I’m never sure how I feel about the changing of the seasons. Where I grew up, in the tropics, we had the rainy seasons (traditionally March and October), hurricane season (July to October) and then a very brief cooler period around the end of December. That was it. Now, living in Canada, I find myself alternately looking forward to the next season and rueing the passage of the one before. Well, except for winter. I dread the advent of multiple layers of clothing and icy sidewalks, and cheer when I see the first signs of spring. Winter, beautiful as it can be, can stay away as far as I’m concerned!
But the other seasons each hold their particular joys. Spring arrives with budding trees and shy flowers valiantly braving the lingering cold and giving us the first bursts of color since the Christmas decorations came down. Summer brings another set of blooms, frosty glasses of lemonade and heat enough to make a person long for the beach. Autumn is both a slightly melancholy farewell to the heat and freedom of summer and also an exuberant, protracted festival of gold, reds and purples. I don’t think I have a favorite season, although perhaps spring, which heralds the end of winter, may be the frontrunner. What I have noticed though is that my attitude and awareness of the weather—the changes the seasons bring—has changed completely since moving here.
I find myself looking for references to weather, temperature and evidence of these things in the books I read, since nowadays they play such an important role in my own life. Each day, especially during the transitional seasons of spring and fall, I wake up and check the current temperature and then what it will be in the afternoon, prior to deciding what to wear. Whether it will it be sunny or rainy determines whether I’ll bother to blow dry my hair or not, which shoes I’ll wear and even what handbag I’ll carry. Lugging around a tote with a sweater and change of shoes has become common for me, when before the only time I carried a large bag it had a beach towel, sunscreen and a T-shirt for later in it!
Even in my writing the seasons now tend to play some part, even when the book isn’t set here in Canada. Weather can really become almost another character in a book, as most of us learned from the infamous, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Each season has its sights, sounds, festivals and holidays, and reading about how characters react to these things give us further insight into the way they think and immerse us into the world the author has created. Whether something as catastrophic as a hurricane, with its attendant heartbreak, or as subtle as a fire lit to warm a lover coming in from the cold, the weather and seasons can be powerfully evocative, and it’s something I never really understood until I’d experienced them for myself.