There are some experiences that trigger memories of times long gone in faraway places.

The smell of rain, hitting parched earth covered in dead gum leaves, is one that transports me back to childhood, to a time when we lived in a hamlet named Terowie. It’s still on the map but most of what I remember of the place is now gone into the shadowy world of history.

For a nine year old boy it was a place of magic.

Steam trains breathed hot steam and smoke as they shunted goods wagons to and fro in the railway yards across the road from our house.

It was a place of hot summer days and freezing summer nights.

A place of cold winters with very little rain.

A place where all fresh water came from the sky and was stored in a huge underground tank.

When it did rain, the dry ground littered with fallen leaves from the gum trees in our backyard gave off a wonderful odour.

Whenever I smell that odour these days I am transported back to those carefree days of boyhood.

Leaves on path

I often wonder how kids that grow up in city apartment buildings ever come to any appreciation of nature and her cycles.

My own sons grew up in suburbia, in a house with a tree-filled garden and within walking distance of a nearby park, populated with majestic gum trees, with a river running through it. So much water and so many trees, even they have no concept of living in a landscape of drought.

I have stood at the window, looking out over the concrete jungle we call Manhattan, and watched the rain fall. No magic smell of rain hitting parched earth there.

Perhaps I should try Arizona the next time I visit.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.

Middle class crime in the suburbs

Last week I enjoyed reading Cold Granite, Book 1 in the Logan McRae series, by Stuart MacBride, on my daily commute.

A couple of things caught my attention.

The story is set in Aberdeen, Scotland, during December, so it rains on nearly every page. This is not something we have to deal with in Australia, where if it rains during a story, it might be once in the entire book. Australians are used to foul deeds being committed in fine weather. We know a lot more about drought than deluge, despite a few recent skirmishes with floods, hail storms and cyclones. The evidence is more likely to be destroyed by fire than water down here.

burglarThe world of crime depicted by MacBride in Cold Granite is one where the criminals can only be described as social misfits from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

On reflection, I realised that my Inspector West series is definitely middle class crime. I wonder if I am taking that advice to write about what I know – middle class life in the suburbs – too literally.

How do you like your crime? Do you want your criminals to be socially inept, mentally challenged misfits? Or do you prefer them to be people like you who, for one reason or another, find themselves on the wrong side of the law?

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.