This is the third complete cycle of seasons I’m experiencing in Oz. Winter just started and it’s been biting and blustery. I stepped outside in a jacket, scarf and gloves to start the commute to work yesterday and thought, “This feels like the East Coast in mid-November.”
“Cold” wasn’t a word I saw written anywhere in relation to Australia. Back in the States, I’d seen news videos of Aussies jumping into the water at Bondi on Christmas Day. I’d heard that there’s a lot of barbecuing, a lot of barefoot padding around and a lot of swimming, sailing and water sports. This all meant, in my mind, that it never gets cold.
But it does. And it’s timing, from about May through September, still throws me off even 2.5 years later.
The smell of wood burning, the subtle turn of the leaves from green to red and gold, the chill on my neck and the space heater next to our couch make me think of Halloween and Thanksgiving. I think of baking pumpkin and apple pies, putting on “hibernation weight” from eating all those pies and diving under duvets to stay warm. I think of the lead-up to Christmas, time off from work or school and lots of parties and office gatherings to celebrate the season.
It’s not how it happens here, in a place where Easter is in autumn, Halloween is in spring and New Year’s Day can be one of the hottest days of the year.
Having the cold season come in what I’ve always experienced as summer months is a strange, strange thing, especially when my Facebook feed starts getting cluttered with status updates from people back home about going to the beach, going for beers outside, heat waves and Phillies games. More than a few expat friends have said to me lately that this is the time of year that makes them feel homesick, not Thanksgiving or Christmas. Unlike American fall and winter, there is no string of holidays to look forward to in Australia this time of year. We have Monday off here in New South Wales this weekend, but other than that, no more holidays come up until October.
The good news is this tends to be the time of year when you see scores of cheap flights and holiday package deals, so if you want to escape to a warmer destination, you can. I at least have my trip to Hawaii to look forward to in about five weeks. In the weeks leading up to that trip, I have a ton of social outings planned on weekends. There is the Vivid light festival near the Opera House and Circular Quay, the jazz festival at Darling Harbour, a winter festival at Bondi and Christmas in July celebrations. It’s a nice way to break up the winter stretch.
Have you traveled to or lived in a country with opposite seasons from the ones you’ve always known? How does it make you feel?
Disclosure: I received compensation for a link in this post.