15 March 2009

Four Seasons

When I lived in California, one thing that always drove me crazy was people grumbling about how California didn't have any seasons. When I found out that we were moving to Vermont, people would often say was that they were happy for us because we were moving somewhere that had "real" seasons. As an ecologist, I would argue that a region's climate is its climate, and you shouldn't try to shoehorn the weather into some preconceived notion about how the seasons should change. And by that reasoning, coastal California does have seasons, if only two of them: rainy and dry.

But now we live in a place with four, legitimate seasons. We moved to Vermont in the summer, which is pretty miserable. It's hot and muggy (though not as hot and muggy as places further south of us). The fall, by contrast, is great. The weather is cooler and drier, and the leaves are as dramatical as everyone says they are. Winter is great, too (if a bit long), especially because we can walk to work and don't have to drive in the snow too often. Spring on the other hand, is the biggest let-down because the part we routinely associate with spring (trees leafing out, flowers blooming, etc.) lasts about two weeks.

Of course, Vermonters aren't satisfied with having only four seasons. Oh no, that would be too simple. Summer is just summer, like everywhere else. The fall, on the other hand, gets subdivided into two distinct parts: leaf season (when the leaves are colorful) and stick season (when the leaves are gone but the snow hasn't hit). Oddly, winter, even though it lasts about six months, is just winter.

Which brings us to our current season. The late winter/early spring also has its own name: mud season. This comes at the point in the year when you're most antsy to get outside because it's starting to warm up (it was in the 50s today). But there's absolutely nowhere to go that isn't covered in knee-deep muck, or a hybrid of unmelted snow and knee-deep muck. Snowshoe and ski season has ended, but hiking is out of the question. So we Vermonters just grit our collective teeth and grumble about the fact that summer is just around the corner but that the corner seems to be constantly just out of reach, like something you can only see with your peripheral vision. In a month or so, the leaves will be back on the trees, and we'll be surrounded by a green of seizure-inducing intensity. In the interim, I'll try to appreciate this mirror-image of stick season and enjoy the fact that my down coat has (hopefully) been retired for another year.

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Blogger Kyle said...

If you're feeling antsy, you can always come over and rake my lawn of all the dead leaves I didn't rake at the end of stick season :-)

3/18/2009 2:16 PM


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