I love the turning of the seasons, that moment when you see the first flush of autumn color, or the first white frost that blankets the ground and etches the world in shades of grey, the first precious buds of blossom or new leaves spouting from bare limbs, or the appearance of little green fruits that tell you summer is almost here. We each have different markers of the season, depending on where we live, and even though for so many of us who live in cities and maybe have no garden, still we mark the seasons.
My home town (Melbourne, in the south-eastern corner of Australia) is famous—infamous?— for having four seasons in one day, and I have to say, it's pretty true. Our weather is very changeable.
But in any case, I constantly juggle seasons — in my imagination it's one season (whenever the story I'm working on is set) while outside it's usually a completely different season — and then on social media, friends in different parts of the world are in a different season again. I must admit I sometimes have to check which season I'm actually in.
Currently in my corner of the world, it's spring, and I have all kinds of gorgeous flowers in bloom in my garden. (Above is sweet scented philadelphus – mock-orange and below there's also jacaranda) Some friends in other parts of the world are already shoveling snow from their drives, and some live in the warmer corners where the season doesn't have much of an impact.
I have a good friend who lives in tropical Australia, where it's warm all year round and there are only two seasons — wet and dry. She's never seen snow, she's never experienced a landscape where all the trees are turning color. I remember once when she was planning a winter trip to Melbourne (where I live in the south-eastern corner of Australia) and was most excited about having purchased Special Purpose Clothing for the trip — a coat!
She recently visited the UK and to her delight experienced a proper autumn — and waxed lyrical at the magnificent colors of the autumn leaves. And the smell. She can't grow half the flowers that I take for granted — roses rot in her climate, for instance—but she has amazing tropical flowers, and asparagus all year round and she picks mangoes and papaya and chocolate sapote and all kinds of wonderful fruit from her own garden.
We each take our own climate so much for granted, don't we? I remember once when a friend of mine's mother, who was born and grew up in North Wales, was visited by her Welsh sisters. I gave them each a pot of apricot jam to take home, made from the apricots from the tree in her back yard. I thought it might be a nice little remembrance, but the sisters were amazed — apricots — from her own tree! She just went out the back door and picked them! Which is much how I feel about my tropical friend's mangoes. And she about my roses.
I made a mistake in a book, once, having a local villager giving the heroine a pile of lemons. It was an assumption I'd made, because I live in the cold part of Australia. that the plants that grow in my back yard would grow in England — and so I hadn't researched it. Some kind reader wrote to me and said — no way! Lemons don't grow in back yards in England — and of course, thinking about it, I recalled the upper classes had "orangeries" in which they grew their precious citrus fruits. I just hadn't put two and two together.
My favorite season is Autumn — where I live it's sunny and warm in the day, cool and crisp at night — a blessing after the summer heat— and we have a few imported trees that turn color. (Australian native plants don't do Autumn.) One day I'll get to the parts of the US and Canada that are famous for Fall color. For me, the turning of the Virginia creeper that grows outside my office window from lush green, as it is now, to brilliant scarlet is such a treat.
I love spring too, but I suspect in climates where there's been a long and bitter winter, it's much more of a celebration. No wonder the old-time pagans in cold and snowy climes celebrated Spring with wild abandon. And I love the way the Japanese celebrate Spring blossoms — one day I will go to Japan for cherry-blossom season.
A few years ago I recall friends in the US surprised me by complaining of a too-mild winter. Apparently they felt a good freeze cleaned things up in some way, and prepared them for a healthy spring. That would never have occurred to me.
So what season (or flowers) are you experiencing at the moment? Is there a season do you look forward to most? Is there any seasonal event or ritual you particularly enjoy—or one you'd love to experience?