Home' Aurora : Aurora June 2014 Contents 16
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
SEASONS OF GRACE
Winter often suffer s bad press, but
not in Aurora ! Enjoy Felicity Lee's
Unbeknownst to the Sun and the Moon,
humankind in all ages and places has been
using them to make ar tificial, arbitr ar y
decisions about time, feasts and seasons.
So it is that in the nor ther n hemisphere,
at about the latitudes of England, winter
star ts (officially anyway) on 22 December,
when the Sun enters Capricorn, what is
called the Winter Solstice. Here in the
souther n hemispher e, in Austr alia at least,
winter is said to star t in June (possibly 22
June which is roughly our Winter Solstice).
Winter weather (again at about the
latitudes of England) is said to be
"The saddest of the year
Of wailing winds, and naked woods,
And meadows brown and sere"
"The Death of the Flower s", Wm.
Cullen Bryant (1794 -- 1878).
Words and concepts we commonly
associate with nor ther n Europe's winter
include long night, snow, ice, frost,
hibernation, death and Christmas. Indeed,
for Austr alians of English and European
origin, Christmas is so inexorably linked
with the snow and dark of our ancestor s'
winters that we are inclined to be
slightly schizophrenic in our approach to
Christmas celebration. We blithely sing
carols with lines like "See amid the winter
snow" and "Wher e the snow lay round
about" and "on a cold winter's night that
was so deep" as we wipe the sweat of the
fierce summer heat and humidity from
our necks and faces.
Our commercially-oriented brethren have
hit on a way to exploit this dysfunction
and have introduced and encour aged
an event called 'Christmas in July'. It
is assumed that July approximates the
nor thern winter and will be cold enough
for us to be comfor table eating roast
meats, hot vegetables and dense puddings
while drinking mulled wine and hot
toddies. But is it?
What is winter in Austr alia -- and indeed
in many other countries in Asia, Africa and
the Pacific on either side of the equator?
Speaking for the Hunter Valley, winter is a
time of cool, crisp mornings; bright, blue
skies; war m sun, cool breezes; cold, dank,
early evenings and r ain at night. In shor t,
a time of per fectly beautiful, refreshing
weather after an unpredictable, but
usually unplea sant, summer.
Summer is a variable sea son and seems
to become more variable as the year s go
by. My childhood memories are of hot,
humid days followed by breathlessly hot
nights, drought and water restrictions
and a longing for a cool wind from the
south. Then there are the summer s of
bushfire. Even here in Newcastle we have
experienced being cut off from Sydney by
fire, the city ringed by fire and Newcastle
Beach searingly hot at nine o'clock
On the opposite end of the scale we have
also had those monsoonal summer s when
it r ained and it rained. Oh how it r ained !
For me, winter is a time of refreshment,
a time to cool down and catch one's
breath after the hectic activity of the
end of school and work for the year,
Christmas, New Year, star t of another
year's study and work, Lent and Ea ster.
In our latitudes, summer is a time to
aestivate and winter is when we wake
up and start to go out and about. This is
The team from St Clare's High School, Taree won the
Secondary Schools Public Speaking Competition for
the second year in a row. The team is pictured with
Director of Schools, Ray Collins , and CDF representative,
(l-r) Mar yanne Hacker, Brooke Robinson, James
Elliott, Michael Szmynec, Baden Ellis and Karina
Movigliatti par ticipated in a music ministr y workshop
with Steve Angrisano (centre) at East Maitland.
Photo cour tesy of Elroy Aguiar.
Fr Geoff Mulhear n (back), Andrew McGinlay, Daphne
Peterson, Uta France and John Fr ance attended the
annual Volunteer s Ma ss and Dinner, hosted by Bishop Bill.
NOW IS THE WINTER OF
when we Austr alians star t to travel to
those countries which sleep in winter and
wake in summer. It is also an oppor tunity
to visit those countries where summer
is likewise oppressive, even those par ts
of our own country which we avoid in
In our winter s the trees are still green,
the birds still sing, the flower s still
bloom and food can be grown. Outdoor
festivals and car nivals and festal occasions
such as weddings can be planned with
a fair degree of confidence that the
weather will hold. We can escape the
confinement of air conditioning and
move freely about our yards and our
neighbourhoods for most of the time.
The whole season is a blessing and a
delight, a time to re-assess, to catch up,
Life without winter is unimaginable to
me, yet I know there are parts of the
world where winter hardly occur s and
yet other par ts where winter is just a
more severe ver sion of summer. Though
I, like most immigr ant Austr alians, was
brought up on a Eurocentric notion of
four sea sons of the year, it is becoming
clear to me that such neat divisions
are not relevant in this climate or in
this age. Weather records are not long
enough for us to be able to judge what
is "nor mal" in weather patter ns. One
day, perhaps after either extreme global
warming or another ice age, the souther n
hemispher e may star t her winter on 22
December. Who knows? Meanwhile
I look for ward to enjoying this winter
time in the Hunter Valley and thanking
God for the wonderfully rich variety of
weather that blesses us.
BY FELICITY LEE
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