I woke up this morning and opened the curtains to find myself staring straight into the eye of the Apocalypse.
The sky was a fiery, metallic orange, as in the afterglow of a nuclear explosion or a duststorm on Mars. Yes, I watch too many Science-Fiction movies.
But from my second-floor balcony, at about 6.45am, I could see people pausing in the peak-hour rush to take pics with their cellphones, so this clearly wasn’t an everyday phenomenon in Manly.
I grabbed my camera and hastened to the wharf, where there was a curious energy in the air, a palpable sense that man or nature had done something weird to the weather. The sky was just a sheet of burnished metal; neither the sun nor the clouds were visible.
There was a sepia tint to the landscape, with a veil of haze over it all, as if someone had gone a little overboard with the filters in Photoshop. An ambulance sped by with sirens blaring, its red light made redder by the eerie glow of dawn.
Then I saw the sign at the entrance to the wharf: “Owing to a severe duststorm, services have been suspended”. A man in a fluorescent jacket was stopping commuters on their way to the ferry, telling them that the whole of Sydney was covered in dust, and that they could catch busses to the city until the storm lifted.
I didn’t see a single person complain or whine or roll their eyes. The Aussies seem to have a very lackadaisical attitude to meteorological inconveniences. Or maybe it’s just that it’s nice to have a legitimate excuse to grab a coffee and be an hour or so late for work.
I watched the news to see if there had actually been a nuclear conflagration, but no, it was just a massive wall of red-rock dust moving in from the Northern Territories. Which would make for an even cooler Science-Fiction movie, come to think of it.