LESS IS MORE: Springing into winter's end

There’s an energy in the air again, meaning that winter is ending, as cold as it still is.
There’s an energy in the air again, meaning that winter is ending, as cold as it still is.

MY bee hives are buzzing after months of quiet. The wattles and eucalypts have burst into blossom. Mornings begin with a crescendo of birdsong. And there’s an energy in the air that assures me that winter is over – despite it still being freezing at times. Sprinter has sprung. 

If you look at the calendar, there’s still almost a month until spring begins. But according to Tim Entwisle, author of Sprinter and Sprummer: Australia’s changing seasons, the traditional four-season system does not make sense in Australia. 

‘‘We shouldn’t expect an imported seasonal model to work in an entirely different climate on the other side of the planet’’, he writes. 

‘‘Indigenous communities have always known that Australia’s climate is more complex than a simple four-season arrangement. Aboriginal communities around Australia have for tens of thousands of years recognised five to seven seasons, depending on where they live.’’ 

Entwisle suggests it’s time for us to ‘‘adopt a more realistic home-grown system. We should have seasons that reflect our local climate, not that of a continent 16,000kilometres away.’’

 He proposes some modifications to our current four-season system. 

‘‘A tweaking if you like. The familiar anchors, summer and winter, are there but the bits in between and the duration of the seasons are adjusted for the southern Australian climate.’’

According to Entwisle’s proposed five-season system, what we are experiencing now along the south-east coast of Australia is sprinter: ‘‘the flowering spring’’. 

‘‘It’s when we see the start of a profusion of flowers and it’s when wattles reach their peak in most parts of Australia’’. 

Sprinter celebrates this early flowering of Australian plants. It’s a two-month season from August 1 until the close of September. 

Then there’s sprummer, ‘‘the cantankerous weather time’’, in October and November. Sprummer is followed by a four-month long hot summer spanning December until March. A brief two-month autumn happens in April and May, followed by an equally brief winter during June and July. 

Sprinter is ‘‘the first season of the year’’ suggests Entwisle. ‘‘It’s a time of new beginnings. A time of renewal in the natural world.’’ 

I like that idea. This time of year feels more like the start of a new year to me than during the exhausting heat of January. It feels like a natural time for a fresh start. I’ve been sprinter cleaning and enjoying the awakening that’s happening in my garden. 

Sprinter is an apt name, not just because it falls between the traditional winter and spring, but because I feel like I’m sprinting most days. It’s an active time for gardeners. I’m collecting and digging in mountains of manure. Garden beds are being prepared and the contents of my seed boxes are spread across the kitchen table. 

I’m selecting seeds to sow into seed trays. I bring these seed trays inside at night to keep them warm. In this pile there’s tomatoes, eggplants and capsicum. I’m also setting aside seeds to direct plant into the garden in a few weeks once the risk of frost has decreased – zucchini, corn, pumpkin and watermelon. 

I like acknowledging sprinter. It helps me get a head-start in the garden. 

Tricia shares tips for living better with less at littleecofootprints.com and on Instagram (TriciaEco).