Rain was falling in sheets as I turned onto the freeway heading south and east. The road rose towards Bolte Bridge where you can see the city to the left and industry and docks rolling away to the right. The car crested the bridge and then we hit a traffic jam. Half the cars in Melbourne were headed west and the rest east. It was Christmas Day, midday. Even peak hour never jams up like this.
I escaped the freeway at Docklands, idled through South Melbourne, turned left at Fitzroy and crossed St Kilda junction to Dandenong Road, veered onto Wattletree, slipped along a quiet, curving Malvern Road and picked up the freeway again at Chadstone. Easy. We were in the foothills of the Dandenongs by ten past one.
I parked the car in some slush out the front of the house, a brown tumbled-brick eighties affair with arched windows behind a tall wall with ironwork inserts. There was snow on what would have been the front lawn if drought and extreme heat hadn't killed it. We went inside to get warm.
It was cold all day. The official top temperature was 14.7 degrees, but four or five of those degrees didn't bother to venture much further east than Vermont South and we were a lot further east then Vermont South. And higher. A few nights ago we had tossed and turned through a sweltering low of 27 after a day close to forty - the hottest December night on record.
It was a nice day. There was news to share. Cousins had grown. Some had finished school, starting careers. Others were going overseas or had returned. There was too much food. Lunch became dinner.
Everyone talked about the weather.