Sunday, 2 December 2012

Snow cones at 35 degrees.

Our snow cones looked absolutely NOTHING like these ones.

Friday, in Sydney, was hot.  The hottest day of the year so far.  Until Saturday which was hotter.

Friday was also the day of our school's Christmas Markets.  A fundraiser involving lots of logistics and preparation for the wonderful organisers.  Local artisans who fancy themselves as producers of...something (jewellery, herbs, hair accessories, books- just to name a few), come and set up a stall and flog their wares.

Simultaneously, the school runs several stalls, second hand toys, tombola jars and rides for the kids.  After school care does face painting.  It's kid heaven.  Grown ups, not so much.

The tombola is a concept which is hugely popular, but one I'd never come across until last years fair.  Get a jar, fill it with stuff (lollies, chocolates, necklaces, pens/pencils, whatever).  Every family (theoretically) contributes 1 or 2 jars.  Then each jar gets a raffle ticket stuck to the lid.  The other side of the ticket is given out (normally $3-$5) you match them up and win whatever is in the jar.  It sells out quickly and it was mobbed.  We now have an enormous jar of smarties, a smaller one of beads and string for necklaces and one with a notebook, pen and assorted lollies.   The tombola ladies were completely run off their feet.  At the end one jar was left.  It was filled with wool.  The kid who won it rejected it.  I don't blame them.  Poor little bugger.

Look, no wool.  
Year 1 was in charge of snow cones.  And popcorn.  A roster was sent out and we signed up to work on the stall in half hour blocks.  The week before the markets, there are frantic emails going about everywhere requesting more volunteers, more tombola jars, and more cakes for the cake stall.

But on the day it all miraculously comes together.  The organisers have aged 5 years in a week, but it no longer matters.  Happy children frolic on the grass, out of their tiny minds on sugar, occasionally returning to their harried parents for more money for more sugar or someone else's rejected toys.

I signed up for the first shift from 3-3:30 and arrived at 10 to 3, to find very little snow and about 6 bags of ice which needed to be ground by the machine into the required fluffy snow coney texture.  It was so hot, the ice was melting, then refreezing when it got close to other ice, solidifying into one nasty ice block which wouldn't go into the mouth of the machine.

3:05 ticked closer.  The sun beat down.  We smashed ice frantically.  In the classrooms, hundreds of children thought about icy cool treats with lots of coloured cordial.  They all decided the snow cone machine would be their first port of call.

By 3:07 the line for snow cones was 10 deep, 5 minutes later it was 20.  At it's worst it must have had 40 people, patiently standing there in the sun, melting, waiting for some shaved ice with a bit of cordial poured on it.

Meanwhile, five women, in various stages of hysteria, poured, scooped, pounded and took $4 per cone.    We ran out of dollar coins about every 5 minutes.

2 metres away, the popcorn machine sat forlornly, a thin layer of popped corn at it's base, no queue, no attendant (she had abandoned popcorn and was trying to help the snow coners).   The snow cone line remained consistently long for nearly two hours, as various combinations of Mums served snow cones to an insatiable crowd.

At about 4:30 the ice ran out.  And that was that.  We could have sold more, if we'd known.  But you can't predict these things.  Last year it was bucketing with rain and the markets were held in the school hall.  It was feral. Few snow cones would have sold that day.  Popcorn would have gone off a treat though.

As time went on, our children appeared, tugged at us, demanded money for ridiculous things, and vanished, waving a note or coin, triumphant, knowing we were so distracted we just wanted them to go away.

The only thing I said no to was a build a bear.  For $30!  There was no way I was giving in, no matter how much Issy nagged me.  And oh boy did she try it on.  She kept going back to the lady and watching the other 'lucky' kids building their bears, and then back to me, to beg and plead some more.

When it was all over, we went to someones house for some well earned champagne, pizza and a swim for the kids.  All our snow cone cares washed away.