Tea breaks and heat stroke

Do we need a thermos when it's 40 degrees?

Riding a push bike on a long dirt track in 40-degree heat is not for the faint hearted. But for a ten-year-old farm kid, it's normal. No helmet, probably no hat, just grit and the 'pluk-pluk' sound of a playing card fastened with a peg to the wheel to make it sound like a motor.

It's shearing time, and the normally quiet farm with very few visitors is a hive of activity. Sweaty, tanned, lean men arrive at the shed each morning. We are taught that there is a hierarchy in the shed, and the shearers are right at the top.

There are rules. Do not touch their gear, stay out of the way, and it is okay for them to smoke, but we can be disgusted by anyone else.

These men have the hardest job in the toughest conditions, and our livelihood depends on them doing it well.

Break time is holy, a blessed relief from the labouring. There is no such thing as 'working through'.

Of course, they all drink tea. Steaming hot tea from ceramic mugs, the kind that burns your lip on the first sip. And who is responsible for the delivery of the tea? Me.

I carry that thermos of tea in my backpack and make the journey from house to shearing shed, a distance of a few kilometres. 

The heat is intense. The pressure to arrive is intense. The backpack is hot.

But the glory is mine on arrival. I water and feed the superhero shearers. I make them stronger and probably even more sweaty. I am part of the team.

And so, as we head into another intense Australian summer, I know that I'll still be leaning on a hot, steaming cup of tea for sustenance. I might not be as physically spent, but I definitely will be mentally. 

Take time for tea this Christmas tea lovers.