Monday Postcard #147 – Why the End of Summer Is not that Bad After All
Austrians love to complain and if you need some intercultural advice: discuss the weather with them, they will love it. It is always “too hot”, “too rainy”, “too dry”, “too cold”.
The hot topic over the past weeks has been that this “was no real summer”. While the past years broke heat records and were “way too hot”, this year was cooler. I think it was a normal Austrian summer like it used to be when I was a child. I enjoyed it. There were pleasant warmer days (some actually quite hot) and the next day it was raining.
In Bangkok there is only one season: it is always hot. Actually, there is something like “seasons” just not in the sense we know them. There is the hot season (hot and humid), then there is the monsoon season (hot and even more humid) and then there are a few weeks in December and January which Thais call “winter” or “cold season”: 26 degrees and no rain. This is the time when locals wear jumpers or jackets. For Austrians, this is definitely not winter. Similar to the seasons, the time of sunrise and sunset is pretty much the same all year – at around 6 am and around 6-6.30 pm. There are no long bright summer nights but there are also no short winter days.
This morning, I wore long trousers and a thin jacket for my walk for the first time in weeks. The air was crisp. You could smell that it rained over the weekend. Last week, there was mist above the hills. It has definitely become cooler. The days have become shorter too. I wake up at around 6 am and today it was much darker already.
Last week, I got a message from a friend saying that the last week of August is for summer what Sunday is for the week. They added that they cannot stand the colder time of the year. I get that it is harder to wake up in the mornings when it is still dark and we sometimes feel less active if the sun sets at 5 pm. I used to complain about winter too. But since I left, I have a different attitude.
It is the sign of another time of the year. It almost feels like a new beginning. I have to admit, even though I enjoy the beginning of autumn, this year, I have mixed feelings about it. It also is a sad reminder about the current situation we are in. I hoped by summer, I would be able to go back to Thailand. Or that my partner can come to Austria. We are entering the cold season and there are still no signs of any changes. The end of summer showed me how time flies.
Nevertheless, I am trying to see the positive. I have not been back to Austria in autumn for a few years. I want to make the most of it and I look forward to the time when the leaves change their colour, when the air smells of wet leaves and when you can feel that nature is just about to retire for the year. In Austria, this is still an active time with a lot of day trips and hikes, as it is not as hot anymore. It is also the time when you curl up with a book and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while it is foggy and gloomy outside. (In my experience, hot chocolate tastes best when it is miserable outside.)
Sometimes we need to not be able to do certain things to appreciate them. When I grew up, I hated winter. I am always cold and, unlike many other Austrians, I do not enjoy winter sports. I was counting the days until spring. But now I find it sad and also silly to have this kind of attitude for half of the year. It is indeed the end of summer – the time when people are happier because the sun is shining. (Or in the Austrian case, a bit less grumpy than usual. 😉 ) But linking our mood to the weather for such a long period of time only is a bit too much for me.
When Austrians now complain about the seasons, I tell them to move to the tropics. I did not believe it at first, but when the sun shines every day and it is summer constantly, you will not appreciate it as much either. You will look forward to the cold and sometimes even miserable days. This year, I do and I am already getting ready for all the hot chocolate.
Have a nice late summer/beginning of autumn week ahead!