We were getting dressed for the last home football game of the season at our alma mater, the University of Virginia. We bought season tickets this year thinking that our new coach would win us into a new era of UVA football. It appears, however, that our win-loss record is much like DNA—it’s hard to change. Just as we insist we will never be like our parents, the DNA is too strong and by the time we’re forty, we’re saying all the things we swore we’d never say. UVA football is like that. Except for a few years in the late 80’s, the losing tradition appears to be genetic.
Anyway, as we got ready to go to the game, my wife mentioned that she was wearing long underwear. I laughed. I ridiculed. I said, “It’s going to be in the mid fifties outside. Why would you need long underwear?”
She said, “I think it might get cold.”
I knew she was wrong. I’ve been down this road before. She’s always cold. This was her typical way of preventing even the slightest of chills. Normally I would tough it out. But my slight, yet handsome, physique makes me susceptible to the cold. So, I put on my long underwear and prepared to complain to her once I started sweating.
As the game entered the fourth quarter, the sun had long since dipped below the stadium wall. I picked up my bottle of water and saw a thin layer of ice floating on top. It felt like we had been dropped into the frozen food section of the grocery store. It was ridiculously cold. I was so glad I had suggested that we wear long underwear. (Editor’s note: My wife previews all of my blogs and pointed out a glaring inconsistency in this last statement. Eh!)
As we were walking back to our car and she gloatingly mentioned that the temperature had dropped quite fast, there was a familiar feel in the air. It was fall. It reminded me of the times I sat through a chilly high school football game, long before climate change had been discovered, and could smell the earthiness of dead leaves on the ground, the smokiness of burning logs in the fireplaces, and the mothballi-ness of my fresh-out-of-storage wool band uniform. All around us, the landscape was graying as a visual affirmation of the impending change of season. For some, it might have been depressing. But for me, it was exhilarating.
I love the change of seasons. All of them. I love to spring forward and fall back, or to celebrate the winter solstice and Christmas in July.
You see, seasons remind me that the world doesn’t stay the same. Things change. Time moves on. We change. We move on. The trick is to manage our own change of seasons and not get too caught up in any particular aspect of the change. You don’t hear the trees complaining that they’re losing their leaves, yet again. I suspect that if they could talk, they’d understand that the leaf-dropping process is part of something bigger. If you want to see what I mean, just read the wonderful allegory called The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia.
In the meantime, let’s think about how the seasons progress.
Summer ended a couple of months ago and summer really is the season that’s all about being outdoors. It’s great—except for the bugs, the sweating, and the UV rays. I’m a pale bald guy. Strong sun and I don’t get along. Actually, bright office lights and I don’t get along either but that may have more to do with office work than the actual lights. So, since I’m pale, I’m not really much of a beach guy. I’m too translucent. In fact, when I do go to the beach, I feel that everyone looks at me as if I just spent six months in the hospital having all my blood removed. It’s embarrassing when people shield their eyes. But when I’m fully clothed and lathered in sunblock, I do enjoy other outdoor activities such as golf, tennis, biking, and falling asleep in a hammock while reading a good book.
After summer, fall brings the color of the changing leaves and the cooler temperatures that are a welcome relief from the muggy later months of summer. Fall is my favorite, temperature-wise. It’s warm during the day and gets cool at night. The cool air is not only comfortable, it keeps the mosquitoes and copperheads away. They’ve skedaddled until spring and we can enjoy the outside without worrying about getting bit…uh, bitten…uh, bitted.
The only downside to fall is that the name represents exactly what the leaves do. Oh sure, the leaves are beautiful as they’re changing colors but then they drop in for an extended visit on my yard, porch, and driveway. Since we live in the woods, the volume of leaves in the fall is staggering. Luckily, my trusty leaf blower helps me keep things tidy. And even though it’s sad to see the trees without their leaves, we end up with a beautiful new view of the mountains. That’s a bonus.
Winter arrives after fall. It seems that most people don’t like winter. They just say, “Brrr, humbug.”
I like winter. There’s nothing more soothing than being snowed in when all you can do is drink hot tea, watch a movie, or read a good book. As long as I don’t have to travel, which means blowing off the now leaf- and snow-covered driveway, I love a big snow. It’s beautiful, quiet and really bright—in fact, it’s even whiter than my pale skin in the summer.
And then, just when we’ve had enough cold, ice, and snow, the buds appear and the entire neighborhood is lit up with the colors of spring. What an amazing transition it is when spring finally arrives. It’s known as the time of rebirth and while I’ve never birthed anything, it does feel new and exciting.
So, from where I sit, the season that is most enjoyable is the one I’m in. It’s not about one being better than the other—the same way that neither one of my children is better than the other. The seasons are meant to be enjoyed for the variety of benefits they each offer. The seasons of life are the same way. My life right now is not better or worse than it was twenty years ago nor is it better or worse than it will be twenty years from now. It’s just different.
As we move into this new season of our year, our life, and our work, I wonder if we can find the relative beauty of the particular season we’re in. If we just look closely, I suspect we can see it.
And this brings a whole new meaning to “Seasons Greetings!”