The second of four days over 41 degrees Celsius. I was heading out to check on the chickens, and to refill their water, add ice-blocks and if necessary, give them a squirt with the hose. Apparently chickens don’t drink water outside a certain temperature range, so on a hot day, once their water gets too warm, they’ll simply stand, wings out, beaks hanging open, but unable to drink.
As I walked out through the laundry, I heard a slithering sound behind the washing machine. I look behind to find a blue-tongue lizard, medium-sized, one of two or perhaps even three that live in our yard. I don’t know whether even cold-blooded creatures need to seek solace from the heat, but I knew that if the cat discovered it, it might come off second best. I’d seen the Big blue-tongue that lives behind the shed up by the house a couple of days before, its back looked injured, like perhaps a cat or a dog had had a curious chew, and taken with it a mouth-sized patch of scales.
I grabbed a box, and placed it on its side, its top open to the space between the wall and the washing machine. With some gentle encouragement, the lizard soon wandered into the box, and I turned it upwards again, closed it, and released it into the grass. It shot off into the undergrowth, long-bodied and with a hiss.
With lizards in the laundry, and ever climbing temperatures, I’m beginning to be reminded more and more of desert cities like Tucson, where the wide streets are left empty for the sun, and the denizens dart from shadow to shadow, reclining on front porches or retreating into trailers. Daylight is left to the rattlesnakes, and the nights to the border patrol, and toads drawn to dishwashing water.
I wonder at what point people will begin to flee Adelaide’s escalating summers en masse. And at what point will we embrace our desert rat identity, transforming into a people that feast on cactus and mulberries and jujubes and pistachios and carobs, that take siestas and install hammocks in public places.
After another day indoors in darkened rooms, we flee to the coast. We stop at an ATM, the buttons burn my fingertips from a day’s sunshine.