You Can Take the Girl Out of the Four Season Climate But…

By Amy

I think you know how the rest of that goes right?

Indonesians love to ask us about the seasons in the United States. How many seasons do you have? Four. We have two here–rainy and dry! I’m aware. What are your seasons like? It is cold in America now, yes? Yes it is cool right now.

What it is hard to convey in our limited bahasa Indonesia skills and their limited interest in the topic is that seasons are about SO MUCH MORE than the temperature. In fact, I think we carried the seasons with us to Indonesia.

When we first got here a year ago, it was spring back home. We got to experience spring before we left, so it just felt like summer came early and lasted a long time. But then September and October rolled around. It was still 90+ degrees outside, but what was this I was craving? Chili and pumpkin pie? So I made chili and pumpkin pie–sweating the whole time. I longingly looked at pictures of friends on Facebook tailgating at football games and wearing cute jackets and leather boots and looking so…dry.

As soon as Thanksgiving was over I wanted nothing more than to watch Love Actually and any other Christmas movie I could get my hands on. I fantasized about making cookies and Christmas decorations. We drank hot chocolate. Without any input from my surroundings whatsoever (pretty sure Santa has never been to Jombang) I had a constant playlist of holiday tunes playing in my head while riding my bike, while bathing, and while sitting in the teachers lounge between classes. Christmas grew inside of me and turned into a minor obsession unlike ever before. Will grew a beard without any real explanation. The day of the Superbowl I crafted a buffalo sauce of sorts to eat on our fried tempe.

As March rolled around I started fantasizing again about carrot cake and listening to Jesus Christ Superstar (an Easter tradition in my family).  I gave the neighborhood chickens a knowing look as they led their baby chicks down the road (as they do every month of the year). I found myself wanting to shop for new, colorful clothes when we were in the city. Will shaved his beard realizing that his internal winter was over and it was now time for spring.

In addition, I never realized how much I use the seasons to judge the lapse of time. If someone asks me when a certain event in my service occurred, if it happened after we came to permanent site I couldn’t tell you. I rely on memories of what I was wearing, what the weather was like or other seasonal clues to remind me when something happened. Here, nothing ever changes. And it makes our time here fly by. What do you mean it’s April? Wasn’t it just January!? Everything is the same!

So now with springtime in our souls and heat of Indonesia on our brains, we will board a flight to Australia this weekend where it will actually be fall. We’ll do our best to figure out when and where we are…or maybe we’ll just enjoy it.

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4 thoughts on “You Can Take the Girl Out of the Four Season Climate But…

  1. Your point about the seasons marking time is well taken. We actually use seasons to spark memory in our clients and witnesses. When someone can’t remember when an important event in one of my cases took place, I’ll say, “do you remember what you were wearing” or “was it cold outside?” It doesn’t always work, but it works often enough to be a worthwhile exercise. Which is funny to me because I grew up in an area that while technically it had four seasons, really had more of two seasons, mild winter and mild summer. I have to say that I love living in an area with four true seasons. It really stops life from becoming monotonous.

  2. Well, Amy, if it is any consolation, we here in DC were wearing winter coats and scarves last week and we are in sleeveless dresses today, with the mercury north of 80, reportedly heading to 90 (and cherry blossoms, finally, at their peak). I love your blog posts — thanks to you and Will for being such steady bloggers. Enjoy Australia.

  3. I predict a possible change during year 2. Maybe not. But my experience in the Philippines was that year 1 (August – July) seemed all weird. Then Year 2 – oh my. I began wondering how on earth we ever squeezed in FOUR whole seasons back home. Didn’t that seem a little quick and chaotic? And, yes, the first several years back home did feel odd. Way too much change going on all the time. But I’m all back to four seasons now, and know it would be hard to make the shift again. Thank you, Amy and Will, for your service and your beautiful documentation of it.

  4. Oh man, same here! At this point I find myself often trying to figure out what month it is and what should be happening back home e.g. those seasonal cues. “Oh is it basketball season now? Baseball season? Did a major holiday just pass?” It’s all such a blur here. Hope you guys had fun in Australia!

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