y home is a yacht and living in tropical Townsville is just about the best it can get. We sailed into paradise and put our anchor down.
Things they didn’t tell me about paradise.
Everything is big. The Big Mango, the Big Banana, the big mosquito bites on my legs every time I go out at night in summer. I wondered if my kids were called itch and scratch. Newcomers to Townsville can be spotted easily as pink calamine lotion doesn’t match anything in your wardrobe.
The weather is wonderful, most of the time. It’s only the other times that you feel like you will melt. With the humidity sapping your strength and sweat pouring off your face and other body parts that you didn’t think capable of sweating – come on, who knew their eyelids had sweat pores? – you long for a spell in the supermarket freezer. But in winter it’s perfect and a cold snap of 18 degrees Celsius (or 64º F) hits the front page of the Townsville Bulletin, known to all and sundry as The Bully. I gave my son a cardigan and at five years old he didn’t have a clue how to put it on. He thought the arms were for his legs.
The sea and reef are a treasure. We have ultra-clean beaches and win awards. Not because the locals are civic minded but because only a fool would swim with crocodiles and irikangi jellyfish. You look but don’t touch. The reef is great fun except when a whale thinks your boat is a good place for a back scratch. I don’t think they read the environmental fine print about the 200 metre exclusion zone.
Wildlife is up close and personal. This is especially true as the house geckos click-clack on the walls leaving their cute, but hard to get off droppings, and lazy snakes invade your washing basket. Rain birds are a treat especially their plaintive mating calls at three am that sound like a knife attack on the local nightclub strip. The magpies are friendly too, swooping on you to peck a hole in your head to greet you. But let’s not forget those sea birds that land on our rigging. At first they are fascinating, but after they leave great dollops on the deck that smell like year old sardines it’s hard to apply any adjective other than @#$# birds.
The air is so clean up here at latitude nineteen. They burn half the countryside once every year, though, in an effort to stop fires, and ash lands on everything for about a month. Go figure? The mango winds, or trade winds, are a boon for sailing even though the locals say they make you crazy. Perhaps everyone is a little crazy up here. And that lovely country aroma that wafts over when they are loading cattle at the port is just pure nature.
Tropical fruit is delicious. Mango trees are in just about every back yard and the fruit is a real treat. The sap can burn your skin when you pick them, though. That is if there are any to pick, as the bats have first choice. They fly silently over in squadrons from the mangroves and then spend the evening taking a bite out of every fruit on the tree. The possums will get your lychees and a cyclone, such as this February’s Yasi, will devastate the bananas for a whole
season so we have to buy them from down south at three times the price.
Living in paradise is great and I’m sure I’ll really enjoy it once I get over my skin cancer, my heat rash, and my mozzie bites. Oh, and when I retrieve my knickers from the neighbour’s rigging that the trade winds blew off my washing line.
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As a writer Hettie Ashwin does her best. She writes for magazines, radio and fun. Hettie has a healthy ego, and a fertile imagination which combines with a robust work ethic to make her a well rounded individual. As the proud possessor of an enlarged funny bone, it has a marked influence on her writing style and her life in general. Hettie blogs here.
Her publications at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.