Australian weather broke records in recent weeks, and like some sort of cosmic ripple effect, it caused DD to break a record too: namely, how quickly after collecting your newly repaired car from the mechanics can you get it damaged again. He had just picked up his car, finally free of the dent made by a neighbour during the bushfire scare, and within half an hour a horrific hailstorm descended on Canberra and blocks of ice the size of golf balls smashed his windscreen and made a hundred potholes all over the body.
We’d waited weeks for proper rain in the region, then this happens; entire car parks of damaged vehicles, buildings with roofs punched through with bullet-like holes and power cuts across several suburbs, all in a matter of minutes.
Thankfully and somewhat ironically, DD had put my car in our garage just before he set off to pick up his own because he’d received a text warning about the hailstorm from the insurers. This meant I was able to drive him back out to the yacht club by the lake where he had taken refuge when the hailstorm hit en route from the mechanics to the High Commission and where he had subsequently left his damaged car. As we approached, the ground of the yacht club car park was covered car-tyre deep in green foliage, and for one crazy moment I thought that the sudden onslaught of moisture had somehow caused every sprig of weed to plume up like giant broccoli. In fact, of course, it was leaves and branches that had fallen in the gale force winds, which had also, I saw in some cases, contributed to the windscreen smashing.
Part of the confusion was that the fallen foliage looked as if it was shimmering with life, for within an hour of the flash storm a gigawatt sun had emerged squat in the sky, making everything look bright and sparkly. Unbelievably there was barely a wet patch left on the roads and the sky was the kindest, happiest blue I had seen in a while.
It was as if the city had been given a power shower. It had had its long-accumulated impurities hosed off in the most efficient manner, been given a full body acupuncture and was now emerging rigorously refreshed but also a bit stunned and more than a little bruised. As I drove savouring the view that had been entirely missing during the weeks of smoke, sighing at the purple silhouette of the surrounding mountain range, I imagined the weather gods up above looking down wearing an innocent expression that says, ‘What? You have a problem?’ Meanwhile, the other drivers I passed on the road in their battered cars, hair flowing and face squinting in the glorious fresh air and sunshine that hit them full blast through their broken windows – they wore expressions that were rather priceless.
‘It’s like the car’s got acne,’ DD observed when we stepped out in the evening to put out the rubbish. It certainly felt like his car was going through some turbulent teenage years, pummeled at every turn and always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But at least now, thanks to the storm, it’s cleaner than it’s ever been and sparkling in the sun. Acne never looked so beautiful.