It’s officially autumn here in the southern hemisphere. The days continue to be sunny and warm in Auckland. The locals tell us that this is very unusual, that they haven’t had a summer at all for the past several years. I think it might just be the typical Kiwi humbleness showing through again. We were led to believe that the weather here was terrible, blustery and cold every day, sideways rain. Maybe that’s just our newbie ignorance showing through. The season is early.
Truth be told, we’re all sideways when it comes to the seasons and can’t tell which month it is, which season we’re in exactly without consulting the calendar on a daily basis. You take it for granted how innate it is in your own hemisphere. Back home, March means daffodils coming up, Easter chocolates, fresh green leaves on the trees, longer days and more sun. Here, March means back to school, autumn leaves, rain squalls, crisper mornings. It feels like Halloween, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas carols are right around the corner, but they surely aren’t.
Easter is coming up and I’m not sure (if I was the decorating kind anyway) if I should be scattering autumn leaves around the boat or Easter flowers. It just feels all wrong. But anyway, this will be our first winter in two years and we’re actually looking forward to turning on a heater again, donning our cozy fleeces and jeans. I’m not sure about the socks though, the “jandals” may have to stay all year.
One thing we do know is that this is the time of year that is buzzing with cruising excitement, wherever you happen to be on your boat. Over on the west coast of North America, boat crews are busy prepping and jumping off for the South Pacific. (It’s impossible for us to believe that it’s been exactly a year since we did the same!) In the Northwest, boats are getting ready for a summer shakedown then a boogie down the coast to Mexico in a few months. Even here in New Zealand it’s already time for the finishing touches of pricey refits to be completed and passages north, whether to Fiji, Tonga, or Tahiti to be charted out for April and May.
We can feel all this energy, even though we sit in a quiet marina, many of the Kiwi boats having been put away for the winter already in a winding-down season of furious sailing in the Hauraki Gulf. We want to be there too, in that crazy haze of stress-excitement-joy that is the weeks leading up to a big departure. I think we may have become addicted to that feeling, and then the one after where you are on your way to somewhere new and exciting aboard the little ship you lovingly prepared. Now, to be staying still for a while feels just like when you step onto an escalator that is out of order, when you expect your body to be carried upwards but instead there is just that lurching feeling and your legs feel heavy as they plod up the stairs.
We’ve been told that the long Easter weekend is the last hurrah for sailing, kind of like Labor Day weekend in the States. We’ve actually spent most of our weekends off the boat, or at least out and about exploring the city or the nearby beaches and forests. Looks like we might have to go out sailing too. Winter is on her way, so the calendar says.