I have always lived in the Midwest. Believe me, I don’t regret it…for many reasons…. One of the best is that I get to experience all four seasons as they are meant to be experienced. The heat and humidity of summer; the crisp suddenness of fall; the blanketing somnolence of winter; the vibrant burst of spring. I feel sorry for those who choose not to know it, or actually don’t want it. I overheard someone in the Denver airport recently say he wanted “warm” all the time. Bah!
Summers in the Midwest are times of exuberance! Despite the heat that can be well above 100 degrees with humidity to match (and as many bugs per square inch), we’re out in our shorts and T-shirts enjoying the “Mom and apple pie” of baseball games, fireworks (beginning in June or earlier), and homemade ice cream. No way we can appreciate what’s to come if we don’t have the memories of the heat. Despite that, if you’re willing to look, you can see the world here become green and gold as the land responds to the climate and the crops ripen and mature like the earth itself. Life slows a bit, and we all take the time to spend more time together outside. Even the palest of us takes on the glow of summer sun.
In the coming months the temperatures drop and the bugs begin to leave us alone. Instead of green and gold, we get red and orange and the crispness and lace of occasional frosted leaves. Fall means gathering the bounty of the summer and counting the blessings of our time. Days retain the summer’s heat for a while and give way to nights of cozy fires and indoor pastimes. We remember what has been and begin the countdown to the new year.
Winter can be sudden. The blanketing snows may come early and cover the earth with a sameness of cold and clean, or they may tease the air and ring in the next year with only flurries of frigid somnolence. Despite this, we join together to celebrate what has been and rejoice in anticipation of what is to come. The trees raise bare arms to clatter in fierce, frozen winds, applauding our time of rest as well as celebrating the time we have to come together in shared warmth. Hearth and home warm hearts and souls and we give thanks for one another.
No other time anywhere is as glorious or as violent as spring can be here. Everything BURSTS overnight! One day it is frozen in the hard past. The next it is thawed in melting newness. The gold of the dawn is seen in suddenly opened buds that just as soon are excruciatingly green. Nothing is gradual. Mornings may be iced; afternoons wet with labor’s sweat and preparation; evenings cooled to celebratory chill. The sun may seem to fall in gentle showers of rain. It seems that the changes are actually visible—buds to blossoms to leaves within minutes—explosions of life that should be audible, as well. The sleep of winter becomes the dance of spring. True, in one day’s time lapse, we can experience every imaginable climatic event except hurricanes! The dawn may be cold enough to leave frost on the new grass; early morning might see snow showers changing to sleet, hail as large as baseballs; midday might mean torrential downpours; late afternoons chase us underground to cover our heads as the earth itself seems to rise up and turn over in violent cyclonic winds that strip away everything from blades of grass to high rise buildings; while sunset might present a palette of color to mock the destruction of the afternoon.
Why would anyone want to have only one season? The changes of the earth are the rhythms of life and living. We feel the revolutions of the earth. In its spinning around the sun we change our clothes and metamorphose physically, spiritually, emotionally. The older I get, the faster the turns seem to come. It’s a wonder I’m not dizzy, but I love these evolutions. It’s not a winding down by any means. I hope to be a Midwestern dervish for many years to come. Feel free to dance with me in any season.