The presses are rolling again dear reader, the web-site is up and running, or whatever it is they actually do. And we’re back, it’s back, The Maitland Mercury, and another year is underway . . .
Since 1843 the town that grew beside the Hunter River has owned her own paper, her own way of speaking to each other about here, about the nation, and the world beyond.
And it’s good to be back, and that’s right …
The word on the street is that it’s been a bit warm around the old town.
The holiday Mercury [Hg] - the other one - has been on the rise like a February river, and the sky pundits are forecasting 41C for today and same for Friday!
And I’ve said it before, but the Januaryness of around here is a thing to behold. The floodplain ingests a kind of summer anaesthesia, and the streets and fields fall soporific, and every veranda and lounge room grows as languid a river-bank willow with the all pervasive heat.
Panting dogs find the coolness of the bathroom tiles and lie, side down and dreaming; only the smell of a oven baked party-pie can shake them from their summer malaise, much like their comatose cricket-watching masters.
In Maitland kitchens, barefoot fathers carefully, tremulously, make the journey from sink to freezer to replenish the vital supply of ice-cubes: the tray pincer gripped between thumbs and forefingers, their voices calling for someone, anyone, to open the bloody freezer door!
And finally, Maitland ice-cubes, by the fistful, tumble into evening drinks – their gradual dissolution accompanies the waning of our deep summer days. We stare into them, and they listen, as we talk the January sun down the sky.
And so it goes …
There’s less emphasis on fashion in these early hard days of January.
That usual, distinctive Maitland flair for fashionista style gives way to a more pragmatic manner of attire: and its shorts, sandals or thongs, and probably a T-shirt or singlet top, and at home it’s next to nothing, because it’s just too hot to care about all that palaver.
And at night, late and dark and January warm, it’s a wide window and a whirring fan, it’s laying back and thinking forward, to the new year, to a new start, new job, new plan and all that.
And so it goes …
We start work again in January, in the belly of all this mad heat, we roll up the sleeves and wipe the brow and get down to it.
We climb out of the car at Pender Place and feel the heat hit us like a Merv Wright tackle, and we wince and say “ooh geez” - and we know its summer in the old river town again.
And so it goes. Goodnight.