December 30th, 2008


In a Season of Calm Weather

As of late, I've been writing at least one Oz-related post every week. Fortunately, I've recently increased the number LJ-friends who have actually read the books, so I'm hopefully not just writing to myself. And since I'm relegating these topics to their own posts, all you non-Oz-lovers can skip them without missing anything significant. Anyway, since it's now winter (although it didn't exactly feel like it today), I thought I'd write a little bit about seasons and weather in Oz. I know there have been some suggestions that Oz might be in the Tropics, since it pretty much always seems to be warm there. Most of what was written about it doesn't really SOUND tropical, though, but more like a temperate climate in perpetual springtime. It doesn't rain there anywhere near as much as you'd expect in a tropical country. And there do seem to be SOME seasonal changes. While Baum tells us in Emerald City that "[t]he weather is always beautiful in Oz," he'd already reported in Land that Mombi's pumpkins (one of which ends up being Jack Pumpkinhead's first noggin) were "planted and carefully tended that the four-horned cow might eat of them in the winter time." There's no snow in Oz, according to Ruth Plumly Thomspon in Grampa, but bears and opossums still hibernate in the winter. We do later see some snow in Oz, but only in isolated areas. Oz also has arid deserts (including one particularly dry and deadly one surrounding the entire country), at least one jungle, a few swamps, and a lot of deciduous forest. As with much about the land, I think magic is really the only feasible explanation for such a variety of climates in a relatively small area. Maybe it was part of Lurline's enchantment, although a fair amount of the magic in Oz and the surrounding countries doesn't seem to have anything to do with her. We know Glinda has a certain amount of weather-control magic, since she has a spell in place to keep storms away from the Cuttenclips' paper village, and maybe some other magic-workers do as well.

If Oz is on our Earth at all (and this is something that's frequently debated), then it's most likely in the Northern Hemisphere. I've seen some suggestions that the mini-continent on which it is located is in the South Pacific, but it always seems to be spring in May, and Captain Salt mentions in the book named after him that there are cold islands in the northern Nonestic Ocean and tropical ones in the southern waters. Going by the James E. Haff and Dick Martin map on David Hulan's distance estimates, though, it looks like the frigid Snow Island is no more than a hundred miles or so from the tropical Patrippany. Of course, Haff and Martin had to fit as much as they could on the map, and maybe these islands are really farther apart than they appear to be. Still, I think there's a fair amount of magic influencing the climate in the borderlands of Oz as well, even if not as much as in Ozma's kingdom itself.