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02/08/2014

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Cristin

That is so true about speaking in months. I never realized that I did that before, but it gets so confusing otherwise.

Samantha

Same here! Plus, I really just miss the defined seasons of home! I miss fall. It's so wrong to have fall leaves in May - but, gosh darn it, at least you get to see them. October is just not the same without the leaves, the crisp air, the apple cider, football games, and month long Halloween decorations.

David

Thanks Christie. I remember seeing the Australian comedy movie "Muriel's Wedding" while living in Edinburgh. When the main character is asked by a shop assistant in a bridal shop when the wedding would be, she replies "September", to which the shop assistant, sighed " ah I love a spring wedding ". The cinema erupted into laughter - and yet that was not a joke. The rest of the film was filled with Australian cultural references which passed over the head of the audience, but one standard piece of dialogue which was never intended to be funny brought laughter to this northern hemisphere audience.

In answering your question, I can say that I was never confused when, as a young adult, I moved to the Northern hemisphere. However, the reason for this has nothing to do with my age and more to do with the ambi-hemispheric way in which we Southern Hemisphere people are brought up. In other words, we are confused from an early age.....

Southern Hemisphere people are part of a global English speaking culture that is dominated by Northern hemisphere poetic and cultural references. "It's June in January because I'm in love"." My love is like a red red rose that's newly sprung in June". As a result we mentally "translate" the imagery depending on context and with whom we are speaking or by adjusting our minds for the author's origin. Sadly, it is not replaced by opposite and equal feelings for the way our own months fall. I simply associate autumn leaves with autumn and never with a month. April does not conjure up in my mind fall leaves by any means. It's simply not a poetic image that has resonance with me. Neither, might I add, does my association with the month of October. I for one discovered how blunt my emotional attachment to months could be when I lived in the Northern hemisphere and experienced for the first time as an adult (20 something) the emotional rather than literary meaning of seasonal imagery and many of the traditions with which I grew up suddenly made more sense.

Growing up here, seasonal confusion was normal as we knew that the "real thing" was somewhere else. We eagerly embraced traditions our grandparents brought here from Europe long ago and didn't question this attitude. Almost out of a colonial British stiff upper lip, we like all of our neighbours, rigorously attended to many winter traditions at Christmas. We even bought fake snow to spray on our windows while sweltering with mid-summer heat. I remember sitting down to formal hot Christmas lunches with Turkey and Christmas pudding with custard, then, when finished, racing to flee the stuffy dining room and unbutton our best clothes to go outside and run under the lawn sprinkler wearing only short pants. This was the early 70s and any move to change traditions was associated by my father with unpatriotic ne'er do well layabout draft dodgers with long hair and hippy attitudes. He like most "sensible" people clung to European traditions their fathers or grandfathers brought out here on a ship.

That's all changing rapidly. When we returned home to Australia after living in Scotland for a decade, we finally felt comfortable discarding winter traditions and taking on new weather appropriate ones. Australia had changed also. It was less hankering after another place like our homesick parents and was more comfortable being itself. It's a generational thing. Younger people would now think it comical if they saw how most people celebrated Christmas just 30-40 years ago. However, while we may have sorted our Christmas traditions out, our poetry almost never mentions the names of months. That side of us is forever blunted I suspect. Ambi-hemispheric or hemisphere-agnostic perhaps.... That's us.

Christie

Wow, that is very fascinating. I knew some of this from having discussed it with you on more than one occasion, but to see it all written out like that makes me feel a little sad for you and others growing up in Oz and NZ thirty years ago. I wonder what it is like for South Americans who move north.

Cosette

David's account above is fascinating. I too have struggled with the topsy-turvey calendar. Easter in autumn, Christmas in summer, and Halloween in spring - it all felt very strange. I'm adjusting. The seasons here are so different from what I knew in Miami.

Kelli

Seasons are so ingrained. It's one of the things I really miss about living in the desert- it gets 'cold,' relatively speaking in the winter, but leaves don't change and one warm day brings flowers out. Your pictures are beautiful!

Jackie

This is a fantastic post, and really captures how disorienting it can be to experience summer in January and February. I went to Kangaroo Island for Christmas this year, and as much fun as I had, and as much as I celebrated Christmas with my partner....well, it just wasn't Christmas without cold weather and homemade hot, comforting traditional dishes. You asked to hear from people in their 20s, and while i'm not in my early 20s - I can say that it's still pretty disorienting. But not having children makes it a little easier to adapt, I imagine. I did really like going to the beach on Christmas day!

Christie

Thanks so much for your responses Kelli and Jackie. It's interesting to get feedback from others who have left the North American seasonal cycle. Saying that you went to Kangaroo Island for Christmas and spent Christmas day on the beach---doesn't get more Aussie than that! My husband and I disagree about Christmas in Australia. He loves the fact that when he has two weeks off, the weather is beautiful. I see his point, but still it doesn't seem like Christmas to me without snow and long dark nights.

Shanda Ives

Absolutely, this would be the hardest thing for me, too. I loved reading this and the comments as I sit by the window and see snow everywhere! LOL

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