I was preparing to leave Brisbane this week for the cooler climates of South Australia and Victoria. I had my last coffee with my Brisbane friend before getting the train to the airport. The day before I had finally divested my luggage of shorts, tee shirts and shortie pyjamas and acquired a few polo necks and skivvies for the journey south. Into autumn and then winter.
It will be the first time I will experience cooler if not colder temperatures since returning from a crisp and beautiful autumn in Canada in October last year. When I returned then to the heat of Canberra I rejoiced at ridding myself of my collection of winter clothes.All of course, apart from the special woollens my Canadian friend Beth had given me. The thick sweaters bore the label “Handmade by Mother” and had been knitted in the Kowatchan design, so were classical Canadian knits. They had been a special gift to keep me warm as I travelled to the cold interior of British Columbia. And I did enjoy wearing them.
My Brisbane friend lamented the lack of seasons in sub tropical Brisbane and our discussion started me thinking about the need to experience seasonal change-as much for us humans as plants and animals.
I have to declare that I am a summer person. I love the freedom of wearing fewer clothes and experiencing the full blossoming of life in all its divergent colour, smell and form. Of course in summer, I like to be close to the sea-a beach for swimming or if not a beach then certainly a pool.
Last year I achieved my goal. Yes, I managed to skip winter by taking a three month house sit in Geraldton, where in summer it can get excruciatingly hot, but in winter, enjoys temperate and pleasant days. The house was situated directly opposite the Indian ocean from where soft breezes would enter my bedroom windows at night. Sure, there were some blustery days but overall, the place lived up to its promise and I went swimming a couple of times when the sea temperature was in the low twenties and air temperature approaching 30 degrees Celsius.
I felt like I had cheated the seasons, the natural order of things and attracted some jealousy of friends, trudging through frosty dark days of winter. After all, shouldn’t we follow the natural rhythm of life? Well after fourteen years of living in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, I wanted to have just one year when I could experience summer in July and August.
Nature does best with seasonal change, allowing for a balance of fallow and blossoming but do we humans have a need for this ebb and flow in life? People who seek eternal summer can be seen to be feckless or superficial but are they? Summer is so often associated with ease and flow and winter, contraction and limitation. Both have an important purpose in nature but do both serve an important purpose in human life?
I recall that Jim Carey movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. The plot revolves around a man who decides to have a treatment to remove what he thinks are the painful memories of his ex, only to discover that he wants to hang on to the bad as well as the good memories because he is still in love. I think we do need both light and shadow , summer and winter, love and pain, because it is only by having the contrast that we can truly appreciate both states. So this year I’ll be celebrating my birthday in July in the heart of a Canberra winter. Still I’ll be warmed by sharing it with family. And I’ll remember fondly, my year of eternal summer
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