To people who ask, there are many and interchangeable reasons I give for wanting to move to Ireland. I’m a conscientious refugee of the Howard regime. I wanted to go somewhere old and cold. I don’t like hot countries very much, I wanted something different. I wanted a European base of operation. But most succinctly, my pet reason for leaving Australia is to experience seasons again. There is something about European seasons, something much more powerful in subtlety here than the mere alternation of Hot and Less Hot in Australia. The differences from one to the next are pronounced and profound; that winter has its own particularity. And when the Oirish look at me like I’m daft, I have to explain that this in itself is good to experience again.
The differences in daylight alone are significant. From going to work at 7 in pitch winter darkness to facing a glaring, advanced sun in the springtime walk to the station. The afternoons seem to stretch forever — daylight saving makes legitimate sense in Europe. Spring’s light contextualises winter’s drab. Summer is the prize of darkness. Whereas down on the other side of the globe, winter is summer’s brief relief.
Another subtle difference is that you experience annual time naturally rather than by man-made reckonings like Christmas, birthdays etc. Each season has its tenor and tone, its subjective signature.
Mornings are currently a revelation of birdsong; afternoons a fantasy of flowering aroma and gentle warmth. There’s a growing spirit of liveliness. On the walk to Blackrock station alone I count 28 different flowering plants. It’s skating perilously close to cliché to say so, but there’s a feeling in the air which is very similar to the feeling of being in love. Things grow, become, blossom. Aroma and warmth seem to hangdrift in the air.