I spend my childhood in rural Pennsylvania. In the 1970’s we keep cool during the hot and sticky summer by catching minnows and crayfish in the creek that runs down from the Blue Ridge Mountains and past my house. In the fall we kick our feet through thick blankets of candy corn colored leaves while the blue mountains turn russet. With the first flurries my sister and I press our ears against transistor radios tuned to WAEB and with fingers crossed hope to hear the name of our school, Northwestern Lehigh Elementary, read aloud along with all the others closed by icy roads and blowing drifts of snow. In spring we trade long pants and boots for knee high socks and cotton culottes. The periwinkle in my mother’s rock garden begins to bloom. The snow melts, the frozen creek thaws and the Blue Ridge Mountains drop their coat of rich winter grey as the new leaves stretch for the sun. For a few weeks the air is perfumed by the lilac bushes outside my bedroom window, and then the school year ends and the hot and sticky dog days of summer return.
When Ben and I first arrived here, to Virginia, the early mornings were already warm and humid, the evenings tolerable. And now, five months later, we’re pulling out the woolly hats and thick coats that spent California winters crammed into the back of a dark closet.
I didn’t know until now how much I missed seasons.
Outside my window is an endless row of tall, bare limbed trees that grow along the Slabtown Branch of Linkinghole Creek. When we arrived in July they were lush and green. Towards the end of August the leaves of one began to shift from shimmering emerald to shades of deep ruby and dusky gold. I was certain it had died. But it was simply leading the way and within weeks all of the trees seemed to be competing with one another to see which might be the most autumnally resplendent.
But now the leaves have dropped. I can see through the trees’ crooked boughs and across the creek bed to the nest of family homes that wind their way up Bishopgate Lane. In the early evenings that we have in mid-November warm light glows from each window and I imagine the homes are filled with the scent of baking bread, home cooking and childish giggles. And as the folks who live there look out toward Old Trail Drive and see the light from Ben’s and my home I wonder if they imagine the same story? Not wanting to disappoint, I returned from my last trip to the local Harris Teeter with flour and baking powder and yeast. It’s definitely soup season and what better treat to enjoy with soup than warm bread with lashings of butter?
Today the temperature will be hard pressed to break forty-five degrees and it will be raining by this afternoon. How cold does it have to be to snow? It doesn’t have to be freezing but I’m certain the ground is not yet chilled enough to support a dusting of the white stuff. But will those trees outside my window be coated with white on Thanksgiving?
I’ve been told by new friends who’ve been here longer than Ben and I to not get my hopes up. There are, without a doubt, four wonderful, glorious seasons here in little Crozet. But winters, my neighbors tell me, lean a little too far toward the temperate to see snowball fights or a carrot-nosed Frosty in every garden.
I’m more likely to find puddles of slush. I’m ok with that.
Settling into the rhythm of changing seasons changes everything else: the food I eat, the clothes I wear, how I spend my downtime, how I commune with nature. It changes my yoga practice and the yoga I teach. It makes me aware of time and the passage of time in a way that the glorious, endless California sunshine never quite managed to do for me.
And while it’s true that at some point I’ll rue the moment that I step into a deep puddle of wintry slush I know that I will never not love watching the seasons change.
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