Over the past 6 months temperatures have slowly taken on a new meaning to me. I’ve adjusted my Fahrenheit brain to recognizing 30 as hot and 20 as a lovely day. I’ve learned a Melbourne 3 feels a heck of a lot like a North Carolina 15, and anything below zero here might as well be frozen tundra weather because I will NOT be going out in it. While I’ve finally learned the Celsius scale, and even swapped my iphone to the new system, I’ve recently started to take notice of a much more mentally taxing weather woe of Melbourne-the seasons here are completely and utterly flipped.
Ok, before you go off at me for stating the obvious, and discovering a “known” fact, hear me out. Before I came to Australia, I obviously knew the seasons here were reversed as compared to the states. I’d heard of “Christmas in July,” and I knew that come December I’d be trading my usual white Christmas for a very sunny, sandy one. However, knowing this and experiencing it are two very different things.
Being an international also poses its own unique challenges in relation to this topsy-turvy weather. Whilst I experience frigid winds, gloomy drizzles and overcast skies in my Melbourne winter, my friends and family back home are cheerfully posing in their bikinis whilst lounging beach-side with fruity umbrella drinks. So strong is my weather envy that I’ve joked on more than one occassion about avoiding social media through my winter months.
Taken my weather-induced trauma a step further is that while I expected the switcheroo for my winter and summer seasons, and even came here thinking a sunny sandy Christmas could be good fun, I didn’t even consider the months in-between. The end of August, for me, has always marked the start of cooling Fall weather. The transition into September was welcomed cheerfully as North Carolina summers could be quite brutal with intense heat waves lasting for weeks at a time. Besides, it’s no secret that Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Septembers, Octobers and Novembers back home were full of red and orange leaves taking over the trees, bonfires, pumpkin flavored everything, hoodies, state fairs, haunted mazes, jack-o-laterns and Thanksgiving turkeys. I loved hitting up the local market to find cinnamon scented broomsticks to fill my apartment with the “smell” of fall, and my table was always adorned with at least 2-3 pumpkins by the time October rolled around.
I imagine everyone has these types of emotional ties to certain times of the year. I guess on some level I knew of my attachment to fall, but now that I’ve “lost” that season, it’s taken on a much deeper meaning. Ok, I know that I haven’t actually lost the season. Obviously in the most literal sense, Fall still exists, it’s just been misplaced at the start of the year. So I may not have lost the season, but I did lose the connection between the season and the time of the year. I also more recently made the horrifying discovery that Halloween is not a “thing” here…And when you talk about pumpkin carving you are met with “she’s a crazy person” stares.
While these realizations have obviously been quite a shock to my system, I’ve accepted them as a challenge. I may not be able to find the giant perfect-for-carving pumpkin on a pumpkin patch hayride like when I was back home, but I can surely find A pumpkin somewhere in this country that I can slice and dice into a makeshift sort of jack-o-lantern. I may not be able to show everyone in Australia the amazingness that is a proper Halloween themed party, but I can surely convince some friends to dress up, eat good food, and enjoy some Halloween festivities. And I definitely won’t be sitting at home surrounded by my family for Thanksgiving (a holiday I have never missed), but I can surely round a few people together for a friendsgiving to share some delicious, homey, American dishes (who doesn’t love a good pumpkin or apple pie?).
There are many days here when I completely forget that I am in Australia because life here is just, well, life. But then there are those days when you realize the things you have always just accepted as givens, are no longer givens. The norms are not the norms. Your life becomes a constant state of adjusting to a new normal. And as with most things in life, you have two choices. You can choose to be bogged down by the differences and overwhelmed by the unknown, or you can take it as a challenge. Sure, my home country had holidays and traditions that have always and will always have a special meaning to me, but that doesn’t mean that what I have here will be any less. Every day, every month, every holiday, tradition and norm will be redefined and reshaped by my experiences here. I’m not losing something by being here and not home. I’m adding a whole new layer of depth to how I have always experienced my holidays and seasons.
The holidays away from home will be hard. I know they will be, even though I am months away from facing the reality. I hope when the time comes that I can keep my same big picture perspective that I am preaching now, but who knows. For now though, I’m choosing to look at it as an adventure. I won’t be bogged down by the differences. So go on and keep posting those August summer pictures my friends, because come December I will happily be sharing beautiful pictures of my Melbourne Winter Summerland.