolerable with faces shrouded in wet towels. Still the heat became excruciating, trapped within the thick stone walls of the old farmhouse. Our discomfort doubled, knowing that cool (though filthy) wind was gaining strength outside.
Brainstorm number two emerged. Impossible to start a clean-up of this magnitude with parched throats and soggy, dripping bodies, without a cold liquid intake (preferably alcoholic—for Dutch courage and sustenance).
“Yes, but—what do we want? A beer?” Kanute was already halfway to the door.
“No. I think… “and suddenly there was no contest. “My new Rhubarb Champagne! That’s what we need.” I licked my lips… that would certainly be the lubricant of choice. “Yes! Icy cold and bubbly—now there’s a cheerful way to cool ourselves down and lift our spirits up; all at the same time!” In an instant my inspiration had transformed from the initial concept of a treat, into a desperate necessity for the well-being of flagging spirits and willpower.
“I know it’s a bit young yet,” I said, rolling my eyes, “but it’ll be cold and that’s what truly matters at a moment like this.”
Kanute briefly looked anxious. “Three days old? That’s cradle snatching for sure.” But like a seed, the thought had been planted, and Kanute’s eyes glinted with sudden anticipation. Throats rapidly became drier than the Sahara and won the day—and the debate. He disappeared down the passage, returning in an instant with wine glasses, and a bottle of my youthful brew. The glasses gleamed brightly on my bedside cupboard atop the centimetres of deep grit shrouding everything, as Kanute sat on the edge of the bed to prise out the cork. It was tight, and a struggle ensued—until shockingly, the cork exploded out of the bottle. Half the contents followed in a powerful fountain of bubbles! (We felt like triumphant racing car drivers, anointing the crowd. Well… almost.)
Little on my side of the room escaped my Rhubarb Champagne’s lethal aim; the glass-topped dressing table and huge mirror, the bed, the floor, the window… and of course, ourselves. Wherever the tiniest beads of the pale pink stickiness landed, the dust turned into mud spots. Everywhere we looked bore witness to an attack of red-brown killer measles.
Fortunately, we could see the humour in this impossible situation—and fell about laughing hysterically, until we were even more exhausted. Eventually, we were composed enough to study the damage. Without the help from my brew, we would have wept–if we’d had the energy or even a drop of moisture left to spare. Spirits faltered, despite the temporary courage of my bubbly—but the clean-up had to be faced before we could even dream of sleep.
I shudder, imagining our copability without the remainder of my famous (or maybe infamous?) Rhubarb Champagne on the inside of us, in lieu of wearing it. Memory suggests we required another bottle (or two?), before cleanliness and deep sleep claimed victory. This sticky learning curve dictated that subsequent bottles were opened with due respect and gentility, proving strangely successful… every time.
Although consumed by family and friends freely (in every sense of the word), no doubt a price would be paid by many the next day… but not of the monetary kind. This specific payment would inevitably follow near comatose sleep that insomniacs can only dream about.
Experimentation is extremely interesting and most enjoyable within reasonable parameters—otherwise, be it on your own head (and it will be, I promise!) Cheers!
And next? A little (?) more about my passion for kangaroos –