The lawn grass had turned into a straw-like yellow, consistent in dryness like a change of coloured carpet. The geraniums on the side had shrivelled leaves and thinned flowering blooms and buds, reflecting a change in the weather pattern whilst I was away from Australia. Adelaide and Melbourne had recorded a maximum of 43.8 degrees Celsius in the days just gone past, but I did not expect such effects in New South Wales. I recalled the burnt brown leaves one New Year's Day upon my return from Tasmania, and especially the smell of burnt bush hanging in the air even as I just stepped outside Sydney Airport. There was no such intensity this first day of February, but the mandarin shrub had turned obviously yellow. with little green left in its leaves.
The cricket was on for most of the rest of the day, having been telecast live from Perth, on the other side of the continent. King Federer was due to give his crown to younger Spaniard Rafael Nadal later that night in the Australian Open in Melbourne. One of my neighbours had kindly placed my Sunday paper delivery neatly near my front door. Even if not significant, there was a bit of drowsiness from somehow losing three hours off the clock flying across from Singapore.
My office looked the same as I left it - having been reliably looked after by good mates. I had to quickly get back to the routines and demands of the business. The evenings turned out to be more oppressive in heat than when I left the place just before my holidays. Restarting my home kitchen was always a possible challenge after being leisurely fed by family and friends during the festive break away, but I commenced with a curry and a herbal soup. On the third night I ventured back to the local supermarket after the night air had cooled down, but they were closing soon after I arrived and I could not even get the things I had intended to purchase.
Some things do change. A colleague I enjoyed working with was leaving after seven years, and I arranged for a few of us to enjoy a lunch with her near the waterfront.
I was pleasantly surprised when my previously black moore turned golden orangy in colour, perhaps due to water conditions in the tank or her diet when I was away,but for the Lunar New Year, it is indeed truly special. My car still had the crackling electronic sound which was still unexplained when I got it checked at the service yard before I left. It was truly amazing when the sound stopped, albeit temporarily, when Chris drove it - but the strange audio came back when I took the wheels again to go to the supermarket.