Monday, February 17, 2014
One of the pre-move worries that nagged at me last fall was wondering if I would be able to cope with the heat of tropical Queensland. Most people I shared this with likely thought I was mad to worry about that above all else, but for me it was a biggie. I don't fare well in any extreme temperature, hot or cold. I had grown to hate winter in Canada for that reason alone. So it came as no surprise to me that it would concern me to be facing the other end of the weather spectrum down under.
In Canada it is a matter of course to expect air conditioning in the summer months just about everywhere you go. Whether it be a shopping centre or a restaurant or the house next door. I imagined that if Canadians felt a need for a/c in summer, surely a semi-tropical Australian state would consider a/c mandatory. A necessity. Not a luxury. Turns out I am wrong. (yes, yes, I am from time to time - Ha!) What has come as a real shocker to me is that not only is it considered a luxury, it seemingly is considered wasteful or something that most folks only resort to when things get completely unbearable. In fact, I would go so far as to say it has been my observation that the longer you can hold off turning on these evil devices, the brighter and shinier your badge of honour becomes.
These Queenslanders are some kind of tough. Initially I caved to switching on at the least hint of temperatures above 27 or the slightest inkling of humidity, but as time has passed, I find myself becoming more acclimatized to the heat and after the heat wave that gripped us the first two weeks of January with temperatures soaring into the 40's, now I find anything between 27-32 quite pleasant and as long as the ceiling fans are rotating and the windows are open, I can tolerate going without...with the exception of the car a/c of course.
That is a necessity for me and although there are some who would poo poo me here, that is the one place I am holding firm to my creature comforts. Along with a tolerance for the heat, I have found the population in general far more tolerant to other discomforts as well. Perhaps I am more of a princess than I thought, but I cannot walk barefoot on the grass here (too crunchy, ouch, ouch), and I am not ever going to pick up a gecko, although I have become more used to seeing them everywhere, and I am NEVER going to hold a snake in my bare hands.
At first I wondered if it was just the people I knew or was meeting or if it was just about the cost of the electricity. I have come to the conclusion that it can be any number of these reasons, but I have seen as many well off home-owners as more budget-minded types resist the urge to "spoil" themselves with such luxury. It seems to be more of a mind-set. Who can tough it out? As though they have a reputation to uphold. The evidence is everywhere. Department stores, hardware stores, big box stores all carry stacks and stacks of fans. Desk fans, table fans, pedestal fans, ceiling fans. Cheap fans. Expensive fans. Remote control fans. Fans at every price point. A fan for every nook and cranny. Mountains of them. Best to just blow all this hot air around rather than cool it down and feel too comfortable. A/C is for wusses. Pussies. Canadian princesses.
No self-respecting, XXXX drinking, croc whisperer, roo-bar wielding old mate in these parts needs the manufactured cooling air produced by such a modern day contraption whether they can afford it or not. There was an internet joke being circulated a while back about the Scot and the Irishman and the Aussie sitting around the campfire telling tales of how tough they were. I forget the specifics of the stories the Scot and the Irishman told, but when it was time for the Aussie to share a story of bravado, he did not say a word, he just stood up, walked over to the fire, unzipped his pants and proceeded to stir the fire with his penis.
I laughed so hard when I heard that joke. But like most jokes, there is always a smidgen of truth behind the tale. No question, they can take the heat and so can many of the women. My next door neighbour, a fairly weathered widow of about 75 is a case in point. She is a very nice woman, exactly the kind of neighbour you like - quiet, responsible, neat. I mentioned how happy I was that the house we are renting has A/C and she glanced over her shoulder away from the fence where we stood having a gab and motioned her head toward her own luxury possession protruding from the side of her house, a look of disdain on her face and said, "yeah, me too, but I never use it."
Now I imagine every time I turn mine on, she is shaking her head and snickering about that coddled Canuck next door that can't take the heat.
And she'd be right. :)