Autumn is everywhere today. The trees on campus, the ones with the five-fingered leaves, bleed from the center of their hands, crimson fanning out in the veins and overtaking the summer-green tips.
My beloved Marin hills are crackling orange and gold, as if, while I was away for the weekend, someone threw a match and set them ablaze.
The fog burned away, but it didn’t take the chilly breeze with it.
I am thinking about the change of seasons.
I have learned to see the turning leaves, shorter days, and lower temperatures for the portents that they are: Fall is here, which means Winter is coming.
But if I were the first person on earth, how many times would that have to happen before I saw a pattern?
Presuming I also hadn’t learned how to chart a calendar in the stars, how many Winters would I fearfully enter before I could embrace the cold with the unwavering certainty Spring would still come?
And even now, with calendars and the whole history of human weather experience working in my favor, I still get it wrong: What explains or predicts that Indian Summer day? That “unseasonable weather” that drives a Springtime freeze?
Those are serious things.
I went to college at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and my sophomore year, there was a nasty ice storm. A 2-inch layer of ice coated everything, shutting the city and the university down for four days. The weight of the ice split a 150 yr old oak tree in two; half of it landed on my car, the other dangerously laid against our house.
All that damage occurred on June 1st.
Memorial day weekend, we had a BBQ in shorts.
For everything there is a season, but let’s not assume we can tell one season from another. There’s a point when Autumn feels more like Winter than Summer, and a point when Spring feels more like Summer than Winter, but it’s not clear and even. And it always catches us by surprise.
For all but a few weeks in January and July, the turning of seasons–the transition–is messy business.