There’s a chance to deepen our belonging to a place when we move around through the seasons in a circle, or a wheel. We learn our places, our moods and activities as related to the time of year and can map our own yearly cycles. When we are on a straight line, changes from one summer or winter to the next are perhaps not that noticeable, part of a changing scenery that we move through, not necessarily expecting repeats. But when we consciously travel around the seasons we are bound to notice – that the winter we just had was unseasonably mild, that the rains didn’t come when we needed and expected them, that the number of major weather events, worldwide, are increasing year by year.

I came back to the southern hemisphere in spring. I had known it would be spring, of course. On the calendar I knew it – but that’s quite a different thing than seeing it, feeling it, hearing it. 

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I had been through a whole summer in the northern hemisphere, ending up in France and noticing the much more dramatic swing of light as the days began to shorten towards autumn. It was still mostly sunny and warm, those lovely late summer days where warmth stretches out and I rarely needed a jumper and only a shawl or light jacket in the evenings. Australia was an assault, firstly on the eyes. It’s so bright here. So, so bright. For about three days I felt that I squinted at everything, flinching from the fierce brightness. Then, there were the wildflowers. If someone had asked me about spring in the Blue Mountains, certainly I would have mentioned the wildflowers, so it’s not that I’d forgotten them. But I had forgotten their profusion, their tiny bold blue, pink, white, yellow and purple petals shouting out of the bush, everywhere. I had forgotten their brightness and insistence and transforming beauty, how the olive greens of our bush is so shattered by them.

Somehow being at home, being returned to the place I should be most familiar with has managed to feel as if I’m still travelling, surprised at every turn and not quite in synch with what’s actually happening. I keep muttering it to myself, spring, summer – but inside, part of me is longing for autumn, expecting autumn and displaced here, into its opposite. Spring has turned out to be not just a time, but a location, the location I supposedly live in.

And spring is so dramatic, here. On the day I arrived back it seemed blazingly hot, with a high of 22 degrees (in Fahrenheit 71) – the next day there was a high of 5 degrees (41 Fahrenheit). Oh, spring in the mountains, I had forgotten. Take your coat one day, sunhat the next. My body didn’t know what it should be acclimatising to – is it hot? Cold? Do we need the heater on? What’s happening? The weather continued to swing around for a month or so, settling only now towards a summer inclination.

It’s windy, too. I think it always is at this time of the year, but I’d forgotten. The trees make quite loud breath-like, rustling undulations and there’s a low-level background roar of wind through the gullies, that fades in and out. Then there’s the cicadas. Some years are just cicada years – this is one of them. Their piercing, thrumming chorus – coming from thousands at once – continues on as a background to most other things. Apparently they haven’t emerged from their several-year hibernation in the ground in such numbers here in the last ten years.

 In the Circle of Eight we treat the seasons, Festivals and magical bonds with the land around as places that we travel to. Right now I am holding the West in our Circle of Eight – the contemplative, autumnal place on the wheel, perhaps adding to my general sense of dislocation. But I think this concept of the seasons being places that we arrive at, experience and depart from is part of this model of working with time as a wheel, a circle or a spiral, instead of the infinite line stretching from the past (behind us) towards the future (in front of us) that is the more usually accepted model of time in our culture.

 

So I’ve arrived at this bright, windy, noisy place with wild weather and I’m still in shock, really. I was away for four months, and I’m realising that was enough time to reset my feeling of where I belonged, to lose the grip of what’s happening in this locality. Part of my head is still with that mellow colding time of Europe, I keep being caught out by unexpected things. The fruit that’s available – I was looking for pears and grapefruit and couldn’t understand why there were peaches and had to work out, yet again, that it was the middle of spring. Daylight savings came through, I was expecting it to be darker in the mornings but instead it was lighter. Spring is turning out to be a disruptive location for me, but then, that’s very spring-like.