Autumn in Melbourne

Today is the first day of May — the start of the third month of Autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere. In Melbourne, Autumn is a time of highly varying weather, between sun-filled, balmy days, and cold, miserable days filled with wind and rain, but as May comes, so too come more cold days, as the last remnants of summer are blown away in gusts of damp, freezing winter air. The days flee more rapidly in Autumn, too, with daylight saving ensuring the loss of a whole hour of sunlight in the evenings (to be given to the morning). Gone are the evenings of light and warmth, to be replaced by swift nights, only to be retreated from to hide.

Thinking back, the speed in which this change comes about seems exceedingly rapid, for only a couple of months ago Melbourne was in the throes of summer, and one hotter than most other on record. Very slowly did it seem that the days got shorter, and the air cooler, and we even hoped for a quicker decent into winter, sweltering as we were in the unbearable heat. But now all that is gone, a distant memory to be thought of even fondly – how strange our minds work indeed. Now as we travel under the golden leaves and dark skies of autumn all we can wonder of is when the weather may be warm again.

In many ways, though, it should not be surprising to think that it is already almost winter, for in truth many things have happened to mark the time passed, to testify to the gradual darkening of the days. In Melbourne, the standard yearly routine continues – our trains run better (as they tend to die in the heat), and the fruit in the shops changes from pineapples and mangoes to apples and plums. So too can the changes in season be seen in the very people of Melbourne – in summer so lively and wont to stand around and talk, but now we wear dark clothes and walk quickly to our destinations, our heads down against the chill and the rain. Overall we are somewhat more subdued, as we wait for the coming of Spring (long though it is yet to come).

Indeed, before Spring arrives, must come winter, and with it times even colder than Autumn. In winter the days are short, but also often overcast, such that the little light we would get is even more muted. Cold, too, is the air, and even the wind from the desert, otherwise a breath of warmth in an otherwise cool day, does little to raise the temperature. Dark days lie ahead of us, where we can no longer look to the weather to provide warmth and must huddle away from it in our homes, and during our daily travels. But though the weather may be no comfort, still friendship is to be found in the people around us, as we stay warm together — until the summer comes again.

At which point we’ll start complaining about how hot it is every day.