Voice of Real Australia: Summer arrives and it's packing some heat

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Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Summer has definitely arrived and with it - heat.

It's to be expected, after all. We live in a largely desert country, with the bulk of the population squeezed into an arable rim.

The green of spring gives way to brown so quickly, like a light switch being flicked. The wide brown land for me, indeed.

My father is an experienced horticulturist, who noticed significant growth in his garden this year. In fact it was the best in decades.

His more than half a century professionally tending plants leads him to believe that summer arrives earlier these days, with the plants exhibiting signs now that he'd normally see in a month or so.

In the past week he's noticed how much moisture is being sucked up by his beloved seedlings. Planted pots need watering every few hours or they wilt. It's almost not worth using them at the moment, he said.

We were surprised last year when a loganberry bush planted along a tin fence was fried, after a long time happily bearing fruit in the spot. Some bulbs nearby faced the same fate.

It's certainly now a thirsty, tough time - for plants, people and animals.

So, today, when parts of the country are set to swelter (Cobar was bracing for 48C) and much of Victoria is warily watching the landscape during a total fire ban, take care.

Slip, slop slap, keep a cool drink to hand, stay out of the sun. Check in with the vulnerable (and those struggling with bills who might not turn on cool air) to make sure they are OK. Make sure your pets are comfortable. Put out some water for our native wildlife.

As the heatwave continues think about changing habits. The cool of the morning could become your friend. As could evenings.

On my early-morning ride today I saw many who had risen early to exercise or do their heavy labour. Tradies were already on the tools, road construction teams were setting out their signs and power company workers were cutting back grass.

An evening stroll last night was a delight - still warm enough for shorts but the burning heat of the day was gone and there was a cool breeze. People were out jogging and picnicking at a nearby reservoir.

For the hottest parts of the day I'll be hiding inside, under the air-conditioning, like so many others.

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