Kurt Vonnegut said that if you stop looking at the heavens, and keep your eyes here on earth, you’ll find there are six seasons, no matter what the solstices and equinoxes and all those things I’m not quite clear on say. He’s close to right. I’m here to add my own two seasons (while renaming his extra two seasons) giving us a nice round infinity-on-its-side number of seasons: 8.
This is the most bang for your buck available. Eight (count ‘em, eight) seasons.
Spring clearly is May and June. That’s when flowers flower. That’s when spring springs. (April showers bring May flowers in...duh...May, of course, with perhaps a few eager buds at the tail end of April, certainly not as early as March 21).
As for summer? Even if the pool opens on Memorial Day, it’s not really warm enough ‘til July.
Summer is July and most of August.
But not all of August. The second half of August is one of the two short seasons, my own invention. It lasts two weeks, and is kind of an emotional onamonapia: The Poignant Season. If you’ve lived where I’ve lived, the last half of August seems...sad. It’s not quite summer anymore. The days are already getting shorter. You can see leaves beginning to change, and feel cool breezes by the pool.
Pencils and notebooks for school are on sale in the stores.
Fall, then, has already started on September 1st, and lasts ‘til 31st October. Falling leaves and pumpkins = fall.
By November, however, the leaves are not falling, they’ve fallen. Same with my mood. Everything is dark and wet. Kurt Vonnegut calls this season “Locking”. It has a practical and hard-nosed ring, but is still too metaphorical for me. Fallen says it best. (Or perhaps Despair, to be more emotionally onomonopia-ish.)
What’s next? Christmas Season!
Christmas Season starts, we’ll say, on the 24th of December, after the last shop has shut its shutters. All those things that looked like Christmas before this weren’t Christmas, just a vulgar simulacrum. Shopping and sales are the enemy of the real Christmas spirit, afterall. What could be darker than that? Consumerism Gone Wild ≠ Christmas.
I extend Christmas through January 6th, which, in the most drawn out western tradition is the twelfth day of Christmas, thus giving the most bang for the buck. (Episcopalians say it’s over on January 5, but they’re no fun – unless you like lime green golf pants and martinis. And who likes those? Not even Episcopalians.)
Winter, therefore, is 7 January through February.
Snow snow snow snow snow snow snow.
And darkness. Careful if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, so named to give it the lachrymose acronym SAD.
But of course, it’s not SAD. It’s WAD.
It’s winter affective disorder. You don’t get SAD in the summer.
It’s not seasonal, it’s winteral.
People say, as winter ends, “we’re getting more winter weather.” Every year they say that. Why? Because, guess what, it’s not spring. Which reminds me of George Bush II standing on that ship saying the war was over, as bombs bombed and guns gunned just over the bow, four score miles away, give or take. Calling something something doesn’t make it something, no matter how pepped up you are.
It’s as fundamentally misguided to say war is over when it’s not as it is to scream “It’s spring, damnit it” at the unblinking eyes of a snowman. It’s still not warm enough for Mr. Snowman to shed a tear, at least some places.
March and April, though, are not really winter. Sprouts are already sprouting, even if flowers are not yet flowering. Yet “Unlocking”, Kurt Vonnegut’s name, is too utilitarian, too mechanical.
Anticipation, I say. You can already imagine summer coming. You can feel spring, just around the corner. But it’s not here yet.
So: Spring (May and June), Summer (July and the first half of August), The Poignant Season (the last half of August), Fall (September and October), Fallen/Despair (November through December 24th, but only after the last shopper's stopped shopping), Christmas Season (December 24st, late-ish, - January 6th), Winter (January 7th-February 28/9), and Anticipation (March and April).
More complicated than the old system, but more honest.
Like great uncle George.