The fall color has faded. And the snow hasn't started falling in earnest. We're in the in-between time of the year. The column below appeared in Pinch several weeks ago, just as the fall color was at its most beautiful...
Seasons Come and Go
By Cheryl-Anne Millsap
Special Correspondent to Pinch
These days, turning off the main road onto the street leading to my house is like driving straight into a tunnel of pure gold. A carpet of soft, curling leaves covers the asphalt and the canopy of maple, poplar and chestnut trees glows in the sunlight making it almost impossible to look away. So, I don’t. I slow down. I linger for a moment before getting out of the car. Once inside the front door I stop at the window. I don’t want to miss a minute of this...
I know it won’t be long – one rainy and windy night will do the work – before it is all gone. Soon, bare limbs will reach up for the leaden, wintry sky and the city’s trucks will come to sweep away the fallen leaves. The view from my windshield and window will fade into shades of gray, like an old black-and-white photograph, until the snow begins to fall. And, as the forecast reminds us, the snow could fall any day now. Then, winter will settle on us – cold and heavy – and stay until spring.
I just returned from a trip down the California coast. The weather is almost always beautiful there. The sun shines most of the time and days are dependably warm. The hillsides are green year ’round.
Seasons come and go without much fanfare. The ocean churns and the mist burns away. Winds rise and fall. Rains sweep in and then the sun comes back out. The changes in the view are subtle.
This has its appeal. You don’t have to worry about adjusting your wardrobe. Or, making sure the snow blower is working. You don’t need boot dryers and wool socks and thick gloves. You don’t have to be concerned with keeping the sidewalk shoveled and the steps free of ice.
But, there is a downside as well.
Changing seasons remind us that we’re lucky to be exactly where we are in the calendar year. That each month has its own kind of beauty. And labor.
Without the golden days of autumn, we forget to stop and admire the trees for what they really are. When they aren’t working and wearing a uniform of green.
Without winter, we forget to long for spring flowers and sunlight after we get home from work.
Without spring, we can’t look forward to summer. To hot sunshine and cool lakes to refresh us.
Without summer, we don’t have the bittersweet beauty of golden autumn to make us slow down, take it all in and then take the long way home.
My time on the coast was a nice break from the routine. But I didn’t regret for an instant coming home to a city that is already stripping away to bare branches, getting ready for whatever the next season brings.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer living in Spokane. She is the author of “Home Planet: A life in four seasons” and her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.