We have big bedrooms at our farm. It’s an old school farmhouse which we have extended over the years. It now has a big veranda right the way around so you can catch the sunrise at breakfast, and have an afternoon drink as the sun goes down. Well that was the idea when we built the veranda, but the reality is you get in after dark at this time of year, and the summer daylight just lets you work longer and so you still come in, in the dark.
I remember as a kid sleeping in my big bedroom in the winter, the bed heavy with doonas and blankets. Me all ‘snug as a bug in a rug’ with the window open and the cold, cold breeze coming through the sash window. The old house, with a tin roof, creaking in the wind. The waking in the middle of the night needing to wee, but the ‘fog’ coming from each breath telling me it was far too cold to get out of bed, and only when the feeling became too great did I venture out and follow the night lights to the bathroom. And then the disappointment when returning to bed and discovering that in my haste I hadn’t covered the bed back up and my warm cocoon had dissipated to sub- zero levels.
Tonight is some 25 years on. I’ve got the window open and the breeze is floating over my face but I’m cheating this time… the electric blanket is on. The only thing that makes the experience better is the sound of the rain falling on the tin roof. It’s only light but the steady pitter patter is a sound that is close to every farmer’s heart. It’s been raining on and off for some weeks now; it’s like the Big Man upstairs has flicked the switch and made it our turn, and it just keeps coming, filling the soil and then the dams and the creeks… feeding the earth. There is a waterfall on the Horton River, not far ‘as the crow flies’ from our farm, and you can hear it running, a sound not heard (continuously) for years and years. The season has changed in our favour, as has the faces of the farmers. The conversations I had at our local supermarket today have all turned positive and there is a spring in the step of the town.
I must withdraw my arms back under the doona now; the cold has rendered my fingers useless. And the condensation of my breath on the iPad is making typing more difficult than it needs to be. The only problem is I’m starting to have that feeling… I wonder… Are the night lights still on?