I grew up north of the equator and have since lived south of it and on it. I found living north and south of the equator to have more similarities than differences seasonally. The winters were chilled and the summers hot. Autumn and Spring a gentle mixture of both. And honestly, my favourite two seasons. At times the air was humid, leaving wet kisses of sweat on my cheeks, at other times the cold nipped at my nose. Every season was special, unique, and appreciated. I did not think I would miss the icy winters and the steamy summers. When I lived in Indonesia, I learned how important the changing seasons was to me. To live near the equator was to lose the seasonal rhythm of my life. It was something I didn’t realize I relied on until it was gone.
We used to joke there was the rainy season or the rainy season when I lived on Borneo Island, the Indonesian side. The temperature above 30 degrees celsius during the day with a humidity higher than 90%. The evenings were ideal, with a low around 25. The perfect time to go for a walk to a friend’s house. To see the twinkling stars or appreciate the sheet lightening dancing in the storms. The nights were my favourites. The days I forced myself out of bed and explored my world by foot or bike. I lived in a place of beauty and scars of a turbulent history. But it was the never-ending heat that made the years hard.
I missed the changing of the seasons. It was more difficult to get through the truly sweltering days without knowing to embrace them because all too soon they would be gone. I would soon be complaining about the freezing days, where my car was wrapped in ice and wish for a hot day under the sun. On Borneo it was always hot and at night softened to toasty. Cool was a dream. Snow and frost were fantasies I showed my students in pictures. Refrigeration was not a need in Indonesia. Most food was bought and prepared daily. Fridges cost money and needed electricity, both of which many people didn’t have. Everything was fresh or dried for later. Our house was equipped with a fridge but even I knew better than to hold the door open and spend a moment in the cool air. By the time the door was open, the cool air was gone. The fridge was the same temperature as the house.
So when I left Indonesia, I embraced the seasons again. And did for years until, almost a decade later, I had been away from the winters of the Canadian Prairies and seduced by the European temperate winter. Visiting Canada in March ended up longer than intended as the borders closed and we decided to sit tight and see how everything worked out. As we all know, it still hasn’t worked out. So we headed back home for the winter holidays. We had been separated as a family since April, my husband had to to back to work, and we decided to end the year together. So once again, I am away from Canada and its cold winter air. But I appreciate it and remember how important it is to me. To recognize the passage of time.
Below are some quotes that remind me why winter is important to me and to others. Enjoy.