Where I live, summer heat is a pretty normal thing. And I, in all honesty, can handle the heat. I am actually part Greek; my great-grandfather came over from Greece. So, if I start doing the division process (God, help me now. I’m doing math), then my grandfather is half Greek (I think), Mom is a quarter Greek, and I am a sixteenth. I don’t know about my maternal great-grandmother to know if my division is right.
But that Greek blood in me….that makes me heat tolerant, at least in comparison to my husband who looks at the sun-bleached windows and starts sweating ferociously. My grandmother (who had no Greek ancestry) would tell me that one drop of Greek blood meant that I was pure Greek. That might be true and all until I get out into the sun and start burning within thirty minutes.
Regardless, I can handle heat. For the most part. But where I live, the heat has a nasty twin sister known as “Humidity.” And she’s….unpleasant. To put it lightly.
I can handle Heat. I can’t handle Humidity. Because when I try to walk through my back yard in order to harvest vegetables and I feel like I’m breathing in water, well…I gave up my gills several millennia ago so that I could start walking on land. And though I think mermaids are really pretty, I kind of like stretching my legs and walking.
This morning, my husband and I went to the grocery store for the weekly food-run and I immediately noticed the coolness in the air. The summer heat and humidity have been broken. Thanks to several rounds of thunder storms rolling through the area, September’s promise of autumn has been delivered and my world has finally shifted on its axis.
I love all the seasons of the year. Each brings a promise of change, its own special hold on the world that gives me new perspectives and new bits of joy that are exciting and invigorating. If asked to choose a season that I love the most, I would struggle. It wouldn’t be summer. As much as I love the endless summer days and the joy of sleeping past 5:30 in the morning, I tire of the humidity which forces me to hide indoors because I feel like I just can’t breathe. And escaping to the mountains is always a possibility, but to do that requires money which quickly depletes. And my dog is far too old to go hiking on a daily basis and I will not leave him outside to suffer through the heat and humidity.
So, home I stay for most of the summer which is a weird form of cabin fever.
Therefore, summer is not my favorite season.
I love winter. Winter reminds me of Germany, reminds me of childhood and the thrills and joys of waking up to a crystalline world in which all of my old usual haunts are hidden and exploration is a must. But winter eventually becomes drab as the weight of cold becomes bone-draining and everything creaks. The joy of winter’s snow-days also eventually translate into piles of make-up work and adjusted calendars.
So that leaves spring and fall. And I can’t choose between those two because each have their own unique delights which, when compared, are equal. Spring: the new life literally bursting from the Earth, the awakening from winter’s somnolence, and the exuberance of running barefoot across the grass on a warm evening are non-duplicable.
Fall is the turning towards the sleep of winter. Fall is the slowing of the days from summer’s frenetic activities. Fall is finding the hiking paths that were blocked by summer’s humidity and exploring a world richer with a blanket of color that reminds me that I must thrust into the joy of life before I lapse into the winter hibernation. Fall is when I truly love fires in the fireplace because I am not yet so cold that I need the crackling heat. I can love the warmth because it feeds me without making me feel like I’m starving for its nourishment.
The awakening into fall is as deliriously joyful as the awakening into spring. It is re-discovering the world because the sun isn’t as intense and the spectacle of color as leaves steadily leach their colors enables me to see more than just the surface level of GREEN. The hidden spectrums burst forth and I can see everything almost as a multi-lensed dragonfly; everything is brilliant and I am a humming part of the Earth.
Fall is both awakening and falling asleep. Fall is diving into leaf piles before carrying them into a fire where they will be recycled into ash and spicy smoke that burns my lungs but delights my senses. Fall is a hyperactivity of color set against a palate of browns and burnt umbers and the muted tones of the world preparing for its slumber.
And as the world slows, I slow with it. I love the three o’clock sunlight that lends a golden ochre to the trees that are slowly giving up their riches.
I love the crackle of desiccated leaves when I stomp through the layers thickly piled on the sides of the road. This is when I shed my forty-three year-old respectability and just giggle like a girl.
I love the darkness of storm clouds freckling an intensely blue sky and the wind peeling away from the Earth and shaking the trees before hurling around the corners of my house and making a sad but lovely song.
I love long lines of birds in their yearly migration, the dark clouds of wings as they undulate and swirl together. I love watching the clouds of small song birds swell and deflate like thriving aviary plasm.
Fall and spring are not synonyms. They are not synchronous chords in a musical symphony of life. They might be complementary angles in a horizon of color. Each holds their promise. Each teaches me about life and reminds me of the primal beauty of existence. But right now, I’m looking forward to running around a lake and being nothing more than a gasping burst of color within a changing, autumnal world.