Sunday, May 2, 2010
I have never quite got used to living at the opposite end of the world. It's May and, as Europe bursts into Spring, my English brain is programmed to expect my garden to deliver new foliage, daffodils, crocus and birdsong. I imagine baby lambs in the fields and bluebells on shady banks. The sun should be waking me earlier and there should be Spring cleaning on my to-do list. Here in the southern hemisphere we are sliding into Autumn and my garden, deprived of water after the hot summer, is shutting down for the winter ahead. The roses are valiantly trying to bloom on spindly stems and already the trees are taking on an autumnal look. Birds are winging their way northwards for the summer and, for me,everything is happening in reverse.
It's odd to live out of step with the seasons and even odder that we don't even get a proper winter in Port Elizabeth - the daytime temperatures are often the same or higher than those in the UK - so we gear up for a winter that is more like a summer interrupted by series of cold snaps. If that sounds confusing - its exactly how it feels.
The weirdest for me though, is to hear Christmas carols sung in December when the sun is high in the brightest of blue skies - I don't think that I will ever get used to that or the fact that I usually decorate my Christmas tree wearing shorts or a swimming costume as its just too hot to be so energetic in December. Old habits die hard though and we still serve a traditional piping hot turkey Christmas dinner with all the trimmings in the midsummer sizzle.
So,I wonder if our brains are climatically programmed early in life and if these early experiences create seasonal expectations that stay with us for the rest of our days. It certainly seems like it to me and I feel destined to live out of sync with the seasons in the southern hemisphere.