The season of snot and ridiculously beautiful parrots

IMGP6151_rainbow-lorikeet, originally uploaded by RaeAllen.

It’s spring here in Sydney (well, summer, technically), and that means flowers and pollen and snot. We’re in a temperate/subtropical zone, near the coast, and we get masses and masses of rain in the spring and autumn months. The European seasons are particularly useless as guides to weather in Sydney… well, for pretty much all of Australia, but I really feel the discrepency most here. The Dharawal calendar makes a lot more sense. Which isn’t surprising, seeing as how it’s the sum of 40 000 years worth of observation and knowledge, rather than 200 years of trying to force a round peg into a square hole. Despite the best efforts of British colonists, we are not England, and they have not made Australia so. But most European-Australians insist on using the European seasons to describe our climate and get all emotional about falling leaves and ‘real’ seasons from a country on the other side of the planet which really only exists in their parents’ imagination. It gives me the shits a bit.

The Dharawal calendar:

Gaalung Marool
(hot and dry)

(wet becoming cooler)

Tugarah Tuli
(cold, frosty, short days)

Tugarah Gunya’marri
(cold and windy)

(cool, getting warmer)

(warm and wet)

Right now we’re in Parra’dowee, which means warm and wet. Which is what it is. Big, masive pouring rain for a week, straight-down rain, like a warm, heavy shower. And then things dry out and the plants go INSANE with their flowers, the birds go NUTS with the nectar and pollen in the flowers (especially the rainbow lorikeets, adrenaline-charged sex addicts at this time of year) and the bats get crazy for the fruit coming into season. All this is very picturesque, but by geez it makes for bad hayfever. Snot. Snot. Snot.
But Parra’dowee describes this season – warm and wet – far more effectively than ‘spring’. It’s not as though the little plants are crawling out of the frozen ground. The plants have been steadily growing for the last few months, and really only slowed down during the coldest part of the year. And ‘cold’ in Sydney means, oh, below 20*C at least! I never wear my Melbourne winter clothes, and never need scarves or woolly hats. But I’ve invested in lots more light cotton dresses since I’ve moved here (you can check the average temperatures and rainfall in these graphs).
Melbourne is (sort of) covered by the Brambuk calendar, which is pretty harsh. Very hot and dry in summer, very cold and often wet in winter. Total rubbish. It reminds me of living in Wagga, which was also rubbish, weather-wise.

Living in Sydney is like living in Brisbane or Fiji, but with less humidity and more moderate temperatures. Which is probably because they’re tropical places. I adore Sydney weather. Even in this wet season, the blocks of rain are bracketed by weeks of perfect, gloriously blue-skied days and gentle temperatures. All this makes Canberra all the stranger. Just over a mountain range to the east (sort of), the winters are freezing cold with snow, and the summers are bakingly hot and dry. Sydney is best. Canberra is our closest lindy hop scene, and we are the two closest scenes in Australia, so we visit each other for special events. It’s a three hour drive, or three hours on the bus for a $30 ticket (or $15 if you get organised early enough). One year coming home from Canberrang, the bus drove through snow flurries, then we arrived in Sydney where people were at the beach swimming.

Sydney is the best, chuck out all the rest.

rock on, canberra

Dang, homies, I have so much to blog. But that’s the deal when you’re busy – plenty to blog about, no time to do the actual blogging.
Since my last post, I have come to Canberra and been at the CSAA conference where I gave my paper to what amounted to a bunch of my friends. There were some rockingly good parallel sessions, including some terribly cool ones on computers. Dance sounds really naff in the program (and that’s what it was called – ‘Dance’. Mmm, appealing. And in the final session of the conference no less). There were 3 of us presenting, then an assortment of our mates and one guy* who I suspect wandered in by accident (and actually ended up having all 3 of us presenters address a few ideas and comments to his paper in the preceding (and absolutely world-rocking) session which was called something like ‘Asian – the UnAustralian?’). I don’t think he was ready for 3 dance nerds on speed, feeling the love and ready to Give Cooperative Paper.
We three are always in the same session, even though we don’t really work on the same material. It’s like when you have ‘women’ in your thesis title – you’re popped in the gender studies department. But with us, when you have ‘dance’ in your title, you’re popped in the dance session. Even when you’re not really talking about dance so much as the relationship between online and embodied networks.
Ah well. We enjoy ourselves more and more each year. And this year I felt so comfortable with this crew (as did the other 2), I could direct particular points to the other presenters or ask them questions mid-paper. Not cool, in the world of ‘serious’ ackadackas, but far more fun. I think I break the ackadacka paper presentation rules every time I present. Too many dance clips. Too much fun. Too much to say. I’m also adverse to using impenetrable ackadacka language, so I’m sure I come off sounding ignorant. Or at least misinformed. I do write papers and intend to read them, verbatim, but I can never resist adding in comments. Especially when I’m showing clips.
In other conference news, it was really nice to catch up with old Brisvegas buddies. Shout out to the Gunders, Laurie Townsville, Sue, Andrea and everyone else – the sorts of people who feel comfortable in shorts and thongs and aren’t afraid to show it… though admittedly, Sue’s would be uber-chic, and not the Kmart variety.
I also developed a smarting crush on one of the Sydney pgrads (my lips are sealed)**, and my deep and abiding love for John Frow… abides. I was not the only one to admit to a serious crush on that tall, unusual and enduringly shy hawty acka. I am also smitten by (or should that be with?) Larissa Barendt: two top key note talks (missed all the others, and have heard mixed reports about them. Sorry I missed the unusual European with fascinating body language – the dancers on-crew gave very excellent reviews).
Tomorrow I do the cultural studies in dance seminar. It’s not as well organised as the CSAA doo, so I’m not feeling terribly confident. Also, there are a few too many concert dance types in the schedule, so…
I’ve been haranguing KLK about high and low culture and why the only option for me (as a cultural studies stooge), really, is to look at vernacular dance.
Meanwhile, we’re watching Back to the Future on telly, discussing our teenage years (during which this film was released), eating chocolate and sending each other to the kitchen for cups of tea.
I pay particular attention to Michael J Fox’s sneakers – the sort of adidas that are tres chic with the kids today.
Rock on Canberra.
*He was on my list of conference-crushes, actually. Dang he gave good paper.
**Unfortunately, all my crushes are for people’s brains. All my physical desires are reserved for The Squeeze. Because he gives good chop-and-freckle.