Summertime, My Old Friend
Summer. For Australians it summons sunkissed feelings and memories. Of getting together with friends and family. Of the promised season in childhood, where school is over and time is endless and free. Of hot Christmases and barbeques and outdoor living. Of days on end, swimming at the beach. Of the crack and grumble of evening storms. Of sunburn. Tropical fruit. Seafood. Icy Poles. Of fishing and learning to surf and sand in the carpet at home. Of scorching hot days inside, fan’s spinning, watching marathons of sport on TV. Of that spot down at the river, cruising along beneath gum trees on a lilo, the sun dancing through the canopy. Of finally getting enough time off work to tend the garden; the cool shower from a sprinkler and a cold beer being the perfect end to the day.
Yes, summer is dreamy. And it is a time that Australians revel in. However, as we know, nature here is fierce and fluctuates. Some of these changes we have come to predict, while at other times the shifts that happen feel completely overwhelming and can, of course, be life threatening. This life is yin and yang; contradictory; where there is beauty there is often darkness. And here, down under, nature is extreme.
Summer brings fires that have swept the country in the most devastating ways, and Victorians know this only too well. This year, an El Nino is predicted at roughly 70% the normal risk it poses to Australia over this summer period. This weather pattern refers to the cycle of warm and cold temperatures, as measured by sea surface temperature of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean. It is accompanied by high air pressure the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific. In Australia, El Nino events mean that the shift in rainfall away from the Western Pacific reduce rainfall across Australia. In turn, warmer than average temperatures can be recorded as weather systems are more mobile and fewer blocking areas of high pressure occur.
With conditions like this, summer becomes a time to really reflect on where we live and how much nature impacts our everyday lives. Australia is an ancient country, known intimately by Aboriginal peoples. It is large and diverse and governed by shifts in temperature and geography. For this reason, it is no wonder that so many of our dreams and memories are shaped by how warm it was, what the water felt like, when it rained, dry seasons, fires, cool relief. This is the romance wrapped into our favorite songs, books and paintings. This contemplating has me thinking about how we, humans, are so bound to the natural world.
So as summer sets in, relish in all its beauty. Slip, slop, slap. Swim out so deep you can’t touch the sand. Spend long afternoons beneath the boughs of the gums, and even longer nights talking and laughing and dreaming up all of the potentials of the new year. Look after your gardens, keep your plants alive, and put out water for the birds and the bees. Let’s appreciate what this heat brings, and look after each other through its extremes