Seasons

seasons

Congratulations, folks! We’ve made it through the summer, and it’s autumn again.  Where does the time go?  Over the years, I’ve given summer a pretty bad rap, and even though it clearly deserved it, I should apologize.  Sorry, summer — you hot, sweaty mess!  Actually, I shouldn’t be so hard on summer.  It’s just one of the seasons and, as they say, “To every season/there is a reason.”  Vivaldi knew this and wrote some cool music to demonstrate it.  So, even though I’m no Vivaldi, here’s my take on the four seasons.

Winter is for the mind.

Winter is thick books and old libraries; dusty, hard-to-find bookstores cluttered with forgotten, twice-told stories.  It’s big socks, ankle-bunched and comfortable.  It’s long, dark hours and hot tea, quilted with spice.  It’s pages of adventure that sip like cups of soup, hand-warm and held close to your face.  It’s cozy against the lonely cold scratching at the windows and crowded with imagination.

Spring is for the spirit.

Spring is splashy rain and wide, warm mornings; flocks of shepherdless clouds, grazing the sky.  It’s busy-bird busy, darting on the breeze, beaks full of new-nest enthusiasm.  It’s turned dirt, moist with tender green promises … that there will be flowers.  It’s trees awake with tiny, inexperienced fingers, first fluttered in the singing afternoon.  It’s bare arms and short skirts and sly, secret smiles that catch your eye like jewelry.

Summer is for the body.

Summer is painted bright toenails and young girls, lithe as deer, dancing in the sand.  It’s sun-hot games, smooth with muscles.  It’s music, laugh -loud and twisting.  It’s fresh-cut grass and scented gardens and spray cool water.  It’s tickle and giggle and chasing with excitement.  It’s coloured drinks that drip, and honey-coated skies and jokes and teases and everyone talking at once.

Autumn is for the soul.

Autumn is scarves and gloves and hair, finger-combed and tangled.  It’s crisp crumbled leaves cremated on the wind and scattered.  It’s walking in the low, grey afternoon, coat buttoned and no place to go.  It’s a park bench, forgotten in the bony trees that whisper the words of a poem you can’t quite remember.  It’s a love song that no longer makes you cry.  It’s old friends and long ago’s and all the things we forfeit to time.  It’s a pause at the window while the world walks by.

It’s Spring — 2019

spring

Thank God it’s spring!  And this isn’t just another date on the calendar; this is the real meal deal.  Mother Nature is changing her clothes, and Father Time is watching.  We mere mortals are only a small part of what they both have in mind, but, like every year since this planet was a baby, it’s going to be spectacular.   As of today, the birds and the bees are back, and they’re feeling frisky.

Unfortunately, the spring solstice doesn’t carry the kind of punch it used to.  These days, it’s mostly living on its rep.  We all know it’s spring, but in a world of central heating, air conditioning, mega-malls and concrete canyon streets, how many of us really care?  In the 21st century, we generally ignore the world around us until Mother Nature gets pissed off and starts slapping the crap out of everything in her path – then we pay attention.  Primitive humans weren’t this arrogant; that’s why they treated the spring solstice with some respect.

Back in the day, winter in the northern hemisphere was nothing to be trifled with.  Our species never physically adapted to the cold the way some of the other animals on this planet did.  However, despite our natural tendency to freeze to death, we insisted on living in climates that were inhospitable for four (or more) months of the year.  The only recourse for this stupidity was to outsmart Mother Nature, using the tools at hand – fire and the skins of more practical animals.  Plus, our instincts told us to hide in caves when a hostile world starting howling for our bones.  This strategy worked and we survived long enough to understand that — even though Mother Nature spent a good amount of time trying to kill us — eventually she would relent and treat us like her special children again.  And this was cause for celebration.

As we evolved beyond beetle-brow tough to early-human clever, we must have realized that these constantly changing seasons were not random.  They had a pattern.  When winter was over, the leaves came out.  From there, only a Neanderthal wouldn’t put two and two together and realize, once the leaves started to fall, winter was coming back.  (That’s why there are no more Neanderthals, BTW.  Just sayin’.)  With that in mind, it wasn’t a Cro-Magnon leap of intelligence to figure out that, with a little planning, we could gather food and firewood during the good weather, store them away, and a smart cave family could sit out the winter in relative comfort.  Thus, instead of hanging out in the cave, shivering and getting skinny all winter, we had some leisure time to put that big brain or ours to work.  We watched the sun, we watched the moon, we noticed when the ice started to melt, when the birds came back and when the bear two caves over woke up grumpy, hungry and looking for a fight.  This was all important stuff, because the more we knew about the seasons, the more likely it was that we’d be around to see a few of them.

 

Unfortunately, climatology hadn’t been invented yet, and so humans simply filed all these various discoveries under “Mother Nature: Whims and Idiosyncrasies.”  But Mother Nature was real.  She made the flowers bloom, the warm breezes blow, and warmed up the sun.  So, when winter was over, it made sense for primitive humans to take a minute, be polite and say thanks.

These days, we don’t much care for Mother Nature.  After all, for the last two hundred years or so, we’ve been fighting with her for supremacy on this planet.  There are some who say we’re winning and some who say we’ve already lost.  Unfortunately, the majority of us don’t seem to give a damn, either way.  Our egos are so secure we no longer thank her — or anybody else — for our existence.  However, on a morning like this one, in the first sunlight of what’s going to be a perfectly gorgeous day, I tend to get a little caveman-humble.  I hear the birds putting on the brag, see an ambitious green sprig forcing its way through the sidewalk and maybe — just maybe — sniff a sweet change in the air.   And it all tells me something special is happening again this year — and it’s going to fantastic.

 

Thanks, Mother Nature!

Suddenly, Every Day Is Special!

calendar 15

Yesterday was Pi Day, a celebration of the number 3.14159 etc., etc., etc.  Numbers don’t usually get a day, but mathematics is not what you’d call a labour-intensive profession and Math Nerds have a lot of time on their hands.  Today is the Ides of March, an ancient Roman something-or-other festival that nobody would care about if Brutus and his buddies hadn’t taken the opportunity to turn their pal Julius Caesar into a pin cushion.  And Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, a day when everybody tries to drink themselves green because a pack of 19th century New York Irishmen got homesick.  Folks, I think we’re getting a little over- scheduled.

Back in the day, primitive humans observed a couple of annual events to break up the monotony of trying to stave off starvation.  They celebrated Spring because they’d lived through the winter.  “OMG! We made it!”  And they celebrated the autumn harvest because there was food on the table.  “Yay!  Let’s eat!”  Aside from that, there wasn’t all that much for primeval humans to get excited about.

Enter organized religion.  When you have nameable gods, it makes sense to pause from time to time and thank them for life, liberty and the pursuit of getting enough to eat.  “Oh, Lord!  You’ve been awful good to me this year.  Thanks for letting me kill that mastodon.  Here, I made you a necklace out of his bones.  Any chance of getting another one before winter sets in?  Amen.”

From there, it was an easy step to commemorating tribal events — things like the death of a great leader, a particularly successful hunt or a military victory.  “Hey, Benny!  Remember last winter when we kicked the crap out of the Neanderthals?  We should set aside a special day to have a howl and a dance and tell our kids that story.”

The calendar wasn’t all that crowded, and these were important occasions.  They were seasonal or religious events or days of national pride, and for hundreds of years, our society used these times to celebrate our common beliefs and aspirations.  We even added a few new ones, like Thanksgiving and Labour Day, and allowed a couple of “not-so-serious” days to come along for the ride – notably, Hallowe’en and Valentine’s Day.

Welcome to the 20th century.  We loaded up the year with enough “special days” to give every date on the calendar five or six notations.  It all started with Mother’s Day in 1908 because, of course, everybody loves their mother.  She deserves a special day.  But, what about dad?  We couldn’t leave that poor bugger out in the cold.  He needed a day.  And from there it was just open season – Grandparents’ Day, Groundhog Day, Farmers’ Day, Secretaries’ Day, Road Construction Day, Robbie Burns Day, Bloomsday (June 16th) Star Wars Day (May the 4th) and on and on and on.  Suddenly, every day was special.

So, today, if you don’t want to celebrate the 2,062nd anniversary of the death of Julius Caesar, you have some choices — and BTW, these are all official days.  First of all, it’s International Day against Police Brutality (kinda self-explanatory.)  Next, it’s World Consumer Rights Day (Good luck with that one!)  But, it’s also World Day of Muslim Culture (which, depending on where you live, could tie in with item #1) World Speech Day and Eva Longoria’s birthday (she’s 44.)

Personally, though, I’m going with World Contact Day.  That’s right:  This is the day that the International Flying Saucer Bureau wants you to go outside and try your best to contact extra-terrestrials — telepathically.  Don’t knock it!  It beats the hell out of World Malaria Day.