Changing winds of Melbourne

What follows is a short story from Rosemary’s past. After talking with her, I have taken our discussion and turned it into a series of small stories highlighting the incredible life that she has led. Direct quotes from our discussion are highlighted in quotation marks. All else is a retelling written by yours truly.

Emigrating to Australia with three children and a pregnant belly is no easy task, especially when Rosemary and Bill had not yet found a home that they could move into.

On arrival into Melbourne the family of five and a half were put into a small hostel full of immigrants off the boat. Here they lived for two weeks, sleeping there at night, and spending the days with the family of Bill’s old school friend who happened to be living in Melbourne. The hostel had no laundry facilities and with three children it was vitally important that Rosemary find a way to stay on top of the constantly growing pile of dirty clothes.

So while Bill went off in search of a house (and began the process of entering his new job) Rosemary joined with the wife of Bill’s friend – who herself had four boys – and together they managed the seven children while their husbands were away. When Bill returned from work he and Rosemary and their three children would head back to the hostel.

It was a lifesaver for Rosemary, to have someone who she could talk to, to have somewhere she could go to get out of that little hostel. Two weeks felt like two years but eventually they found a house and began to settle into life in Melbourne.

Life was relatively normal. They had the house and garden, the school a short walk from the house. Bill had the job. Rosemary ran the house. It wasn’t that Melbourne was bad, in fact Rosemary remembers it with fondness. The people she met, the church they soon came to view as theirs, it was all very friendly.

Perhaps it was because Melbourne was so short. As with all the changes that Rosemary and Bill went through, things changed suddenly (more on that next week). Melbourne was supposed to be a much longer stay but in the end they were only there for a year, arriving in Australia’s winter – June – and leaving around Easter.

What Rosemary really remembers was the weather. It was so changeable, so unpredictable. Everybody thinks of Australia as this hot country with lovely sun and surf. But they forget that not far south of the island sits the south pole and if the winds are flowing northward, they bring with them the chill of Antarctica.

One memory in particular stands out for Rosemary. One Sunday, the family was invited out for lunch after church. They were sitting there in a little alcove in this lovely house. One window faced north, the other faced south. Not the best.

It was a hot, summer’s day. A harsh wind blew down from the north, bringing with it the heat of northern Australia. Rosemary’s youngest was crying, unable to bear the soaring temperatures. It was, all in all, unpleasant.

They started eating, trying to stave off the sweat that seemed to occur with minimal effort. Then the winds changed. It wasn’t immediate. The air pressure must have changed and the winds that were blowing southward began to change. By the end of the meal the wind had completely reversed course and was now blowing in cold air from the opposite window. In turn the temperature dropped twenty degrees (Fahrenheit, not Celsius).

At least the baby stopped crying.

The trouble with Melbourne was that it was impossible to know how to dress. Which wind do you prepare for? Is it worse to be cold in shorts and a t-shirt or hot in a jacket and jeans?

Anyway, it was a strange nine months for Rosemary, but one that she did enjoy overall. Bill, on the other hand, did not. He really didn’t like his job at the time. Everything about it from the ethos to the management style he struggled with. But it didn’t last long, for soon they were onto the next leg of their journey. One that had its own twist that Rosemary had to come to terms with.

Stay tuned for more stories from the life of Rosemary. Please note: these stories will not necessarily hold any chronological grounding. They are designed as snippets of understanding into the life of Rosemary and while some will hold chronology, others may not.

Photo Credit: The photo in the logo was provided by Matt Hardy on Unsplash. It is an image of the waters off of Bondi Beach, which I suppose is appropriate given Bill and Rosemary’s destination. Anyway, if you would like to see more of their work, click here.