Did you know that roughly 88% of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere? This perhaps isn’t altogether surprising given that 68% of liveable land is also in the Northern Hemisphere. However, that’s 88% of our total population whose experience of life differs in some fundamental ways from those “Down Under”. The most obvious of these is the seasons, with summer and winter being reversed. And, while this does not seem like such a great thing, it has an effect on a number of things. For example, in the Southern Hemisphere the academic year runs from February to December. The best time to go skiing is July or August. And Christmas is celebrated not with warm fires burning and snow on the ground, but with summer sun and barbecues and lashing of sunscreen.
And because I live almost as southerly as a person can get, I can report that here, right on mid-year, we are most certainly experiencing winter. It’s a season that lends itself to the use of alliteration – wet, wild, windswept, wintery – cold, cloudy, crisp, chill. As I write today, I could use many of those words to describe the weather outside. A leaden sky hangs overhead. Wind swirls and eddies as though being chased by an invisible foe. Fat droplets of rain streak the windows and the best place to be is at home by the fire.
I can’t say I’m really a winter person. In fact, if I had to pick a favourite season it would be spring. New leaves, new flowers, new life, longer days, the prospect of the summer to come. It’s not too hot and not too cold – a bit like Goldilocks’ ideal porridge. Yet I don’t detest winter either. Here, in Auckland, we don’t get snow (a few flakes get spotted by keen-eyed individuals every few years but these melt before falling to the ground) and frosts are rare. Fogs sometimes plague the airport, stranding passengers and disrupting travel plans. Rain, on the other hand, is our main tormentor, coming in waves from all different directions, sending people scattering for cover and contemplating the need for webbed feet.
It’s definitely the sort of weather that lends itself to indoor pursuits. Movie watching, games, a spot of mindless web surfing. And, of course, what could be better than a spot of reading on a wild day? But then, that’s the joy of books. You can just as easily read one in the summer as you can in the autumn, winter or spring. You can read them in bed or on the beach or in a plane or on a train. What could be nicer?
So, whether your weather be blizzardly or brilliant, dive in and make the most of books. After all, it’s fine weather…for books.