The seasons change gradually in Ireland. Unless you note the date, you may not even notice that one season has passed into the next. Not so in Montreal. The weather is more extreme, and the seasons quite distinct from each other.
According to the calendar autumn (or Fall) arrived here the other week. Sure enough, I spotted the first bright red leaves curling on the ground in anticipation of colder weather ahead. In the local market, swathes of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes festooned stalls that had only held summer fruits until now. Yet these were the only signs that autumn was upon us.
After a mostly mild summer relative to previous years, Montreal was right in the middle of an intense heatwave. The death throes of summer. It was the hottest and longest spell without precipitation all year. The temperature hovered around 30 degrees (86 F) for days, but it felt about ten degrees warmer than that. And it wasn’t just us Irish pale-skins that were feeling the heat for a change.
We went up to the mountains for a sweltering weekend where there were cooler breezes to breathe some relief to sun-fatigued limbs. You could tell from the foliage that a change of season was in the air. A dusting of yellow and red across the tips of the trees. The weather, however, was all wrong. Not the familiar chilly damp winds of autumn that we expect in Ireland. Instead a hot dry breeze still spoke of sunny days ahead. A contradiction. My eyes saw autumn. My skin felt summer.
Then suddenly this week it came overnight – a new season. The temperature plummeted from 30 to 15 degrees. Like a bucket of ice water thrown over the city. A cold sun still shone brightly in the clear blue sky. Sunglasses were still required to dim the glare. But for the first time in months, I reached for the cardigans at the back of the closet. The forecast says that there will be more pleasantly warm days to savour before we fully succumb to the Fall. These will be welcome. But the days of intense heat are now behind us until next year. A long cold winter is drawing closer. It’s not here yet, though.
Hello, Autumn. Dazzle me with your colours.