It isn't officially summer yet, but we've just had a week and a bit more of high temperatures. There was one cool change last weekend (a South Ocean phenomenon, it appears), which dropped the temperatures below the 30s and made things more pleasant. Adelaide is still in the mid 40s, but Melbourne and most of the south of Victoria is in the low to mid 30s, with the northern part of the State heading toward temps of 40 or more. We were very fortunate to visit a beautiful little town on the Great Ocean Road for the weekend -- Fairhaven -- with the family who are coming to Winnipeg on exchange next year.
There are fire warnings everywhere, immediately. The new system of fire warning, implemented a few months ago, guides residents of fire-prone areas to risks that are higher than stated (but interpreted in many different ways) in the previous system. They have tried to make this new warning system as clear as possible, but people are still trying to figure out how to interpret the scale. The categories of fire danger range from risk (get ready to leave) to extreme (if you are going to leave, leave now) to catastrophic (dangerous to stay -- the state we were in during the February fires).
As a result of today's total fire ban in the Dandenongs, the planned "Wacky Walkathon" at FCPS has been cancelled. Everyone showed up in their free dress, wacky or not, which was great to see. They are going to try again tomorrow, as there is a cool change scheduled for later tonight. Strangely enough, there was a fire siren at 6:30 a.m., and when I checked the web site, it was listed as a grass fire... go figure! The wind was strong all night -- a hot, dry wind, blowing in from Australia's centre. It doesn't feel as hot right now, blowing through the open window, carrying the scent of the millions of flowering trees and plants. But it's strong and dry, which creates some of the danger.
Tom is off to fire Robert Barron's big anagama (wood-fired) kiln in Kardella. One of his favourite activities, and given that he has had a chance to place some of his work in the kiln, he's thrilled. The firing will last upwards of 3 days (and nights), so all the helpers work in shifts to feed wood into the fire box. We'll go check in some time on the weekend. I've never seen a wood kiln in action, so this should be fantastic. Hopefully the lower temperatures (20s, not 30s, following the cool change), will mean things are bearable.
The kids and I are making a short presentation on Canada/Winnipeg in their classes this afternoon, complete with more maple leaf shaped sugar cookies with bright red icing. Food was requested, so I have complied. We have a short Powerpoint presentation, and then plan to ask a few questions to test their knowledge. Is Canada American? (that's a big issue for a lot of students) What are the indigenous people of Canada's north called? (not the E word, and why) What is Canada's national sport? (there are 2) Why does your tongue stick to a metal pole (if you try it) in freezing temperatures? There are not roads heading to all the northern communities. What do they use in place? You get the idea.
Following the end of the school day, we're off to cool off in Lysterfield Lake -- a few kilometres away -- and enjoy a picnic for our evening meal.
Easy entertaining. Pickerel Cheeks - This is really such a delighfully simple dish to make. Great local ingredients that shine. Pickerel cheeks (yes, Walleye, to my non-local language puris...