When I think of Sydney I think of sunshine and blue skies, palm trees and parakeets, and the harbour dazzling with outlandish beauty. All the usual clichés.
But what’s easy to forget is the rain: full days of relentless, never-ending downpour. You wake up in the night and hear it drumming on the roof and it’s still going full pelt the following afternoon.
It’s rain-soaked days, like this one, when I finally understand why some of the storm drains I’ve passed are large enough to swallow a small child, and why the old stone kerbs of Balmain exist at their current ankle-breaking height. On a day like this, torrents of rainwater gush down the street, tributaries and rivers merge and stream down towards the harbour, no longer sparkling like the diamond of yesterday, but now dark and grey, like the clouds overhead.
I know people who moan but I love days like this: the sound of rain drumming on the roof; the cool, damp air reminding me of my English childhood; and memories too of the day after our Sydney wedding, when our little house was crammed full of friends and family, and my brand new, hungover husband stood outside on the patio, valiantly barbecuing a mountain of sausages under a rain-splattered umbrella. Good times.
Frankly, there’s nothing to be done on a day like this but to bunker down – with a baby sleeping soundly upstairs, a boy laying train track in the front room, a warm cat stretched like a hot water bottle across my lap, Angus & Julia Stone playing on the stereo, and me, nose deep in a book.
Today it’s The Passage by Justin Cronin. It’s consumed me all weekend, like the hungry virals springing from its pages; an epic adventure reminding me of the Stephen King and Jean Auel novels I happily gobbled-up as a teenager.
No, a housebound day with rain bucketing from the sky is nothing to complain about. It’s like receiving a pass note from your mum: permission to sit this one out and just kick back, listening to the timpani on the old tin roof while you devour a good book, for a little while at least. And surely, we all agree that this is one of life’s simplest pleasures?