Autumn in Melbourne

Autumn I think is my favourite season of the year. I like the transition from blazing summer to cool winter. I like how the colours change, how the leaves go from green to brown, I like in fact the feeling of things maturing and changing, the clear perception that we are part of a never-ending cycle – and this is my favourite part of it.

March may be my favourite month of the year. It could be argued it is more summer than autumn, and that is certainly true of recent years. Summer heat continues into March without pausing – and yet the turning, when it comes, comes generally in March. In one month then we have the whole spectrum, long days and summer heat, and cool days that hint of the winter to come. This is Melbourne after all, and so sometimes we get the whole lot in a single day.

Two weeks ago we baked, a succession of days of 35 degrees plus. The last few days it has been cool – I am wearing a thick jumper today. The rain has come too, a rare commodity at any time of the year, long nights of teeming rain pounding soothingly on the roof, and mornings of deep puddles on the road, and cloudy skies lit colourfully by the rising sun.

March is a good time of year in Melbourne. There is a very distinct transition in ways other than climate. The summer days of cricket are passed. The winter days of footy are generally ahead (though an early start to the season this year sees round two start tonight). The Grand Prix comes and goes, an odd diversion in the social life of the town, but not much more. Much more telling are the various festivals that begin – the fashion festival first, then the food and wine festival – always fun – culminating in the big one, the comedy festival.

My understanding is that the Melbourne Comedy Festival ranks behind Edinburgh and on a par with Montreal. It is always a lively and fun part of the year. Like many Melbournians I make it a point to go every year. I went last night to see Stephen Amos, who was good. There is a vibe even before you walk into the venue. You catch up for a couple of drinks first and most of the crowd like you are waiting for their show to begin. Then you walk down the road. Outside the City Hall the crowds mill, and touts – all with a lively sense of humour – try to flog you half-price tickets to pending shows.

Then the show begins, the crowd enters and seats itself, the lights dim, and onto the stage there comes this year’s comic. Before you know it the venue is rocked with laughter, and at shows end people exit thickly, for dinner maybe, or maybe more drinks, permeated all by this sense of fun and good nature. The streets are thick, the stars glitter in the moist sky, and bright lights drive away the darkness into the corners. It’s a good place to be you think, and a good way to live.

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