It is the first of March. The first day of autumn. And yes, it feels like that. I have put my dressing gown on in bed to write this. I am contemplating wearing trousers to work.
Summer will linger on for some weeks yet. We will still have days when it is hot and sunny. But the mornings and evenings definitely have an autumnal feel. I have to dodge the fallen conkers when I run through Malvern Park. The oak trees around our property are starting to drop their leaves all over the lawn and garden, which take advantage of moist nights and warm days to have one last burst of growth. The mornings are darker and the nights are longer.
I like seasons. I like living in a place with definite seasons. It is nice after three months of t-shirts and singlets, shorts and jandals to put on a completely different set of clothes. The long sleeved tees come out, jeans make a more frequent appearance. My hot water bottle lives more on the bed than in the bathroom. We eat different foods. Salads become coleslaw, steak becomes roast. And while we say good bye to berries and stone fruit, it is the season of the crunchy apple, corn on the cob, and abundant tomatoes. Autumn means Easter.
Winter follows autumn. Our winters are not severe. They are not long. Winter means my birthday. Winters mean ugg boots and beanies, and that is just inside our lounge! (Earthquake cracks let in damp and cold air). Layers of merino. Even my socks are merino. I am very easily chilled. The crock pot comes into its own. Roasts. Casseroles. Comfort food. Puddings. We may have days of rain. Our earthquake damaged drive turns to mud. The creek rises to above its boards. The cats slink around the side of the house to quickly do their business. Then look miserable until rubbed dry with a towel. In recent years we have had more snow falls than I remember as a kid. I like snow. And of course the skiers love it when it snows. We are only 90 minutes from a choice of ski-fields. Not that I ski regularly anymore. I love to run in the snow, though. Once the frosts start winter is on the wane. The harder the frost, the better the day that follows. Nothing beats the view of the snow clad alps against a brilliant blue horizon of which we snatch glimpses driving around the city on a July morning.
My mother always claimed August was spring and certainly the signs of spring are there. The first lambs are born in July. The first bulbs bloom in August. But by September the sun has more warmth. Asparagus is the vegetable to eat. The extra layer of merino is replaced by a t-shirt. We get back into the garden. The first mowing of the lawn. A big clean out of fallen sodden leaves and scraggly soggy weeds. The bulbs are up, waving their yellow trumpets in the breeze. The nor’west wind starts to feel warm again. The streets are filled with people walking, running, biking, wanting that beach body, wanting to shed the excess pounds gained from the months of comfort food. Spring is growth and new hope. We plan our summer holiday. We have two long weekends to practice the holiday mode. The kids start to feel the pressure of end of year exams.
And finally December rolls around. The first day of summer. Often everyone is so busy by then with end of year and Christmas preparation to notice the change. Sometimes even the weather forgets. December can be a contrary month. I can be Christmas shopping in a puddle of sweat or hauling my parcels around dodging cold pelting rain. My butter could melt on the bench top while I bake Christmas goods or I could be thankful of the heat from the oven. Most years though by the time we sit down to Christmas dinner it is summer. January is summer holiday time. I always take winter clothes though. You just never know. And February, often the mist summery month, is time to go back to school and work. And spent time in a hot kitchen dealing with the abundance of fruit and vegetables, making jams and preserves for use later in the year.
New Zealand is a small country, an island at the bottom of a large ocean. We are not Australia, a big continent sitting further north. We don’t have really hot weather, especially in Christchurch. The sea breeze, that blasted easterly keeps us cool. We are a temperate climate. We have seasons.
I don’t have a favourite. There is something I love about all four. And I love the change of the seasons. Yes, I am sad to say goodbye to summer. It has been a good summer, and I feel a long summer. Some people may disagree. There was talk last week when we had a couple of days which hit the 30s that finally summer had arrived.
Their expectations are too high. We have had bits of summer since October. It is just our seasons don’t stay within their calendar months. So in one week we can have a number of seasons.
That’s just the way it is. There is one thing you can guarantee. The weather will change!
And so with a pinch and a punch I will face whatever today’s weather will bring.