52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History -Week 14 -Spring


The topic posed by Amy Coffin and Geneabloggers for Week #14 is Spring.  What was spring like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc

My first thoughts on Spring are Mr Cassmob’s inevitable quote “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz I wonder where the birdies iz”…

Okay having got that out of my mind, what does Spring evoke for me? Well the answer is fairly simple, not a great deal because it’s just not a big deal in the sub-tropics or tropics where I’ve lived all my life. While it’s Spring right now in the northern hemisphere, Down Under it’s Autumn so kind of topsy turvy.

Spring in Australia falls in September-November and as these months are the end of the academic year for schools and universities, this is a busy time of the year as suddenly exams seemed all too real, whether from a student, teaching or administration perspective. (Note –our academic year matches the calendar year unlike the northern hemisphere). One feature that stands out particularly is that late Spring is when the jacaranda trees burst into flower in South-East Queensland with their magnificent purple umbrellas against the university’s sandstone buildings and a clear blue sky. When I was younger, all the year’s academic performance hinged on end-of-year exams so the jacarandas were also a timely, and scary, reminder that exams were very close. Then and now it’s also the frenetic lead-up to getting everything done for the end of the education calendar but also before Christmas and the long summer holidays hit.

Jacaranda flowers (scanned and a bit faded).

When I was a child there were only three school holiday periods a year: May, August and December-January so again Spring just didn’t get much of a look in.  However over the years we’ve moved to a semester and mid-semester holiday system. Early Spring, September, was a time our own family often went on holidays, sometimes a camping holiday as it’s a pleasant time of the year.

Spring in Darwin just doesn’t exist. These months coincide with the Build Up when the weather gets progressively more hot and humid until we all think we’ll melt and long for the monsoon rains to start! Indigenous people had more subtle variations on the seasons here with six distinct seasons – you can read more about them here. Pre-airconditioning the Build Up was known colloquially as Mango Madness time because people go somewhat crazy and in fact, there’s evidence to suggest it’s not an “urban” myth. Even in 2010/11 it’s not a great time to make important decisions as one’s patience is tried and perspectives on life are distorted. So good luck to all those who can enjoy imported or transported mangoes without the weather turning them slightly nuts! I guess I should say that mangoes were/are a food we ate in Spring but I don’t associate that from my youth although my grandparent had a huge Bowen mango tree in their back yard. They had planted it when my father was born so it has a lot of family history associations.

In the sense of Spring as a time of rejuvenation, I probably feel that in Darwin it is this transition time right now as the Dry Season comes round and we can look forward to several months with low humidity, pleasant days and nights and usually a guarantee of no rain for months. This year it’s teasing us and the Wet is just going on and on! However the dragonflies are now out in swarms, the traditional indication that the Dry is just around the corner, so let’s hope they’re right. Then it’s all blue skies, lots of concerts and events, weddings in the parks or by the water, the start of the Open Garden season and other great Top End fun. Bring it on!

Red dragonfly on a lotus flower in Bali

PS Murphy’s Law that I can’t find a photo I know I have of dragonflies in Kakadu so I’ll include a rather more exotic one I photographed in Bali a year or so ago.

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