30th March - Seasons

It is now March. They tell me it is Autumn. However I don't think you could convince the southern Australian bush of this. In about a month the season will break. The rains will come. The year starts for the plants of the wirra.

Probably the plants already know when the rains will come. It fascinates me that the tiny midge orchid seems to flower just before the rain. Plants seem to have an infinite wisdom achieved through millions of years of evolution. However the importance of evolution will be covered in its own chapter.

Anyway the point is that soon the flowering season starts. Now the word “spring” actually means opening and refers to the flowers opening. So we are entering Spring, not Autumn. How can we expect to teach our children the wonders of nature if we cannot even get our seasons right. I guess our roots are from the northern hemisphere and that is really where we still are.

Maybe I should call the season that starts with the March equinox and ends somewhere round the shortest day of the year, “Wirraspring”. My spell-check doesn't like that idea at all.

What I am trying to say is that if we wish to understand the Australian bush then we need to start with an understanding of our seasons. They seem to go something like this:

We must start somewhere between the March equinox and the April rains. Some plants seem to respond to the equinox since they actually beat the April rains by flowering before they come. Other plants seem to wait for the April rains to trigger their growth period.

There are, of course, many other needs to be met to satisfy each individual plant. It needs water to grow. It needs warmth to grow. It needs to be pollinated somehow to continue the species. However there is no doubt in my mind that the Southern Australian spring occurs at a time we call Autumn.

The other seasons are not so easy. However the number of plants flowering gradually increases from April through to October with the period September to November the peak flowering time. This period then, September to November corresponds with the European summer. Perhaps we should call this period “Wirrasummer”.

It is about this time that the rains reduce greatly and the soils become hotter. By December the flowering intensity has stopped and we enter the hot, dry period of southern Australia. The period between Christmas and the March equinox is the period where least is happening in the wirra. I would like to call this season “Wirrawinter”.

What we really need is some new names for our wirra seasons. I think they should start and/or finish on the equinoxes and solstices. I could handle the present times. But I cannot manage to work with the names.