One of the things I miss most about living in New York City is the seasons. I know that sounds crazy, especially to so many non-Californians who daydream about the idea of 75-degree weather every day, but it’s true. I rarely bother checking the weather anymore because it’s the same 99% of the time – I have a theory that the staff at Weather.com were getting bored writing “Mountain View, CA – 75 and Sunny” every day, so one enterprising employee busted out the thesaurus. Some days Weather.com reports “abundant sunshine” other days it’s “plentiful sunshine” or “bountiful sunshine.” The English major in me really gets a kick out of it.
As much as I do love the consistently sunny Bay Area days and the outdoors-year-round lifestyle that goes with them, I miss the rhythm and cadence of the seasons in New York. I remember the airless, humid days of summer, the heat shimmering off the asphalt and wanting to take a shower 5 minutes after stepping outside – but also the nights so warm you never needed a sweater, the feeling of freedom and endless time running around in shorts at midnight. I remember the crisp days of Autumn, strolling through Central Park with coffee in hand and and being awestruck at the foliage, vibrant and alive. I remember the first snow of the season, the magic of the feathery white snowflakes blanketing the city almost making up for the numb toes and sludgy puddles. I remember that first spring day after a winter that seemed endless, the first time you didn’t need to hunch over and hurry to the subway, when walking outside felt bearable again – like a new day had come.
I was talking with a friend recently about life – in all of its ups, downs and sideways – and at one point she said “It sounds like this is a tough season.” That turn of phrase stopped me in my tracks – this is a season. I needed so desperately to be reminded that the current snapshot of my life is not etched in stone, that the only constant in life is change, that this is a season – and the nature of seasons is that as one ends, a new one begins.
There is a tall, sweeping tree across the street from my apartment, framed by the window of my second-story loft, and I have watched every day over the last few weeks as the leaves have turned from bright green to rich auburn. That tree leaves (pun intended) no doubt – Fall is here! The funny thing is, last week we were hit with a heat wave and it was 92 degrees outside – not exactly peacoat and Pumpkin Spice Latte weather. Looking out my window at that magenta tree seemed so odd and incongruous as I sweated in my tank top and shorts, pressing a bag of frozen peas to the back of my neck in an effort to cool down. It felt like nothing had changed, that we were still in the heart of summer, but that tree was a stubborn reminder – that Fall is coming, come heck or high water, that a new season is upon us even though on the surface everything looks the same, feels the same.
There are signs, if you know where to look, that change is in the air, that the winds are carrying away the warm, lazy, hazy days of summer and ushering in the crisp, clean air of Fall. There are signs that a fresh start is coming, that a new season is coming.
It helps me so much to be reminded that no matter how bitterly cold and dark and seemingly endless the winter, no matter how improbable and unlikely it seems that the sun will ever shine again – spring comes. It helps me to remember that no matter how long and hot and oppressive the dog days of summer, all of a sudden one day you’ll find yourself shivering once the sun sets, and reaching for that long-forgotten sweater.
Sometimes the change is imperceptible -a slender stalk of plant inching upwards from the ground, struggling to find the light. Sometimes the change comes in a flash – a riot of fall color bursting forth, lush and vibrant, fully alive. No matter how and when and where, change comes. Somehow knowing that this season won’t last forever makes it easier to bear – more than that, to look for what is good and beautiful and worthy of deep gratitude and celebration in this season, and treasure it all the more because it is fleeting. It makes me want to stop and pause and soak up this moment, this day, this season, knowing that a new one is just around the corner.