Thursday, February 24, 2011

When it's a ton in the sun, working ain't much fun

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; 
to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language"

It is quite apparent that Henry James, who is attributed to the above quote and one of the leading lights in19th century literary realism, never spent any of his summers in the Pokolbin vineyards during an Australian summer. I'm sure if he had, I bet he would not be so bloody fond of summer afternoons!

Once again I was tasked to work in what is generally a fairly good working outdoor environment, plenty of exercise, excellent photographic location and just a pleasant way to spend a working day. However, the first week of February this year saw the area gripped in an oxygen sapping heatwave with a high of around 47° Celcius (116.6° Fahrenheit) and low of 42°Celcius (107.6° Fahrenheit)   and just to add to the unpleasantness it was accompanied by a hot dry wind. Although the cab of the truck is air conditioned, the temperature in the cab remained at a blistering 37° Celcius and provided very little relief from the outside heat.

Everywhere you looked the landscape was listless, like it was conserving energy until a cooler change moved into the area to provide some relief, however that relief never came and by the end of the week the area surrounding vineyards was in heat distress, no rain came. Given the conditions, what I was trying to capture with the Sanyo S1275, were the fumes that are released by the native eucalypt trees and give the Australian bush that unique blue/purple haze. It is ironic that this beauty also provides the bush a highly flammable fuel during extreme bushfire conditions as the super heated fumes explode in the crown of the trees and is one of the reasons Australian bushfires are so destructive.

The hot, dry weather did provide the vignerons the opportunity to continue the fruit picking without being knee deep in glutinous red clay and remove the last of the grapes for harvest, hoping that it will make the 2011 Hunter vintage one of the best on record. 

While the weather was generally regarded as a boost for the harvest, the sweltering unrelenting heat must have effected tourist numbers, as visitors stayed closer to the coast to take advantage of the cooler weather and the perfect swimming conditions. And who could blame them! No such options for us tasked to work in those searing conditions, the fruit pickers still were out in the vines (albeit finished by midday), roadwork gangs were still out repairing roads, delivery drivers were still out on their rounds and of course there was Australia Post, picking up the wine, making sure it arrived secure and delivered on time, both for domestic and international consumption.

"It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the drivers and vehicles that stand along the road, each vehicle and driver at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat (even if its 47°) nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed."  apologies to Herodotus, Herodotus, trans. A.D. Godley, vol. 4, book 8, verse 98, pp. 96–97 (1924).

So when the temperature hits a ton, working in the sun ain't much fun ... believe me!              

1 comment:

Geniaus said...

I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. Love your blog.