Today is the first day of spring. And in Sydney, spring is my favourite time of the year.
Dark mornings of drizzle give way to pink and orange sunrises, and the midday sky turns a vibrant blue. The air smells fresh, like grandma’s house when she throws open the windows and gives it a good airing. And in spring, I forget about all those winter afternoons I arrived home after dark to a cold house.
I fell in love with Sydney in spring. I had come here for the Olympics. I was a volunteer, so spent several weeks dressed in daggy chinos and a hideous, over-sized polo shirt with bright yellow sleeves. Nevertheless, it was easy to forget how ridiculous I looked in my white straw hat and bright blue bum bag, because the city of Sydney put on a bloody good show.
Each day was perfect. 28 (82) degrees, a light breeze and the aforementioned blue skies. Every day! It was as though the organisers had placed their order for optimum weather, and nature had delivered.
I was utterly seduced by Sydney in the spring of 2000.
I flew back to Perth post-Olympics and announced to anyone who cared (and some who didn’t) that I was moving to Sydney. Three months later, I lived here. I arrived on the 30th of December, because I liked the symbolism of seeing in the new year in my new city.
But here in my new city, in the middle of summer, reality bit – hard! Gone were the blue skies, and the gentle breezes. Gone were days of 28 perfect degrees, and in their place were the brooding, heavy skies of the Sydney summer. I had been duped.
You see in my hometown, Perth, summers are my favourite time of the year. The days are hot, yes, but the skies are clear, and the heat is dry. I love summer in Perth, but when I tasted spring in Sydney, and expected more of the same only hotter, I was being naive.
No, the summers in Sydney are grey-skied and humid. Sticky, hot days are threatened by low-hanging thunder clouds. And just when the air gets so dense you can feel it pushing down on you, it pours: fat, hot drops of angry rain that make the streets steam and the air smell like grease.
And indulge me for a moment while I mention my hair. A Sydney summer is the natural enemy of naturally curly hair. Mine grows so big in a Sydney summer, it needs its own postcode. Honestly, if I had wanted to live in the tropics, I would have moved to Queensland.
So, how do I cope with this abomination of summer?
Ever since that first summer, I have actively avoided being in Sydney from late December to the start of February, which is fortuitous, because that is when school breaks for summer holidays. I cannot really see my principal being sympathetic to tales of woe about my afro. “But I simply cannot stay. You see, it is summer, and I cannot deal with that many bad hair days in a row.”
Summer is no fun when you look like Donna Summer.
I have spent many of those summers back in Perth. Ahhh, Perth. Perth is where summer was born, raised, and will never die. The beaches are powdery white, and the surfers deeply tanned. The air is briny, and the sky is so brilliantly blue, it is almost iridescent.
So, why has a girl so in love with summer agreed to live in Seattle? Isn’t Seattle the home of, well, rain? And isn’t rain the opposite of summer? Ah, yes, these are all valid questions. But you see, Seattle hides a secret. I does not actually rain there nine months of the year as often reported. It is more like eight months, but those other four…sigh…are beautiful.
So, when I move there in late December (that whole ‘new year – new city’ thing), I will take my umbrellas (plural, ’cause you never know when one will be sucked into traffic by a gust of wind), and I will look forward to the Seattle summer of ’09. I am promised blue skies, gentle breezes, and about 28 degrees. Sound familiar?