Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Opposite Days

Will has mastered the concepts of "up" and "down" in the past few weeks.  He loves repeating those words while he points in the corresponding direction.  Even during the drive home from his daycare he helpfully narrates every segment of our journey as we go up and down the hills.  

I am looking forward to the day when he can remind me of the seasons as well.  What I thought would be the most obvious and easiest part of living south of the equator has turned out to be one of the most challenging.  After decades of learning what to expect during October, January, or July, my brain seems unable to comprehend that everything has changed.  I didn't really enjoy the summer months the way I might normally do (it didn't help that the Christmas and New Year holidays interrupted things), but now, just when I am finally feeling ready for summer, it's getting cold in Australia.  Sure, there isn't any snow, and I will probably never wear gloves and a scarf in Queensland, but it just doesn't feel right turning on the heat and putting on a sweater in late May!  What's more, my friends and family in the U.S. keep mentioning their warmer days and the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, which I have long associated with the beginning of summer.

It appears that even long-standing transplants from the northern hemisphere never really master the opposite seasons.  I have noticed one American, for example, who has lived here over ten years but still refers to the upcoming "summer break" between semesters at UQ next month.  Another expat mentioned a "fall" conference that will occur in October.  The other day an Australian asked me, "when did you move here?" and I quickly answered, "last summer," which either shortens our stay or lengthens it by six months, depending how he interpreted "last."  To avoid such errors, I have been trying to rely more on using the months instead of the seasons in my conversations, but that feels quite awkward (e.g., "I am looking forward to getting a lot of work done next December-January-February").

Because Will will learn the opposite associations with the calendar, maybe he'll be able to help his father with this problem someday.  Of course, this might also create another source of confusion in the parent-child dynamic.  Perhaps then we'll just have to move to the equator.

5 comments:

Mooselet said...

After 6 years, I still find myself having to think about seasons, especially when dealing with family back in the States.

Don't think you'll never wear a scarf or gloves. While you may never wear a big bulky jacket again, you may find yourself wrapping a scarf around your neck when you have to go out at night and then think "When did I turn into such a wuss?" as your family back Stateside laughs at you.

Kwirkie said...

The primative brain is a funny thing. I am having the same problem as you. Plus getting a flu shot in March was just weird. I have also noticed more now how shadows look "differant" here. The angle is just differant. I guess I will always feel a bit upside down. But as you said, our kids will think we are just odd.

The Prof said...

Yes, I am sure that having a scarf helps you, Mooselet, with that severe wind chill that hits Brisbane nearly every night in June and July!!

The light angles are different, kwirkie. Having the sun set low in the NW sky is so disorienting to me...

Lucky for me, I will be getting a taste of summer in a couple of weeks!!

Danielle said...

It's been 2.5 years for me, and I still think of summer as being unseasonably cold here and winter being the opposite. My blood has officially thinned as well, because I've been wearing my scarf all week. I'm also contemplating finding my gloves right now, as our Queenslander hasn't warmed up for the day yet! :)

Tors said...

"Perhaps then we'll just have to move to the equator."

Now THERE'S an idea! As you know, even 12-degrees south we don't have much in the way of typical seasons. But on the downside, it's just so boring. What's the temp today? 33. What will it be tomorrow? 33. And in six months? 33. Every day, all year long.

Brisbane is about the same distance from the equator as my hometown in Texas. How nice it would be, to actually feel COLD again at some point during the year! You're very lucky. :-)

I know what you mean about having to rethink how you measure time. Except nowadays it's in reverse: my mother says something about "this summer" and for a split-second I have to think about whether she's talking about now or later... hmmmm....