Posted by: Janet | November 30, 2007

Seasons, Perceptions, and Expectations

A while ago Susan wrote a blog  about how in some ways she felt disoriented as an Irish person living in the Northwest corner of the U.S.  A particular disorientation occurred as a result of the words applied to the seasons.  Summer in Ireland has a certain meaning – summer in New England, and possibly Seattle where Susan lives,  is a different kettle of fish.

I grew up in New England.  Summer to me means July-August.  The summer season runs from the Fourth of July to Labour Day, the first Monday in September.  Warm-hot weather, swimming in the ocean.  Autumn or Fall months are September-October-November.  Winter is the skiing season – December-March.  Spring skiing would be in early April.  And for me the Spring months are April-May.  June is rather undefined.  Possibly I define my seasons according to the sports we played – field hockey in the fall/autumn, skiing and skating in the winter, tennis in the spring/summer.

In Irish class this week we learned the words for the seasons.  The corresponding months are the following: the Spring months are February March and April.  Summer months are May June and July.  Autumn months are August September October.  And Winter = November December January.   Rather different from my New England experience and expectations.

When I first came to Ireland my most vivid memory is of the cold damp weather starting in early September.  My summer months of July and August were reasonably good but from September on, I do not remember pleasant weather until the following April.  April and May as I remember them in the early 1970’s were lovely.

In the intervening years I lived in countries nearer to the equator and the seasons were quite different.  In fact, I really couldn’t figure out what the seasons were.  In St. Lucia, for example, every day was beautiful and the temperature variation was almost imperceptible.  In two years, I think I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I wore a jumper/sweater and that would have been at night in December or January.

I think the definition applied to the words we use for the seasons is determined by our geographical location.  And now global warming is turning our weather topsy turvy and we don’t know what to expect or what to think is normal or abnormal for the time of year.

But all I can say in conclusion is that this year, here in Ireland, we have had a most benign autumn, the foliage has been lovely and there is still a lot of soft colour out there – and some of the sunrises have been glorious.  

sunrise-late-november-resized.jpgthis photo is a pale imitation of the beauty of the sunrise yesterday morning.

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