In Canada, where I grew up, the shift between seasons was slow with subtly changing colours. I always associated red and green with Christmas: the middle of winter, against a backdrop of frozen white.
Australia, on the other hand, is the opposite. Reds come out in spring and summer; a white backdrop is more likely to be ocean waves, clouds, white sands or the white-light of a searing-hot day; and even in the tropics, greens are liberally mixed with olives, muted greys and blues.
The dry land and long coastline exposes the continent to severe storms, regular floods and annual bush fires. It is not uncommon for part of the country to be experiencing drought while another region is under rising waters. This year alone, Queensland, in north-eastern Australia, suffered widespread disastrous floods causing deaths and enormous fiscal losses, followed only a month later by a category 5 tropical cyclone, possibly the worst the country has ever seen.
Closer to the equator than most of North America, and surrounded by larger bodies of water, even without inclement weather the country experiences abrupt seasonal changes. One of the things I missed most when I first moved to Australia was the transitional seasons: spring and autumn. In most of the country, the onset of cooler weather is accompanied by rain rather than frost, so leaves are more likely to turn a muddy brown than red and orange before they fall. After the cool of winter, spring growth explodes into an almost instant summer of opulent foliage.
The weather last week in Coolum, Australia, near the coast and just outside the Tropic of Capricorn, was unseasonably cold and wet. But what I noticed most was the prevalence of reds: dashes of red everywhere against the paperbarks, banksia, bottle brush and eucalypts. Definitely not a North American spring!
It might be spring – but it felt a bit like Christmas.
Of course, at the rate this year is going, that will be here soon enough!
Happy travels, what ever season you are in.