Seasons of Love
You can never truly appreciate four seasons until you have lived without them for a while. Having spent the end of my teens and most of my twenties in the southern desert of Arizona, I can vouch for this. While the desert has its own unique and incredible beauty (which is what drew me there to begin with), it always felt like there was something missing. In the end, I realized it was not something, as much as it was an atmosphere, the very environment that I found lacking.
When we returned to the east coast, I found that I could not drive past any open water without stopping the car to gawk at the wonder of streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, ocean that just lie there minding their own business as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Which it is; if you don’t live in the desert. Flowers, broadleaf trees, green grass…all things I took for granted until I spent time without them. Then suddenly they became a source of wonderment and awe, and although I have lived back in New York for over twenty years, I still am so aware of them. And of course, you can’t have all this flora, fauna and water without seasons.
For some reason, people love to ask each other, “which is your favorite season?” Teachers love to ask their students this as well. To me, now, that is like asking my favorite flavor of fro-yo. Come on, they are ALL good. Honestly, although with frozen yogurt I admit that there are flavors that I really like tremendously, I don’t think I would ever be able to say “yuck” to a single one. Sorry, I digress and openly admit that I have a new obsession with frozen yogurt since the opening of the new Frannie’s Goodie Shop in Mount Kisco. Yes, I am shamelessly advertising Frannie’s; they just opened a new kiosk in the Plaza Hotel in NYC and if you go there, mention my blog! Oh, but wait, I was discussing seasons that people like best. I no longer have a favorite season; they are ALL that good.
I guess I should begin with summer, since that is where we are right now. Gloriously glittered with flowers and fireflies; sweltering afternoons; daylight that lasts until nine o’clock; people in fun, colorful outfits roaming and relaxed; bambis and baby birds and freshly mown lawns; motorcyclists in packs on the roads; the clatter of kids living the dream; fireworks and campfires; cooling salads, icy drinks and food from the grill; all the sights, smells, tastes and sounds that belong distinctively to sultry, sexy summer. Those who have to endure subway rides in hell just to get to work in over air-conditioned, windowless cubicles still can enjoy summer nights that give them hours of time afterwards for a drink or meal on a patio, or a walk. In the summer, which I am now fortunate enough to be able to enjoy without working, I spend my time outside as much as possible. The one and probably only thing I am disgruntled about with being a teacher is how much time I spend indoors, from 7:30 each day until 4 p.m. when the best part of school-year daytime is on the wane. And so in the summer, you will find me outside doing almost anything that will get me and keep there. Walks in the cool, leafy forest, walks along the sandy shore, walks through the bustling city; you get my meaning- in the summer, outside is the place to be. Staying up late and waking up early because of my F.M.S. (see post on “Sleep” for an explanation) I make the most of every minute. The waning of summer, those dog days of August, can sometimes make me a little sad, but I perk back up when I think about what is coming next.
Autumn with its riot of bright hot colors almost outshines its sizzling sister. This season gets a raw deal from those who dread the coming of winter and bemoan the end of another summer. But in its own right, Autumn has a singular feel; especially once you realize that it is unique to small parts of the world. People travel many miles just to experience what is outside my door every September. Earlier evenings and gentle cooling breezes usher in this time of year. Apple-picking, Halloween and Thanksgiving, a new school year, and blue jeans and cozy sweaters are the joys that this time of year brings. The smell of wet leaves in the morning accompanies the scurrying of squirrels planning ahead for hungry times. All of our birthdays are in Autumn; we three Virgos and two Scorpios (with Sagittarius leanings) have even more reason to celebrate this season. Autumn feels shorter than other seasons, sandwiched in between summer and winter. But it stands tall as a time of change and beauty; a last chance to spend quantities of time outdoors before it’s time to hibernate.
And then there is Winter. How Winter is hated by so many people! Snowbirds flee south, neighbors rush into their homes without much of a sideways glance, darkness and gloom are the colors of this season. Unless you peel back that top layer and look a bit closer. Winter creates a frozen desert of landscape- brown and black and gray hover over all. People mimic the season with their bleak, drab wardrobe. The odd person wearing bright colors seems to elicit derision from others (“Don’t you know that it’s winter?? No white, no flower patterns, no pink either!”) Winter is known among some native peoples as the “little death.” But underneath this dark overcoat, winter is truly special. Maybe it’s easier to take the negatives knowing that it is only a few months to endure…but to me there is something just as sexy about that lingering cold darkness as there is about summer. Fires in the fireplace; nighttime walks in the hush of a recent snowfall; red cardinals contrasting the white landscape; cuddling under blankets; skiing (!!!) and watching the kids skating on the frozen pond; only winter offers the need to work hard to make yourself happy. This is not a bad thing- it makes me appreciate the easier times, and gives me a feeling of satisfaction. I will admit that I love to shovel snow- it gives me a reason to be outside, and I get some fresh air and exercise while I am at it. Holiday lights, food, music, family gatherings all warm this frigid time from the inside out. I probably will not convince a single winter-weary or winter-wary soul that this is a wonderful season. So be it; I choose to acknowledge the good in it. Besides, in just a very few months, it will be Spring.
As I drive south each day to work, I begin to search for signs of Spring by the end of March. My ride takes me far enough that I actually get to see seasons change twice- due to its longitude and its altitude, my home is almost two weeks behind my school. The first purple crocuses pushing through the dense brown matting of twigs and mud bravely trumpet the coming changes. Then all of a sudden there are buds on the trees, small patches of grass and the smell of new growth all around. Rain and rainbows tussle with the sun in its efforts to shine longer and stronger. In the end, yay, the sun wins! Neighbors come out of hibernation, hats and gloves go back in the closet, out come the patio chairs. Spring is here- we made it! People seem to feel lighter; they certainly dress lighter- pinks, yellows and vibrant greens dominate the human landscape as well as the natural one. It is a season of newness; a rebirth of warmth; happiness stretches ahead. Spring reminds me to smile.
Seasons bring rhythm to my life. This is what was missing out there in the desert- the four distinct parts of the year. I have learned to allow the positives of each period to far outweigh the negatives, and although the passing of seasons also brings with it the fact of getting older, I choose to find ways to enjoy what each unique season has to offer. I guess that living without them for so long has helped me value them so much.