Looking through the window on a hot evening in December

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When I was a child, colours in glass meant Christmas, but I don’t know why. I know we lived next to a church with stained glass windows that would have shouted their outrage all through the summer. Colours of boiled lollies. We sat on the smooth wooden pews in church every Sunday morning, already hot, already ready to leave, across the road the sea went on and on and didn’t even care about Christmas. Our bikes leaned against the gate close by because we only lived next door. Once my brother threw a brick into the outside church toilet and busted the porcelain bowl and we sprinted without stopping all the way home which was only ten metres. Because the minister’s kids shouldn’t do stuff like that.
Christmas time was rich and heavy and brilliant with the sea across the road, Santa in a front end loader and it was a real Santa not some bullshit farmer dressed up and riding in their own front end loader. This was a real one and his reindeer were in the old stone barn at the back of the bank. The kids whose dad ran that bank said this was true and I remember that girl, Susan, in my class, had a dragster bike with pink things on the wheels so it was real what she said. Christmas was stained glass and the nativity, a brilliant tranquil story fired though with candles and sheep, lit up at the back with a stained glass window of another entirely different story, set on fire with the summer, threaded through with the last days of school where we made lanterns with green, blue, red, orange, yellow cellophane, the classrooms blazing with tinsel, the final concert where we sang too loud and the infants teacher was tired and said keep calm and that family that lived in the sandhills in a shack that had no electricity and sand going in the front door. And then we ran home fast as anything because if you were outside when the sleigh went over you only got a bag of sand. The green and blue bottles at the window reminded me of all of that.

Yesterday was hot.

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Yesterday was hot. Any visitors there were, fell through the shop door and said: it’s so hot. And the summer came in through the door after them. One man held the door open while he told me about the first fleet. He allowed in the hot air, some blowing sand and all the gum leaves that gather next to the bakery along with his first fleet.

But in the evening after I got home, it became dark and cool. We were at the edge of the heat, the very rim of it and then suddenly the evening tipped into rain that fell for hours. And so the house was hot, the brick pathways were hot, the veranda posts were hot but the rain was cold.

My grandson held up his nose into the superb air, he rearranged his face and blinking eyes to take in the cold rain, he knew he was hot, everything was hot, but now he might be cold. He needed to rearrange his senses, too. He hung on tight to family when outside, consuming the new details of a rainstorm in summer, unsure of the singing downpour, unsure of safety. Also, the birds were screaming their own deafening joy into the still hot and blue evening.

Artwork by Hajin Bae