The traditional split of seasons into four blocks of three months has been one that never seems to fit a calendar exactly. When growing up in the countryside in Ireland, the understanding was that the seasons might not have always matched up to ‘conventional’ wisdom. Spring starts in February, usually when the first daffodils appear and cuckoos can be heard for the first time. The season of growth continues on through until about mid-May. Summer then (theoretically at least) appears from about the end of May, through June, July and August. By the end of August, there is a slight chill in the air and the colours begin to change, showing autumn oncoming. Depending on how wet or cold November is, autumn can last through to the middle of the month. Winter is then the ‘shortest’ season, usually lasting a maximum from mid-November to the end of January. There can also be a degree of flexibility from year to year as the weather patterns allow it, but in general when the months of best weather are between 10 and 20 degrees in temperature, and the worst between 0 and 10, then the flexibility in the months is understandable.
A noticeable difference after moving to Poland was the much more distinct difference in the seasons – although it did take a while to realise that the natural flow meant six seasons in the year, as best summarised by Sylwia in Warsaw. Especially when compared to the temperate weather of the British Isles, it was much easier to appreciate a properly hot day (30°C + temperatures), or feel the bite of a real winters day (-10°C or less). However, recent adventures in ordinary life have made me wonder if even Poland’s weather is on a rollercoaster ride, swinging wildly up and down. It began in mid-March, when we were in the middle of Przedwiośnie (pre-spring). We had a couple of fine days where the temperature gauge was about 20°C. However, over the Easter weekend the temperatures dropped suddenly, so much so that snow fell (in southern parts of Poland, at least).
As the long Majówka week(end) approached, it meant the weather swung in the other direction, with there being a few days of real summer sun and 30 degree days. Many people who had the week off work were thanking their lucky stars for such fortune. And then to sum it up, as the majority returned to work after the long week(end), today (Monday May 7th) brought clouds, rain and temperatures barely scraping above 10°C.
As a race, humans tend to be fairly resilient and can adapt well to different climates, temperatures and seasons without (too) much complaint. However, a few images, smells and other sensations made me realise that nature must be on one hell of a rollercoaster recently. This was summed up on a short walk around my apartment block. The bushes and grass was already getting somewhat out of hand, having had a huge growth spurt. The main green areas near the buildings had huge numbers of dandelions which had popped up. However, the 30°C temperature seemed to have ‘fooled’ the dandelions into fast forward, as most of the yellow flowers had disappeared, replaced by the silver-grey heads when the dandelions wish to spread their seed and repopulate. There were also some pine trees where the old and withered brown pine needles of last winter had not fully fallen and dropped yet, but the young green shoots were pushing on to get as much sun as possible. It all made things feel like nature felt it needed to move quickly in order to make the most of ‘summer’ which it was not prepared for. It reminded me of the time when I once travelled from Calcutta in India to Kraków, via London within about 15 hours and went from plus 26°C (India) to plus 2°C (UK) to minus 12°C (Poland). I got the flu very quickly afterwards as my body could not cope with such wild swings. The recent swings in temperature made me wonder how ‘sick’ is the planet, if there does not seem to be fluid transitions through the seasons any more, but rather wild variations from one week (or month) to the next? Not everyone is willing to agree with global warming/climate change, but it would appear that the signs seem to be growing of the instability in weather making predictions of upcoming weather much more difficult.