It’s Friday evening at the beginning of March. Normally at this time of year we would be having a glass of something cold on our deck, looking across the valley, contemplating all the gardening we should have been doing, admiring our trees, watching the tui flying in between the branches. We’d be happy and relaxed. Normally at this time of year we would be basking in mid-summer weather. We’d be feeling satisfied that we’d already had a couple of months of decent weather, and we’d be keeping our fingers crossed that it would continue for another month or so. Sure, basking as a word is a little over-stating it. This is Wellington after all, New Zealand after all. We’re a group of small islands at the bottom of the Pacific, and so we don’t have a stable, continental climate, and we don’t get extremes of weather. But we usually have a few months of a decent summer; blue skies, sunny days, temperatures that tempt us to expose our flesh to the sunlight, picnics, barbecues with friends, lots of cold sauvignon blanc or a chilled crisp rose.
Instead, I’m wearing socks and a fleece jacket, and not for the first time this summer. I remember complaining three years ago that my sister came to visit on the 22nd February and summer ended. The temperatures dipped down to 20 C or below, and whilst we had a pleasant enough autumn, it started far too early. This year, we’ve barely had a summer, temperatures have only occasionally crept above 20C, and my disappointment is beyond words.
And to add insult to injury, my husband is outside cleaning the drains, preparing for the storm that is due to come. The news reports are full of warnings about heavy rainfall and gale force winds. My husband works in an industry that gets direct reports from the Meteorological service. His contacts have warned of a storm of “biblical proportions.” Oh great, just what we need. We’ve already had a number of storms this “summer” – we’ve discovered new leaks, had a few windy nights. We might not live in a cyclone/hurricane belt – but living in Wellington is as close to that as I can imagine. I hate lying in bed feeling so vulnerable, wondering if our roof is going to blow off and land on the other side of the valley. (You might laugh, but there are regular reports of roofs being blown off by winds in Wellington. This is not an unreasonable fear here.) The rest of the country – less accustomed to wild winds – is also battening down the hatches. I wonder if we’ll notice any actual difference here in Wellington.
It seems summer has deserted us. In fact, it never arrived, never even came close.