HOWW TO READ: To enjoy the entire piece, please read all three perspectives.
I watch dusk descending
before a mountainous silhouette
casting shadow upon shadows-
a reprieve from summer sweat.
A city flickers on.
In tune – a deft chorus.
Homes light up. Car lights on.
Street lights up. Guide lights on.
the rust-stained sky,
glimmer into the evening
under a sea full of stars.
Or more like cane fields alit
Emanating too much heat.
Twinkling ambers into the dark-
nest-ling the now auburn sky.
But this is the wrong time of the year
in the city in the far north.
Am feeling soo hot
Like I need water.
Like aquarius in January.
Unable to bear
85 per cent
Another southbound traveller’s passing nod.
As if warned:
“Avoid the summers in the north”.
These are memories of a city in the Far North.
And I am fanning
temp’l and brow.
Awaiting an evening concert.
No sudden moves.
a broken metronome
to a cacophonous evening choir in legato.
Flying fox screaches
to-ambient mosquito hums
interject cicada cries
to cane toad drums.
A slither in the grass
sounds a curlew panic.
A flutter in the branches
Takes off into the darkness.
The soundtrack of
summer nights flickering
from my verandah.
And it is still hot.
This is the city in the Far North.
Waiting for the winds to change,
for long summers to end.
For days below 25 degrees.
For palms to bristle
in the breeze.
To cool the space
between temp’l and brow.
To give me reason to rise
from the sway of my hammock.
For right now,
It is early evening
It is the mid of summer
It is the city in the Far North.
-by Hans Lee
In a recent piece, I spelled out that I had grown accustomed to owning a vehicle in Cairns. Not a lot has changed. I still need a car, maybe more so now since I sold my car and live a fair way out of the CBD.
It was with a tad bit of bitterness then when I chanced upon a piece in the The Conversation written by Professor Barbara T. H. Yen reporting on her research with a team of scholars from Griffith University.
I sold my car several weeks before I headed to PNG for a gig, substituting my own apathy toward public transport for the kindness of friends, only to realise how much I needed my own legs.
Part 2/2 – How I made the patchwork princess too?
The patchwork princess from primary school days grew up without anyone telling her the right words to use. She could never really stop the boys from embarrassing her.
The primary school boys never learnt that ‘no’ meant ‘no’. That boy does not deserve girls affection after grand gesture. That there was a fine line between romance and harassment.
Primary school gossip was scandalous to say the least. Paper notes passed up and down grades, between friends – cautious of peering eyes. These were days before the DMs – I am talking about days before mobile phones and snapchat.
I’m breaking a sweat from J-walking across Grafton Street.
For the first time in a few mild months, I am reminded that this is the tropics.
The feel of humidity rising in the morning leaves a lot to be desired as I get caught in the mid-Friday-morning sun darting into Rusty’s for the ritual coffee and samosa.
Friendly nods between the frenzied buzz give way to warm murmurs interjected by the whizz-shhhhh of the coffee machine at Billy’s.
Flippy-floppy thongs slap hard against concrete followed closely by the clip and clop of a heal and a shoe.
Someone mentions in passing that it looks like ‘it’s going to be a hot one’.
But I can’t tell if they were talking about the coffee or sun.
I notice the first signs of redness beginning to show on our melanin-deficient brothers and sisters who have ventured a bit too long without sunscreen.
The morning streets will soon be a buzz with tropical professionals zipping into air-conditioned hideaways of the next cafe to avoid unsightly sweat patches.
But the weather this time of the year is temperamental.
The rains do poke through humid blue skies on the odd occasion, cooling streets and shrinking sidewalks.
It lingers long enough to make us yearn for more sheltered walkways. But it stays away long enough for us to forget we need them.
The indecisive weather is part of the lifestyle. A short walk from the Esplanade to Cairns Central would attract an unwarranted public baptism by either precipitation or perspiration.
I call on a thought to distract myself from the rising hunger as I wait in the samosa line.
How is it that our city stops short of catering to our tropical lifestyle?
Why does my daily commute to work have to involve navigating patches of sweat from rising humidity?
We praise the outdoor tropical lifestyle, yet accept, and think it normal to spend the better part of the week inside air-conditioned cubicles glaring through double-glazed tinted panes.
This is the disjuncture of our existence that evades the public forum, but one that concerns us all.
This may be about to change.
I bite into my tamarind sauce topped samosa to settle the hangry morning monster in my belly.
Taking advantage of JCU’s agenda on pursuing research with a tropical focus, the JCU TUD Lab will pursue important questions concerning the livability of tropical urban environments. A feat warranted by a State of the Tropics report that claims close to 50% of the worlds people will live in the tropics by the middle of this century.
After having the Cairns Regional Council’s Tropical Urbanism vision applauded at the state level, this TUD Lab would mark an important milestone for thinking about tropical planning and urban design in Cairns, if not the world.
The Lab is set for launch at JCU on the 20th October with registrations essential for catering.
Maybe there will be some respite from the heat soon.
- RamblingsOfAGlobalCitizen (blog)