So it’s the first day of spring
but wattles has been out a couple for weeks, a Rose Robin and plenty of Scarlet Honeyeaters are in the woods, a couple of Bloodwoods flowering, a young goanna scrambling up a tree.
We know the four seasons of winter, spring, summer and autumn make little sense here on the Mid North Coast and even less further north.
Gary Williams who teaches at Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Centre has told me there are two Gumbaynggirr seasons – “galaagarr – warm weather and maguurr – cold weather. There are times during the year when other things happen, that have no specific names, that denote change but these two words are the main ones.”
Indigenous seasons refer to seasonal events:
“We are now in the middle of bana’murrai’yung
when the tiger quoll seeks a mate and we haul down the doona.”
From a poem of mine from Sydney):
Dr Tim Entwisle, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (formerly Sydney) was on ABC radio’s Ockham’s Radio, ‘Sprinter and Sprummer A call for more seasons for Australia’. He said, “Our Indigenous communities have watched the world around them over tens of thousands of years, and have two to seven seasons to suit their local area. I can find only one example of Aboriginal Australians using four seasons: six is the most common number.”
His suggestion is:
My seasonal year starts with sprinter (August and September), the early Australian spring. That’s when the bushland and our gardens burst into flower. That’s also when that quintessential Australian plant, the wattle, is in peak flowering across Australia.
Next is sprummer (October and November), the changeable season, bringing a second wave of flowering.
Summer (December to March) should be four months long, extending beyond February, when there are still plenty of fine warm days.
Autumn (April and May) barely registers in Sydney but further south we get good autumn colour on mostly exotic trees, as well as peak fungal fruiting.
Winter (June and July) is a short burst of cold weather and a time when the plant world is preparing for the sprinter ahead.
We need to be sensitive to the seasons, and all the natural events surrounding us.