Coldest winter in 28 years, they are saying. Two degrees already, huddled away in my office with the aircon on and small heater warming my frozen toes.
I grew up with the song of the wind and the soft, tickly grittiness of sea-sand stuck between my toes and the crash of the waves and a thousand stars at night. The moon, the same moon thats here, hid only behind clouds, not coal-dusk so thick you and the moon both can’t breathe, and the neon fluorescence so strong at night the stars run away.
here, now, even the tiny garden before my window, – the small patch of green that offered visual solace and comfort to my bare feet when i’d take my shoes off when no-one was looking and let my feet be reminded they were still on planet Earth – is lost behind thick grey curtains, in a grey foggy town where winter polices not only the skies but the people’s clothes, all grey, black and brown.
From Suzhou to Nanjing the land sprouts no flowers, only rectangular blocks of steel and cement and the space in between bitumenized. and so I ask you, 中国你那儿里去？zhong guo ni na-er li qu? Where have all the ricefields gone? Where’s Li Bai when you need him?
When I was a kid, around this time of year would always be my Dad’s work’s Christmas party. We’d gather at the beach somewhere, there’d be a barbeque, us kids would play and run wild, eat heaps and play more, then Santa would come with presents.
One Christmas, it was my Dad’s turn to play Santa. I must’ve been about ten, because I knew that Santa was a dream your parents had, that they worked hard all year to make this day, this time of year, special for us kids. I was kind of proud, and excited, that it was going to be my Dad dressed as Santa.
So there we were, eating sausages and white bread with heaps of onions and coleslaw that Dad had made and fried rice Mum had made and a heap of other stuff all the other Mums and Dads had made, and I’m asking Mum, when’s Santa coming? Dad had disappeared and I was looking around everywhere for him, looking up the road, expecting him to drive in on an old ute like all the previous years, standing on the back with a sack of presents strewn around the wide back space of the ‘utility truck’ – ute for short, if you’re an aussie – yelling out ho-ho-ho and us kids would always try and guess whose Dad he was….
and then the shout comes up “Santa! Santa!” and I look around, where, theres no truck coming, no battered up ute from any direction
“Santa!” “Look, Santa’s on a boat!!!!!”
and us kids start running down to the beach, watching the boat jet in…
and I’m thinking, its my Dad on that boat, it’s my Dad dressed up as Santa, and he steps outa the boat, rolls up those red red warm warm Santa trousers as he wades through the shallows, and its Dad’s hairy legs that show underneath the Santa suit, and it’s as hot as Hades so he rolls up his sleeves too, its an Aussie Xmas, at the beach, with Santa in a teeshirt and thongs, and Dad starts giving out the presents, ho-ho-ho, and I couldnt care less if I get a present or not because its Xmas and its the beach and its my Dad who is Santa.
Our names, me and my sisters and brother’s , get called out last, and that’s how everyone knows whose Dad it is dressed up as Santa Claus each year.
Personally, I think white christmas’s are overrated. All that cold and dangerous snow. Sure, it makes kinda sense, its freezing and theres this fat man trying to keep warm with a million layers of red, growing a beard to keep the winter chill from his chin, and little mince pies warm up your cockles and a hot roast dinner makes sense in winter… but really… its SOOOO cold… so for me…
This time of year is just not the same without Santa on a boat.
All photos taken from my OPPO 🙂