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the seasons down under

I've been thinking how arbitrary the traditional seasons are. It's neat, and we're used to dividing the year into four even parts of three months each. The seasons come from the solstices and the movement of the earth round the sun, but these four seasons don't necessarily correspond to what is happening on earth in any given place.

The Australian Aborigines have five or six seasons, the details of which vary according to their geographic location. As traditional hunter gatherers, their understanding of seasonal changes in the environment were vital to their survival. For example, they needed to know when berries ripen, when eels are around, and when they had to move to another place because of heat or cold. Their depiction of the seasons reflected their lived experience.

Tim Entwhistle, Director of the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, argues for a new schema for the seasons for Australia. He sees the traditional 4 seasons as a carryover from Australia's colonial p…

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