“I like seasons.”
A tourist from Idaho visiting The Garden in March
I volunteer in a local public garden, spending one morning a week engaging the squirrels and rabbits in battles over doomed vegetables. When I greet visitors on such occasions, as a docent and representative of the Garden, I am polite, informative and a generally all-around nice person.
So, after complimenting me personally on the lovely warm sunny morning I’d arranged for her visit (ha ha), the recent visitor said she’s only in town for a few days visiting family, and then she and her spouse return to Idaho because, and I quote: I like seasons. In my capacity as a docent, I gritted my teeth and laughed at her original little joke as if I’d never heard it before, refrained from whacking her with my pitchfork, and returned to turning the compost pile - perhaps with a bit more vigor than before our brief conversation.
But here’s what I was thinking.
Here’s the thing, you yokel. As a gardener, I actually do notice seasonal change in my climate. Your moronic observation is not only wrong, it assumes we’re all Philistines who take the easy way out and enjoy our perfect Eden in our perfect and unchanging climate, while you and your hardy brethren build character and muscles “enjoying” your fancy-schmancy real seasons up there in Idaho.
We have seasons, sister. The thing is, our seasons might be a bit too subtle for you. Our winter doesn’t reach through the storm windows and shake you by the neck this time of year. We don’t carry umbrellas nine months a year; we don’t shovel snow or rake leaves; or undertake other endless seasonal chores to magically improve our bodies and minds struggling through changing seasons.
People like you who expect the seasons to smack them in the face with a different collection of sights, sounds, smells every few months might not notice our seasons. Our autumn doesn’t announce itself by causing the entire landscape to turn gaudy shades of red and yellow before curling up, turning brown, and falling off the trees and bushes. Our spring doesn’t knock us over with a riot of color as everything awakens from hibernation and blooms in the same ten minutes, making sales of benedril spike. Our summer isn’t damp and moldy with 95% humidity, when your sweat makes you stick to your sheets as you toss and turn through the night, swatting mosquitoes you hope don’t infect you with exotic diseases. And yes, we don’t shovel snow or slide into each other like bumper cars on ice every winter.
In winter here, many of the Southern Hemisphere Mediterranean climate natives - like grevallia (pictured here) and gum trees - bloom at the same time their relatives are blooming in the Australian summer. As a tourist from Idaho, you probably didn’t notice that spring is coming. It’s not here yet, but the orange blossoms on the orange tree in my front yard will knock you out if you approach closer than about ten steps. The air is warmer, not as dry as later in the summer, and filled with mysterious promise and new scents as winter departs and spring approaches. In autumn, the summer population of birds departs and we hear the flocks of wild parrots yammering overhead as they move farther south.
In winter we have to wear sweaters some mornings, and we greet the rain with joy and abandon. Unlike the summer rain of my childhood in a “real” climate, when we put on our bathing suits and cavorted in the street, rain here is cold and discourages fun. When my daughter was young, we’d put on our boots and raincoats in the first rain, and walk to the top of a nearby street and make little rafts out of eucalyptus leaves and twigs and sail them down the gutter. Then we’d come home and drink hot chocolate – celebrating the seasonal change that you might have missed because you were too busy disparaging our climate simply because it’s a bit different from yours.
There. That feels better.