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Where I am from in Australia, we have two seasons: wet and dry. The wet season lasts from about October to March, and it pretty much means hell. Over 90% humidity every day so you hibernate in the air-conditioning, and if you do unfortunately need to step outside you sweat. A lot. You feel as if your face is melting as the tiny droplets of perspiration appear almost immediately. It also means rain, hence the term wet. You would hope the rain would offer a reprieve from the heat, but as soon as the clouds have emptied the air is even thicker with humidity. As you can tell, I am not a fan. You get used to it but you never enjoy it. The dry season, however, is why I would return there: beautiful, cloudless days when you can still wear sun-dresses even though it is technically winter in other parts of Australia.
I never really thought too much about the seasons back home. But since moving to Vancouver, I have realised how much people rely on seasons. They rely on the calendar to tell them what to wear and when to wear it. It dictates how they will spend their weekend: outside/on vacation/snug by the fire. It is no surprise to everyone I know that winter has been hard for me. I loved seeing snowfall from the sky and waking up Christmas morning to a fire instead of the purr of an air-conditioner. But I hated the effect it had on my body and wearing six layers just to exit the apartment.
But this week I have finally noticed the shift to spring. The days are getting longer. I am down to wearing just two layers. The coat is hung in my closet instead of behind my door. And outside, the trees and flowers are blooming. There are cherry blossoms appearing everywhere and people are running away the winter weight. Back home, I never really noticed this shift. Being a tropical environment, palm trees remain the same year-round. The grass is your season indicator: brown = dry and green = wet.
I’ve also found my expat-self looking forward to the summer so much more than in Australia. As in, “I can’t wait to do this/see this in the summer.” My fellow Australian expat, Kate agrees.
“Back home, the weather doesn’t really affect anyone’s mood or lifestyle. But here because winter is such a long stretch, you really appreciate the summer and how alive the city feels when it’s sunny. It makes you appreciate what you’ve got while it lasts.”
We put so much pressure on this one season to be so much: what happens if it doesn’t live up to the hype? What if you are let down? You have to wait another year for a retrial. It just amazes me so much how seasons play such a vital role in society.
Maybe when I do eventually return home, I will focus on the seasons more. Maybe it is just being from tropical, northern Australia that my mind is only focussed on unbearable heat and comfortable heat.