Spring

Hmmm, ok. 500 words about Spring. Spring is my 3rd favorite season, which isn’t a great placing. The problem with Spring is that it has generally ceased to exist around here! I think because of global warming/climate change it so often feels like we are going straight from Winter to Summer with no stop in between. Therefore it is hard to write about Spring when it feels like it barely exists for any length of time.

But Spring is when it starts to warm up and many people like the move away from snow and cold. It is a time of growth and when all the things that grow start to come alive. When I think of Spring, I think of gentle rain and I think of rainbows. As much I like Winter I do understand it can be harsh for people after a while and thus Spring can be a welcome change.

Spring means the end of the school year, which is deeply appreciated, 9 months in the trenches can be exhausting for any teacher or student. When May or June comes around it is refreshing to know that the next 3 months are wide open for you to do with what you like.

Spring is usually not super-hot which is why I find it more bearable. When I was young, I remember being on the school bus and being able to open the windows for the first time. I remember the excitement of the end of the school year. This was especially welcome for me given that I was physically and emotionally terrorized by my peers. It wasn’t just the end of school. It was literally the end of being beaten and verbally assaulted. Seasons have a way of deeply imprinting themselves upon our memory. For me, then, Spring represents a kind of liberation. Liberation from the torture of jail and a break from my imprisoners. That last bus ride home for the school year was everything for me. Freedom! And the just-getting-warmer weather and the growth of so much vegetation was linked to that emancipation.

I write a lot about my bullying. Bullying affects different people in different ways and in different amounts. For me, it affects me severely. It has really done a job on me. Thus when I can think of or find things that flip the frame of that time I welcome them gladly. Because as horrifying as it was, there were always little things that helped to break up the pain and misery. Spring was one and getting home to see the family pets was another.

To end this little series on the Seasons, I would like to state the obvious: the seasons represent the cycle of life. They also represent very unique things to each person based on their individual experiences. They imprint their charm upon us, we well as their sadness. When I am outside and the weather is perfectly appropriate for a given season, the memories swirl. The weather itself brings them back. Such is the power of the Seasons and the strong feelings and sense of déjà vu they engender.

 

 

Fall [Autumn]

Fall is my second favorite season. In addition to being the gateway to winter, it is also one of the most beautiful seasons because of the foliage. Living in NH, we get some of the best foliage in the country, though Vermont likely beats us.

Autumn is inexorably linked to the beginning of the school year for me. This is a doubled-edged sword. On the one hand it is a new year with new possibility, on the other it is the end of summer and the beginning if another work year.

There is nothing quite like a crisp Autumn day. It is fun to go for walks and fun to feel the crunch of the multi-colored leaves underneath your feet.

Autumn in New England can be quite cool, which is what I love. School starts in late August and can be awfully hot for 3 or even 4 of the first weeks. I am SO relieved by the time this late Summer/early Fall heat is over and done with. It is such a relief to be over with this heat and humidity. The cool and crisp autumn air is a delight.

Perhaps because I am so wedded to the academic year calendar, Fall speaks to the possibility of new things. It is amazing how much that academic calendar has been drilled into me, so much so that it is more salient for me than the regular calendar year.

Fall makes me think of my time at Phillips Exeter Academy. Between the ages of 14-18, I was a student there. They had trimesters: Fall, Winter and Spring. Summer school was a whole different deal. Since Summer was not a part of the regular academic year, all three seasons had appeal to me. Fall was about beginnings and about the cool crisp air and the plentiful foliage on the trees scattered around campus. I used to walk around and feel the crunch of the foliage under my feet. It also reminds me of loneliness. Making friends was not my strength while at PEA. But I understand this and forgive myself for it because I was coming off of 8 years of severe trauma. I was bullied throughout elementary school and junior high. High intensity bullying lessened at PEA, but it was replaced by isolation. In some ways, I don’t know which was worse. Something about Fall made the myriad of brick buildings around campus seem more romantic and accessible. In the dead of winter they often seemed more foreboding for some reason. My time at PEA will forever be connected to the season of Fall for me.

One of the special things about Fall foliage is orange leaves. Orange is by far my favorite color and there is nothing like seeing a whole tree covered with orange leaves. For me it is breathtaking because it combines my love for fall with my love for trees and the color orange. A fierce orange tree, leaves blowing in the wind, falling to the ground, is an image that makes my heart go aflutter. Finally, my birthday is October 5, so it also helps to make Fall special to me (Go Libras!). Although it is not Winter, Fall is a close second in my book and a season I greatly look forward to after a long, hot summer. It provides cooler weather and great beauty via its foliage. Sitting here in mid-March, it seems so far away. But come again it will and I look forward to it already.

 

 

 

Winter

I adore winter. Absolutely love it. While there is endless complaining about New England winters, and I do understand some of it, overall I prefer winter over any other season. Maybe it’s because I like to be different, but in fact it is because of the unique features of winter. Snow is so incredibly beautiful. The cold temps are so bracing and invigorating. The cold wind is like a caress.

Part of why I like winter is definitely because of the cold weather. As stated in a previous entry, I hate hot, humid weather with a passion. It bothers me to no end. While super frigid weather can also be a bother, if you dress right for the weather it’s really not that bad. I love to breathe in cold, fresh air like nobody’s business. And while I don’t ski or snowshoe, I am a big admirer of snow. I find it to be breathtakingly beautiful.

Winter also brings with it the Christmas Season. Christmas, like winter in general, is chiefly concerned with peace, harmony and good will towards our fellow humyns. I love this aspect of the winter and Christmas season. As Christmas approaches, I light my advent wreath and engage in religious readings for each day before the birth of Jesus. I play the song “O Come O Come Emmanuel” which is my favorite Christmas song of all time.

Ironically, I am not a big fan of holidays. They usually increase my depression and isolation. But I like Christmas and Advent and its placement in the winter months. I like the small rituals I perform at home and being able to go outside in the bracing cold and look up into the sky at the stars.

Being such a winter lover brings with it a lot of fighting. I have to fight summer lovers all the damn time! They who love drippingly hot weather and endless sunshine and sweating and all the rest love to come for me. Now, I am not saying summer can’t produce some stunningly beautiful days. Especially when it is warm and not hot and the sun is brilliant and radiant. I can be down for that. But the “dog days” of summer are the absolute worst. When those occur I want to only be in the shade and in the air conditioning.

As I write this I am looking out the window at the snow. We got quite a big dumping of the white stuff yesterday. There is an amazing stillness and calm to the snow. I see some dripping from the melting and the occasional bird dart by. I can honestly say the last place I would want to be right now is Florida. Winter is a gift. It is part of the natural cycle of life and how lucky we are to experience the diversity of four seasons in New England.

There is a word for living organisms that thrive in winter: Chionophile. While it is used mostly to refer to animals, I see no reason why we can’t add humans to it. I honestly feel better in winter. I get sick more in summer and the heat upsets me physically and mentally. While most people are greatly bothered by the cold, it tends not to bother me as much as others. Whenever I meet another winter-lover I am thrilled! Maybe over time I will grow to appreciate summer more, but I doubt it. Winter: bring it on!

 

 

Summer

Anyone who knows me well know a simple truth about me: I hate summer! There, I said it. I cannot STAND hot weather. It bothers me on every level. I would rather be freezing cold than broiling and dripping with sweat any day of the week. So much of life is centered around the summer. It is the time of vacations and barbeques and picnics and the beach. But I want none of it. I hibernate in the summer. I want to be ensconced in fans and air conditioners in the summer.

As the joke goes: what are the three best things about being a professor? June, July and August. I agree with that sentiment, but just wish the weather was not summer. Maybe we can change break to the winter? Maybe that’s why I always have grand plans for the summer in terms of projects and almost never finish them. The weather can have such a high impact upon people. It can make you feel poorly and make you less motivated. For the longest time I have wanted to write some kind of a memoir. I always plan to write it in the summer when I am off from work.

This coming summer is do or die. I can’t keep putting it off. It is a life goal and it is something I have wanted to produce for a long time. I am going to have to find a way to work with the summer and still be productive. This will include working only in AC spaces and in spaces where there are not a lot of people around. I also want to enter with an outline and with notes. It is going to be very difficult. I had a heck of a time writing my dissertation. It took me way longer than the rest of my cohort. Summers were and are easy to squander away. Part of it is that we get so exhausted from the regular school year. We cram into 8-9 months what should take 12 months, or more!

I have been on the academic schedule for my whole life since age 6. I can’t say I am a big fan. Everyone is always: but you have summers off! First off, we don’t really have summers off. We are usually prepping or writing syllabi or doing other administrative tasks to get ready for the school year that starts in the fall. Second, it goes SO fast. I don’t know what it is, but the summer is gone in the blink of an eye. Yes it is a privilege to have it “off” but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you have no extra money to go anywhere. I wish I could go on a trip or a retreat during the summer but there is no budget to do so.

On the upside, the summer sunshine is beautiful. While I hate the heat and humidity, I do love the sunshine and think it is good for my moods. While I burn easily and don’t stay out too long, I like the sun on my face and the brightness that abounds. Overall, summer is very complicated for me and engenders a variety of emotions and moods for me. My one hope for this summer is to write my memoir or make significant progress on it. Send me some good and productive energy!