Sydney weather has been ricocheting around. May was totally glorious, I was in basking seal mode only a couple of weeks ago, swimming in the ocean off Lion Island in Pittwater, one of Sydney’s great natural harbours. The water was a bit bracing but nothing compared to my childhood summer swims off St Andrews where I used to enter the water, draw a sharp breath and exit swiftly climbing back into three layers of clothing and hoping the blue tinge to my flesh faded quickly. In contrast two weeks ago, we sat around the boat in the sunshine with that glorious feeling of salt drying on your skin and marvelled at one of the warmest Mays in record for Sydney with daytime temperatures over 20 oC every day for the first 26 days of the month.
But as in all good fairy stories there is always something nasty lurking in the woodshed. In this case, an East Coast Low, apparently partly caused by the high sea temperatures that were responsible for my unseasonal sea like frolicking. Having got a grand total of 7.2mm of rain in the whole of May, Sydney has received 226.2mm since Friday – most of which appears to have pooled under our house. Husband has been looking manly in shorts, up to his knees in water creating siphon systems with hoses to get the water out – I refused to do the sucking bit to start the siphons off, having had nasty experiences with that particular exercise, in the past, with emptying out fish tank water.
We went for breakfast on Sunday at our local beachside café, Bathers' Pavilion at Balmoral. As Balmoral is a harbour beach, rather than an ocean one, you normally get the kind of waves that you encourage your four year old to jump through, but as we sat at our window table, carefully avoiding the pools of water from the rain that was driving in through the frames, we could see surfers out on the water, surfing very respectable sized waves into the beach.
The storm coincided with the highest tide of the year, last night, a so called King Tide – have actually mentally labelled it the King Canute tide as he would have had more than a few problems trying to hold it back. We went back down to Balmoral for a walk last night as the tide was at its peak, fortunately the storm had abated but the size of the waves as they crashed onto the usually placid beach and over the esplanade walls was impressive. We spotted a pelican amongst the chaos of the surf, presumably looking for fish attracted by the Bathers' Pavilion lights that shine out at night over the water. As we marvelled at his skill in dodging waves, he suddenly got it wrong and had to fly for his life down the face of a giant wave coming zooming out of the froth and water, skimming millimetres away from the wall of water. It was one of those images that will stay with me for a long time as he flew in low towards us, before flapping off into the night in a somewhat disgruntled fashion.
It’s not just the weather that seems barmy in Sydney. My front garden looks bizarre at the moment, though I would hate to give you the impression it ever looks particularly flash. I have daffodils out, actually technically I think they are some kind of narcissi or jonquil but daffodils covers it, whilst at the same time the imported trees are turning gold and orange. Given both flowers and trees come from northern hemispheres – surely one or other species has got it wrong re Spring and Autumn as a concept in their adopted home – and I’m guessing it’s the daffodils who are confused.