In the middle of a second week of heatwave you can divide the world in two. Those who live in air conditioning and those who don't. For those in houses that hold the heat, sleep is scratchy and hard to keep hold of. Tempers are fraying. Clothing becomes more "casual", meals scrappy - conversation is close to argument or all about the weather. The unairconditioned go about looking a little shellshocked, a little rumpled and testy.
If your house is a good machine it can be adjusted for Summer. Deep verandahs, canvas blinds, louvered windows and ceiling fans help. Here the attic holds the heat and a verandah keeps the sun off the window glass. The house is over 100 years old. It has seen hot spells before. Called Ootycumund after a North Indian hill station it was built by decommissioned missionaries who knew a thing about heat.
We have sherbets and cordials, iced tea, iced coffee and icy poles to hand. The dogs are indoors. We are seeing more than our quota of new releases at the cinema. All meals are either salads or ice cream. Exercise that does not involve water is a vague and somewhat ridiculous memory. Board games are in full swing. The bike is collecting cobwebs. The weather report can either dash or make your day.
The preserving pan has been temporarily retired in favour of making pop. On the go we have a kombucha - family is sceptical about this one, an orange lemon sherbet and an orange blossom lemonade.
from Claudia Roden's wonderful
New Book of Middle Eastern Food
6 cups iced water
juice of 4 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
tablespoon orange blossom water
1/2 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients and leave covered in refrigerator until the sugar is dissolved.
Sidenote: the house pictured is my friend Rebecca's in Brisbane. Sheltered by giant mango trees, louvered and tiled it's a house built for long Summers.