Seasons of Change 

Growing up in the UK, we took it for granted that there were four seasons in a year, governed by the length of days, temperature, and the life cycles of plants and animals. In those days we wouldn’t have thought of saying “duh!” to this statement, since it was downright obvious.  Obvious to the extent that, having moved to Massachusetts, when people told me it was a great place to live because it had four seasons, I was bewildered, with no idea what they meant. Of course there are four seasons!  Yet these were odd seasons indeed, a winter that gobbled up most of spring, clenching the ground in a “permafrost”  that, initially, was sparklingly pretty and finally, miserably grimy.  In contrast to the gentle unfurling of a British spring, spring in Massachusetts arrives in a violent flash, forsythia in acid yellow suddenly assaulting the eyes, and the trees bursting open their leaves with a showbiz flourish.  Summer could be hot enough to draw us like horses to water, and sometimes humid even in the northeast. And then there’s  fall, and all  else is forgiven; flaming trees against jewel bright skies all reflected in crystal kettle ponds.  Oh yes! It’s good to share the four seasons in Massachusetts. Inevitably, I went up the seasonal learning curve: in those early years, a friend of mine moved to California.  She casually mentioned that flowers bloom there all year round.  Aha! I grasped it!  You can define seasons by dates on the calendar, not solely by observing the cycles of nature. 

Early in September there was a freak snow storm where we live in Colorado. It destroyed some of the plants and vegetables we had tended with such surprise and delight. Leaf-laden tree limbs crashed down, one after the other and sadly, migrating birds caught in the  storm’s maelstrom  also crashed to the ground.  As we’ve all seen, freak weather is now all too common signaling the impact of a warming climate, and a shift in the seasons.

Although our bodies’ rhythms attune to those of the natural world, there are other seasons we can incline towards.  Chris and I have recently marked “travel season,” when we confine ourselves and the cats to a car for three days as we travel from our “Colorado season” to our “Floridian” one. As you can guess, after much protest, the cats acclimatize faster and easier than we do! The local lizard population was under threat before we’d unpacked!  Some of our “seasons” mark difficult stretches in our lives. Years ago, Chris used to refer to his “divorce season,” and a friend of ours is currently in a “season of grief” that will likely fade but never entirely leave him.

Where I can, (especially in this “Covid and chaotic season,”) I’d like to try to frame more positive seasons; the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent” springs to mind.  Perhaps I can focus on a “season of courage,” or a “season of helping others and being kind to myself.” Most of all, I’d like to shoot for a “season of hope“  where we aim to come together to bring about change and parry back fear.

End Notes

Reading

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

Listening

(As we traveled)

The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeynab Joukhadar   

Viewing

The Mission 

Poetry

(Congratulations to Louise Gluck on winning the Nobel Prize for Literature)

Amit Majmudar reads his poem ‘Vocative’

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