When it got really cold when I was a kid, I used to pull the doona off my bed to insulate me from the cold lino. I’d sit down in front of the an overworked electric wall heater and spend half the night reading Asterix books.
Those evenings I’d click the electric blanket up to maximum setting of three and most often leave it on all night. Some days I’d go to school having left it on, leaving Mum to switch it off mid morning and give me a lecture about fire danger when I got home.
On those coldest mornings, when the outside steps would ice over, my Dad and I would be already over Hindmarsh Drive and half way to school before the tiny heater in our Mitsubishi people mover would start producing hot air. Those mornings Mum would send us off with a hot drink for the 10-minute drive.
I’ve always had a special relationship with heating.
While other memories have been obliterated by time, I can still picture the red tartan of my old hot water bottle or hear the creak of the cast-iron wood heater we used in my first group house.
This visceral connection to heating isn’t exclusively a Canberra thing, but it is a Canberra thing.
Newcomers might complain about the cold their first few winters, but they may just come around to enjoying the fact we have proper seasons here.
Some might think me mad, but I don’t envy the stability of temperature my friends living in Brisbane or the Gold Coast enjoy. Wearing shorts, T-shirts and thongs is great for a time, but I enjoy almost as much putting on a heavy coat for a walk to the neighbourhood pub.
Knowing there’s a big difference between what you can get away with wearing to a Raiders or Brumbies match in mid April and late April or that a membership card for a licensed club is handy to have as an ice scraper is part of being Canberran.
It’s why there are conversations around workplaces or on social media this week about whether it’s time. Is it time to put on the gas or light the fireplace for the first time this year?
Like planting tomatoes after Melbourne Cup Day, the "rule" of Canberra is that heaters shouldn’t go on till Anzac Day. And like the tomato rule, there’s rigid observance from some and firm rejection from others.
After a zero degrees night over the weekend, I used Facebook to remind my friends that Canberrans should keep their hands off their heaters till Friday.
While one supporter of the rule posted a meme showing Batman slapping Robin for putting the heater on early, others called me a heater Nazi, a tightarse or just cruel.
One friend said: ‘‘I’d like to consider myself reasonable first, Canberran second’’.
But he would say that, he’s only lived here 10 years.
What are your memories of keeping warm in Canberra? Do you observe the April 25 heating rule?