Go­ing bananas in the tropics

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - THE GROVE - Wil­low Wil­lis

TROPPO, mango mad­ness, cabin fever. Let’s face it, we’re all suf­fer­ing from it this time of year. The rain keeps pour­ing down and ev­ery time the sun peeks out from be­hind the dark, heavy clouds the steam rises and a sauna sit­u­a­tion starts to oc­cur like pour­ing wa­ter over hot rocks in a Swedish wooden pan­elled sauna – only the for­est is the wooden pan­els, the wa­ter pro­vided in abun­dance from above and the hots rocks are the hottest rock of them all: the sun.

Wel­come to Port Dou­glas mid wet sea­son.

Ap­par­ently, there hasn’t been a ‘‘nor­mal’’ wet sea­son in over ten years or more but then my mum has come to visit and she is The Rain Maker. I have seen it so many times, it’s un­canny. She came to visit in Syd­ney a few years ago af­ter a five year drought and just the mere men­tion of her visit opened up the skies and poured un­til she left and then it was dry again... un­til her next visit. She loves the rain and the rain loves her. Wher­ever she goes – rain fol­lows. It’s quite bizarre so I was not sur­prised her visit to PD her­alded the first ‘‘nor­mal’’ wet sea­son in many a long year.

I’m go­ing to hire her out – ‘‘You got drought? We got rain!’’ If you are a lover of the rain, some­one who finds com­fort in the rain, you are a plu­viaphile. I am a plu­viaphile. FYI the term ‘‘ troppo’’ was orig­i­nally at­trib­uted to the ef­fects of the tropics on mil­i­tary ser­vice­men in WWII.

I n these parts the hu­mid­ity and cease­less rain be­gin to wear peo­ple down; one feels like one is swim­ming through the heat. Ev­ery­thing slows to a crawl. The plants love it! Hu­mans, how­ever, can stand it for only so long be­fore the term ‘‘troppo’’ creeps into every­day vernacular.

Peo­ple be­come ir­ri­ta­ble, run down, vague, heavy breathed and seek out the frozen goods aisle in the su­per­mar­ket. I find the frozen peas sec­tion to be enor­mously ben­e­fi­cial on stink­ing hot and hu­mid days. The waves of re­lief that wash over me when I open the re­frig­er­a­tor and fan the crispy cold air onto my hot and tired skin are small mo­ments of bliss.

One must ac­cess the re­frig­er­a­tion aisle by stealth. You can­not let the man­ager at the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket know you are us­ing their pre­cious cool­ing sys­tem for any­thing other than ca­sual pe­rusal of the sev­eral brands of frozen baby peas. An un­usual in­ter­est in the small­est de­tails of the pack­ag­ing takes place on hot­ter than hot days.

Ev­ery­thing gets damp. I tried to light some in­cense and dis­cov­ered all my boxes of matches were damp – good thing I don’t need to light in­cense, be­cause I can’t. It’s im­por­tant to keep fans on even when the tem­per­a­ture sus­pi­ciously drops, air flow and air cir­cu­la­tion is fun­da­men­tal t o avoid t he dreaded mould and that dank smell of damp­ness that gets through all your clothes. Doona on, doona off, doona on, doona off. I mar­vel at the lo­cal’s abil­ity to sit through this year in and year out to keep this lit­tle town alive when the tourists van­ish for greener pas­tures. For my two bits, I think they should have lo­cal’s dis­count card in the low sea­son – when the work is scarce but the tourist prices re­main the same...

One of my plants has seem­ingly grown six inches since I last saw it which I thought was only a few days ago – but it could have been weeks ago. Who knows any­more? Ev­ery­thing is a marathon, elec­tric­ity bills soar, the pub is full most of the time and lit­tle birds over­heat, crouch­ing in the door­ways of brand name shops who can af­ford an arc­tic blast of air­con shroud­ing their en­trances temp­ing even the most skint lo­cals into their par­lours like the spi­der to the fly...

If you find your­self be­com­ing un­hinged, note to self, you must learn to feign in­ter­est in the puff pas­try, frozen yo­ghurt and frozen peas aisle of the su­per­mar­ket – but you must be cool about it. I have dis­cov­ered the hard way the un­wanted at­ten­tion when one throws open the fridge and col­lapses on buck­ets of Sara Lee and Mag­gie Beer ice-cream or wan­ders around with a packet of frozen corn and car­rots on your face – so watch out for the man­ager... They must never know what we are do­ing to pre­serve our trop­i­cal san­ity. This in­for­ma­tion is my gift to you. Over and out.

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