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Should we have five seasons?

One of the great conversations amongst all those who work the land (whether they be farmers or gardeners) is the weather. How many times have you heard older generations say that “the seasons are different to when I was a lad”, or “you can grow things for longer into the cooler seasons than you could years ago”.

Inevitably the queries become entangled in the Great Debate of Our Time: that of climate change. Even chatting to more older residents of my town in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney has the familiar “changing seasons” ring to it.

Many old timers in my town insist that the weather was a lot cooler than it is now and they can remember being sent to school knee deep in snow regularly during the winter months.

Certainly in my relatively short time living in the Mountains has seen me grow vegetables for longer into the autumn months than I seem to recall when I first planted my garden in the same spot. Or is it that I’ve become more adaptable?

Not being a scientist I’m certainly not qualified to talk on the climate question raging through our media, pubs, clubs and coffee houses. However one scientist who is qualified to discuss the issue is Professor Tim Entwisle, head of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

Prof. Entwisle is to release a book shortly with the intriguing title: “Sprinter and Sprummer: Australia’s Changing Seasons”. He insists the seasons were arbitrarily named without any reference to Australian conditions — a problem exacerbated by the so-called “spring creep” experienced around the world due to climate change.

His argument is a cogent one. For Australia has six climate zones some of which (the tropics in northern Australia) make do with a more logical “wet” season and “dry” season.

Prof. Entwistle is seeking to do away with the naming of spring altogether. Or, more accurately, to divide it into two: which the good professor tentatively names “sprinter” and “sprummer”.

The first of course would fall on the bridge between winter and spring and the latter moving towards the summer. According to Prof. Entwisle’s calculations the seasons would run as follows:

Summer: December to March
Autumn: April, May
Winter: June, July
Sprinter: August, September
Sprummer: October, November.

The professor told Melbourne radio station 3AW that his proposal would make Australians “more in tune with the country we live in”.

What do you think? Would the five seasons make more sense in your zone? Remember Prof Entwisle comes from the “four seasons in a day” capital of Melbourne! Perhaps you can think of better names for “sprinter” and “sprummer”?

I can see it running into trouble in my local area where August often sees some of the coldest days in the year. We’d love to hear your views though, either here or over at our very popular Facebook Page.

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