My first Delicious descriptions post was from Barbara Hanrahan on the sun in Adelaide, so I thought we might travel to Sydney for this one. As it’s still in summer in our neck of the woods, here is Marjorie Barnard in The persimmon tree and other stories (1943), also on the sun – and its enervating effect:
In the wealthy suburbs of the North Shore and Vaucluse a change had taken place too. It was as if the earth had been squeezed so that all the fine houses that had nestled so comfortably in the contours and in the greenery, were forced up to the light. They bulged out, exposed, and the sun tore at them. The gardens that had embowered them were perished. Tinder dry, fire had been through many of them, scorching walls and blistering away any paint that remained. Most of these houses were empty or inhabited as if they were caves, by people who had come in from the stricken country. The owners had fled, not so much from present hardship, as from the nebulous threat of the future, the sense of being trapped in a doomed city. The shores of the harbour were lion-coloured or drab grey. Sandhills showed a vivid whiteness. Only the water was alive and brilliant. And it was salt. (from “Dry spell”)
I like her point that nature doesn’t discriminate (even though we know that, in reality, the well-off do often have the wherewithal to avoid its worst effects). And I love the last sentence – the short finality of it.
- I have been at the coast this week, and so scheduled my first two Delicious Descriptions for this time. I promise I won’t be bombarding you bi-weekly with these. (The dictionaries are confused! I looked up “bi-weekly” and it can mean both “twice a week”, as I mean here, of course, and “every two weeks”. How silly is that! Anyhow, perhaps “semiweekly” is the preferable term.)
- And Sarah (you Devoted Reader you), this one’s for you. May you experience no more such heat in Sydney this summer.