These past few weeks from mid-May, which makes it a full month, seem to have been the most sustained stretch of poor weather I can remember. Incessant rain, low temperatures, and even a spring-like wind during the week that drove rain before it like bullets; and no sunshine beyond a few minutes' worth here and there - which had the effect of merely teasing you before disappearing again behind the dreary, cold, grey cloud-mass that is a constant canopy.
Or was it an illusion? Schooldays had plenty of cold and wet weather. I remember the gurgling drainpipes and drumming rain drowning out a teacher's voice; wind-fanned rivulets of rain flooding the schoolyard; and running my fingers along the icy tops of front fences and walls, arriving at school almost frostbitten. We didn't worry then. We didn't have to think about roof leaks and flooded gardens and getting clothes dry.
But no: it wasn't an illusion. I heard on the radio that this has been the coldest start to a Melbourne winter since 1949.
I was anticipating a blustery, rainy, cold run at Cruden Farm on Saturday but for three glorious hours, the sun made an appearance. The race started between the house - a kind of antebellum-style folly flanked by a walled garden, a brick and stone stable building and a rose garden - and the pond. The little blue flags stuck into the ground at intervals led the runners down a gentle slope past grazing cattle, up a hill, and down the other side. Then they meandered past farm buildings and stabling, garden sheds and stands of trees and up and down hills. Four kilometres later you were back at the mansion and that was the first lap of three. These days it's just a gentle jog so I get to see more of the scenery. Tom ran in the under 18 race and afterwards, marquees dotted the lawn near the greenhouse and food was spread out on card tables and tea poured from flasks and the whole affair resembled afternoon tea on an English village race day. We drove home, north and west, into the lowering sun, a pale gold orb, like an old friend you haven't seen for some time.