Summer is all this and more, for these are only my depictions of the season.
Ask anyone else and you will get a hundred more.
These are what are familiar and, in a way, comfortable to me about Australian summers. It’s what makes it home. But it’s also what can be so foreign to our friends from across the water.
This was brought to a point for me recently when I returned from a three-week holiday to the United States.
I left 3°C Boston to arrive (some 29 hours later) in 23°C Brisbane.
And that’s not even a hot day, by any means. It’s 41°C outside as I sit here typing.
I had always imagined the US to not be so different from Australia, but during our three weeks abroad I witnessed an array of strange and foreign seasonal habits.
I experienced what makes winter winter for them.
It’s the six layers of clothes you cover yourself in before you leave the house.
It’s North Face coats and Starbucks coffee. It’s Thanksgiving and ice hockey.
It’s the smell and taste of cinnamon everything. And pumpkin. I kid you not, I had a cinnamon spiced pumpkin latte.
But this is what winter is to them – what is familiar and welcoming.
So while it was unusual for me, participating in all that made me feel as if I was experiencing winter properly for where I was.
It allowed me to pretend I belonged.
Somewhere I didn’t need to pretend was the National Cathedral in Washington DC.
Not only was it familiar to my sister and I as major West Wing fans, it appears often throughout the TV show, but it was familiar in that other way.
That realer, more intrinsic way.
If you’ve ever visited a church in another country you will understand what I mean.
Entering under those cavernous ceilings, I instantly felt at home.
I was in God’s house and there we are always welcome. The enormous endless archways were a sight previously unseen by my eyes, nor had before gazed through those intricate stained glass windows.
The Cathedral wasn’t even Catholic. It was Episcopal.
Yet I was filled with unparalleled presence of peace and prayer on visiting this building.
As I said, it was a house of God. It was familiar to me, and I think that’s what I found most beautiful.
Speaking of familiar.
You will have noticed by now, my dear Leader Reader, the quantity of alterations to our beloved paper.
A quantity surpassed only by quality.
Whether you’ve browsed the shiny new website, flicked through the pages of a freshly printed edition, or (like me) enjoyed the uploads on Instragram, Pinterest and Twitter, you will have met the sleek new version of The Catholic Leader.
And yet, it’s kind of the same isn’t it?
It’s like getting a haircut – you’re still you, but you feel newer and cleaner and people start making a fuss.
“Oh, new haircut?”
“Nice, I like it. It suits you.”
So as you read this latest copy of the Leader, you will find all your favourites.
Oh yes, there’s the world news.
And there’s the film review and the youth section.
Good to see the People piece is still taking pride on the back page. Even I’m still here.
But I have to say Catholic Leader, I’m loving your new haircut. Looking good. It suits you.
If you’ll allow it, I’d like to use my little column to congratulation the entire Leader team for their efforts in bringing about such a wonderful newspaper.
I’ve shaken some of your hands and know it has been a major overhaul over many long hours.
Congratulations on the fantastic outcome and thanks for welcoming us – your followers – back to the familiar pages each week.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.