At the end of every season, I can’t help but look forward to the next. As much as I love the idea that spring and summer are around the corner, I know, come the end of August, I will be looking forward to cooler weather – though that seems impossible right now. The same goes for autumn. The first few times I smell wood smoke in the crisp, low-humidity air of October, I am reminded of the excitement of snow, cold, moving firewood and plowing with the tractors. But, right now as I think about spring and mud season, winter seems like a mouthful of cod liver oil.
Why is that? Normally, I would say I am not one to embrace change very well. But seasonal change, which is very well defined in northern New England, is so much a part of life that those changes are a reassurance of life itself. “I experience all six seasons, therefore I am” could be the meteorological version of René Decartes “I think, therefore I am.”
Recently, I have been playing with another thought; perhaps the issue here is that I am living just on the forward edge of the present. I am not living in the present because that is too fleeting. Everything takes planning, even somewhat mindless exercises. (When was the last time you plowed snow and did NOT think about where you were going to pile it? You probably didn’t think in words, but in deeds, still planning all the same.) Or, when you plant the garden, you make some kind of mental picture of where all the plants will go, even if you are just getting the spinach in right now.
This type of existential thinking has a tendency to happen during the colder months of the year, when sitting, reading, thinking and writing have a propensity for exerting themselves. (Rereading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance probably has acted as a lubricant as well.) Thank goodness summer is right around the corner, even if I have to drive down a few more muddy roads to get there. But, as hard as it is to believe, come October, winter won’t seem like a spoonful of cod liver oil.
Yes, you read that right, there are SIX seasons in Vermont. The year starts in winter and eventually moves to mud (when the dirt roads become a challenge unless you drive a monster truck) and into spring, which is elusive and often short-lived, then on into summer, with all of its abundances. Autumn follows, with brilliant colored leaves, sharp air and final harvests. The calendar year wraps up with stick season, when the Fibonacci sequence is apparent on the top of every deciduous tree and the steely gray-blue skies of November prepare us for the suspended animation of winter that is sure to come.