Um … hello? Just wondering if the good folks at WordPress realise that it’s only spring in a small band of countries in the northern hemisphere?
Here in Sydney, Australia, we’re in the last month of Autumn, at least according to the European calender. If you were to go by the calendar of the traditional owners of the area that I live in, we’re in the time of marrai’gang, the quoll. Bana’murrai’yung is the time when it’s ‘wet, becoming cooler’ which is exactly what the weather is like today. It’s the time for mending your winter cloak in preparation for the colder months ahead, and gathering lilly pilly fruits. It’s also the time when quolls used to be heard calling for their mates in the bush. There are few quolls in Sydney now; they can’t compete with cats and dogs.
Australia is a vast continent, with many different ecosystems, so the seasons recognised by the traditional owners vary from place to place. Right now in Perth, Western Australia, it’s djeran: the time when the hot weather eases, banksias flower, and seed cones form on the casuarina trees.
I was in Perth last year towards the end of kambarang, the season of wildflowers. Similar to notions of spring in other cultures, kambarang, which overlaps with Australia’s official spring, is described as the season of birth. It’s also the time when you have to watch out for snakes! Here’s one of the spectacular flowering gums that I saw on my wander through the Perth Botanic Gardens.
The gumnuts are the size of a child’s fist.
But right now, in Sydney, in bana’murrai’yung / autumn, I’m seeing exotic flowers bloom in the gardens around my home.
Strelitzias, or bird of paradise plants, were apparently taken to England from South Africa by the same Joseph Banks who documented Australia’s flora and fauna — and people — on James Cook’s voyage of ‘discovery’ along the Australian coastline in 1770. (Coincidentally, Cook’s ship the Endeavour dropped anchor just downriver of where I now live, at around this time of year.) So now I have plenty of strelitzias in my neighbourhood, but probably no quolls. Fortunately, in spite of all colonial England’s efforts to the contrary, there are still Aboriginal people here.
And thinking of change brings me back to the seasons. Only yesterday I was watching a documentary about climate change (The Tipping Points) which interviewed Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory and Tiwi Islands. Elders spoke of changes in the seasons they’d observed: the wattles are flowering too early; the lilies, which are a food source, too late or not at all.
I know some of you northern hemisphere people have just had a particularly bitter winter. I don’t begrudge you your celebration of spring. Enjoy it while you may. Who knows what the future will bring, if the world keeps warming? Just don’t assume the whole world is in the same climate zone as you. Please.
This post was written in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring.