The heat is searing and superb. The paddocks surrounding the town are bleached blond. The distant ring-barked gums, mile after mile, wriggle in the heat-waves, and seem to melt like the bristles of a melting hairbrush. The hills turn powder-blue and gauzy. Mirages resembling pools of mica and shallows of crystal water appear at the far ends of streets and roads. Punctually at eleven every burning morning, the cicadas begin to drill the air, to drill themselves also, ceaselessly and relentlessly, to death in one short day after seven long years underground.