Whenever March 1 arrives, I expect it to be autumn in the northern hemisphere. Our seasons in Australia, you see, are exceptionally rational. Every three months, they change, on the first of the month. This is because we borrowed Europe’s four seasons because our culture is European. We actually have six seasons, and we know what will happen and when, but they don’t affect the calendar. They’re based on what we see and know and feel. In Canberra, for example, winter bedding is usually brought out on 25 April (my birthday, and also ANZAC Day) even though winter doesn’t begin until 1 June. The wind patterns change in late April, and, more often than not, on 25 April. Not in the whole of Australia, just in Canberra. The north has its wet and its dry, and still has the calendrical seasons. I suspect this is how we deal with having a whole continent with radically different weather and seasons. I live in an area with a real winter, but in the north, it never gets cold.

The thing about autumn is that the weather genuinely changes in most of south east Australia. 1 March was abysmally hot. Last night (4 March, because I’m almost a day ahead of you) was under 9 degrees in Canberra, which means under 50 degrees US-style and today was very pleasant indeed. We’ll still get a bit of warmth over the next couple of weeks and maybe some rain and then the winds will set in. Autumn is the season of variation, you see.

What I shall do tomorrow is put away my nice cool summer clothes and make sure I can find t-shirts and leggings and maybe a cardigan or a hoodie to put over them. Around my birthday, I’ll pull out heavy duty stuff. Every year, the first week of March is about putting some things away and taking other things out and wondering how people manage in regions where the temperature is so sadly constant.

The university year is in full swing now. We begin in late February and from then until the end of this week work is fitted in between meetings and forms. This is another thing I do not (and never will) understand: how the study year can’t begin in the early part of the calendar year and end in December. The northern hemisphere is such a mysterious part of the world.

One thought on “Seasons

  1. In the U.S., the public schools were built around farming back when a large portion of the population was rural, and it has never changed. The whole system, including universities, is built around that even though the portion of our population that now works in agriculture is small and better systems could be designed. So everything starts in September, which really doesn’t make sense, except that having spent 19 years getting educated that way I still think of things as starting in September.

    If I were designing a calendar, I’d start things with spring rather than in the middle of winter or the tale end of summer (maybe almost fall in some places). New growth times seem more appropriate to me.

    I’ve lived in enough different places in the U.S. to realize that seasons are very different things depending on where you are. It’s the rainy season now in north-central coastal California. Sometimes it’s a bit cold, but mostly we just get rain a lot, sometimes big downpours, other times just days of drizzle. Neither summer nor winter here is significant if you’ve lived in places where it actually gets cold or hot, but the difference between rain and no rain is a very strong divider. I noticed that same pattern in Guatemala, where it rarely gets very cold or very hot, but has rainy and dry seasons. The other seasons don’t matter much there or, for that matter, here, where we have flowers blooming year round. Some trees lose leaves in “winter” and others go dormant in summer (more due to dry than heat), but a lot of plants are good year round.

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