All is still. Only the faint hum of distant traffic can be heard while an eerie moonlit glow covers the darkness. In the corner of the back yard, next to a tall gum tree, there stands a corrugated iron shed lit up by the moonlight. A dim light can be seen in the window. In this amateur radio shack, my friendís voice is coming to me carried by radio waves travelling half way around the world from the Yorkshire Dales in northern England.
ĎItís freezing here. Iím just about sitting on top of the electric heater as we speak,í Oliver said, his voice interrupted now and again by the crackle of static.
ĎSoon I wonít be able to get to work anymore because weíll be snow in and Iím worried about the antenna. Itís taking a battering in this wind. I just hope it doesnít break!í
Oliver, nineteen years old is two years older than me. Both he and I are Amateur Radio operators. We talk to each other most Saturdays using our Ham radios, radio wave propagation conditions permitting. Oliver lives with his parents who ran a herd of dairy cattle on their property and he works in the nearby town of Skipton as an apprentice electrician. Itís about midday there while here, in the land down under, itís night time. Being on opposite sides of the earth, our weather seasons are polar opposites. Oliver had explained that the wintry weather had dumped snow and ice on their property which now completely covers the ground. By contrast, the weather here in Sydney, Australia has been hot and dry with day time temperatures nearing forty degrees Celsius.
ĎThe weather conditions are just too rough to go anywhere today,í Oliver continued, Ďbut I had better get off the radio. There are a few things I have to do here so I wonít keep it any longer. Iíll see you next Saturday, same time, same place. 73 for now.í
Oliver signed off and I, likewise. I was sitting in my small shed cum Ham shack in the backyard of my parentsí home listening to what Oliver had been saying. Perspiration was beading on my forehead as the odd mosquito buzzed around the desk lamp. It was a balmy summerís night, the temperature still in the high 20ís. I took off the headphones, pressed the power switch on the radio, turned off the light and locked up my Ham shack. Yawning, I started to make my way back up the garden path towards the house at the front of the property. But when at last I went to bed and while sleep slowly overcame me, ghostly images of snow laden country side faded in and out of my mind...