Seasons

As the Memorial Day weekend approaches we can look forward to the long, slow, lazy days of summer again.  Living in the Mid-Atlantic region, it is so glorious to experience the clear demarcation of the changing seasons.  In Johannesburg the weather is so perfect that it becomes almost boring.  In the summer it is hot but dry and, almost like clockwork, there is a late afternoon thunderstorm that cools things off for the evening.  In winter, it can dip below freezing at night but during the day it can get up into the upper teens Celsius, which is in the 60s Fahrenheit.  In Durban, on the Indian Ocean, it is even warmer with a more tropical climate and people from the Highveld, where Johannesburg is situated, will often vacation on the South East Coast of South Africa during the winter, which, confusingly for Northern Hemispherers, is in July.  Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate with rainy winters and dry, hot, muggy summers, and one is more aware of Spring and Autumn than in other parts of the country.  But it is still not like the clear demarcation here.  Before I lived in the States it was curious to me how people would talk of their lives in terms of the seasons, as in, “During the summer of 2008 we went to Santa Fe” or “He will be going to college in the Fall”.  It was only once I had lived here for some time that it became clear to me how the passage of time is clearly marked by the passing seasons.  It’s lovely.  And then, as I alluded to early, there is the upside down nature of the seasons in the Northern versus the Southern hemispheres.  In the antipiodes, Christmas-time is the season of beaches and barbeques (“braaivleis”), and to cook up a full Christmas dinner in the middle of a hot, steamy day is a real labour of love.  In America all those Christmas card images of snow and cardinals and fires  finally make sense.  With the seasons being more of a continuous flow, slipping almost unnoticed from one to the next, there is also not a clearly defined arts season in Africa.  Whatever plays and concerts there are, just carry on pretty much throughout the year.  Here in the States, as we look forward to the summer months, the regular arts seasons take a break and, while there are specific seasons related to the summer, like Tanglewood, Wolf Trap or the Santa Fe Opera, is it on the whole much quieter.  Then, come the Fall, one is eager to pick things up again.  So, the cyclical nature of things is really rather wonderful and makes one appreciate the very distinct characteristic that each season offers.

 

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