Sunday, April 23, 2006

Take the Weather With You

How does the weather affect you, if at all? Stephen R Covey reckons that ineffective people are affected by the weather, and that effective people carry their own weather with them and are, presumably, always sunny. I think that Covey is right about many things – and I do think that anyone who assumes that The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is just another nonsense self-help book for ambitious MBA’s should really have a proper look at it. But I’m not sure that I’m with him on the weather. Oh, well maybe he just hasn’t lived in Townsville, or worked on a building site where a few drizzly days in a row (OK, it’s getting to be a couple of drizzly weeks in a row now) lead to thousands and thousands in lost moolah for the company and a rising instance of porta-cabin fever.

You might be thinking that I did enough complaining about the weather over the last couple of months. And you would be right. But may I just say here in one breath that I’m soooo envious of everyone else’s weather in temperate zone, that I’m nearly sick of hearing about it except that I want to hear so much more: my sister finding ripe figs in her overgrown garden in Canberra; Hayden’s mum planting out bulbs in her garden in NZ, Claire and Ed’s spring BBQ in London. In Melbourne, autumn is easily the most beautiful season, with the days still long but cooler and all the leaves of those thousands of avenue trees fluttering slowly to the ground. When I worked at the Melbourne Business School, I turned up late every day of April and May due to dawdling on my morning walk through Carlton Gardens (the rest of the year I turned up late as well, but due to other reasons). I am so jealous of all that is happening in the temperate world, and in addition am missing the extremes of summer in Townsville. I know, after all those complaints! But in summer here, keeping cool was something to do. The mild weather we’ve got now is just boring.

For any new listeners, the thing about Townsville summer is not how hot it gets. It really only gets to be quite warm here, by the rest of Australia’s standards. Elsewhere in Australia, the midday heat reaches skin-boiling point, then in the evening a lovely cool breeze wafts off the water and allows you to sleep. In Townsville, the temperature doesn’t get that high, but it simply doesn’t cool down, ever, over the five months of summer. It’s five months of non-stop warmth.

Come the start of April, the big thing for us was to monitor how cool it had got overnight, on our fancy Christmas present alarm clock-thermometer (my mum and Hayden sharing a fascination with statistics, that present was a foregone conclusion. Mummy, you pretended that it was easy to give that present away, but we could tell it wasn’t). And while I did enjoy a few fresh mornings sitting on the balcony and reading until 9:00am (back in unemployment days, obviously), the novelty has since worn off. It has been cooler, yes, but it has also been drizzly with rain, and limp and humid. The foliage is looking greenish, I suppose, and that is better than the fried look of the dried brown grass and rock in summer, but I’m missing the soft yellow-to-warm brown range of deciduous leaves, not to mention the beautiful blossoms of spring. It is excruciatingly sweet to see pictures like this.

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