Friday, September 28, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Every Season

The end of summer always makes me cranky.  Summer is my favorite season and I resent the intrusion of fall.  I resent that people act like it's the greatest thing ever to see fall arrive.  There is almost this esoteric essence that people believe in about fall.  I don't really hate it, as I jokingly say I do, but I will continue to trumpet the reality that it isn't all it's cracked up to be.

But what of other seasons?  Do I like any other seasons?  Do I really hate fall?  Is summer really that perfect?

I decided to enumerate exactly what I love and hate about every season.  Which one is the best?  You decide.*

Summer

Since it's my favorite season, I thought I would start with it.

What I like about summer:

I like being able to undress.  I love wearing sundresses and shorts and tank tops and sandals with fun pedicures.  Maybe it's not the most flattering look on my chubby body, but since everyone else is undressed too, it's not a big deal.  We're all in the same boat.

I love that it's always warm enough to swim.  Yes, indoor pools exist so I can swim all year, but indoor pools have humid, swampy air, too much chlorine that stings your eyes even when you're not in the water, and unless you're at a very upscale resort or spa, are usually ugly and utilitarian.  No indoor pool will ever compare to plunging into the rolling ocean or crystal clear lake on a hot day.  I love the sensation of the water cooling my body and then coming out of the water to feel the sun gently warm me back up again. I love how the sun looks on the water - how it sparkles and shimmers - even when it's just dappling the surface of an ordinary swimming pool.  I remember one afternoon while swimming at the pool in my old apartment, I found myself repeatedly diving in just to experience how beautifully the sun was hitting the surface in one spot on my ascent to the air.  I could never live in a climate that's cool all year round because I need temperatures that are warm enough for outdoor swimming.

I love how relaxed the heat makes me feel.  In the summer heat I can sit quietly and feel my body just sort of melt into oblivion.

Summer is the time of happy occasions like my birthday and my annual trip to Chincoteague.  

What I don't like about summer

Bugs!  Creepy crawly critters of all kinds invade the barn.  Mosquitoes dominate in Chincoteague.  Summer is prime insect season.

Then there is humidity.  New York is not the deep south, so I know it's not the worst humidity in the world, but New York is humid much of the year.  In fact it rains a third of the year on average.  Summer is the worst of it though.  As a woman with naturally curly hair, it can mean an endless stream of bad hair days.

I will admit occasionally the weather is too hot even for my taste.  Two summers ago I remember the temps being consistently over 100 degrees for two weeks and it was torture being outside.  I was lucky enough to be in Chincoteague one of those weeks and had my beloved ocean to cool off in  Heat also makes the horses lethargic.

Fall 

What I like about fall

The colors are lovely.  When you're in a semi-rural area on weekends and see woods wherever you go, the sense of wonder and beauty can be overwhelming.  I love photograhing sunlight as it filters through multicolored leaves.

The cooler weather does make the horses more energetic.

What I don't like about fall

The traffic going is following me right to that rural area for all those leaf-peeping and apple-picking activities.  Sunday nights on the Tappan Zee Bridge are a nightmare.

It's dark.  I thrive in sunlight.  It seems once the equinox hits, the days grow shorter rapidly.  Once Daylight Saving Time ends, it's utterly dismal.  

It's cold.  Yes, there are some lovely cool-ish days where it's not too hot for outdoor activities, but it still warm enough that you don't feel cold, but they don't last that long. 

The month of November.  Really, is there anything redeeming about that month other than Thanksgiving (which is almost December anyway)?  The beautiful leaves have fallen.  Everything is dead.  Death and decay are all around you.  Days grow horribly short as Daylight Saving Time ends. Weather turns cold - even cold enough to snow sometimes.  I believe that most people who say they love fall really love September and October.  They don't really mean cold, dark, dead November.

Then there is the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored everything.  Gross!

Winter

There isn't much nice to say about winter, but I'll try.

What I like about winter

Winter starts with Christmas.  I love the winter holidays.  I love the (good) music.  I love the decor.  I love the gifts.  I love the gatherings with friends and family.  Yes, I know that Christmas happens all over the world, even where winter isn't very wintry, but I have that esoteric, Dickensian, White-Christmas kind of warm fuzzies from cold snowy winter holidays.  It's that sort of esoteric feeling people have about fall.  I used to go to Florida at Christmas time and seeing holiday lights on palm trees is just not the same.  It doesn't feel right.

Sometimes being snowed in can make for a pleasant day.  It gives me a day where I have no excuse but to do some housecleaning.  I catch up on my blog reading.  I do some heavy-duty baking. 

Watching snow fall out the window is extremely relaxing.

The days are short, but they are growing longer.  Once the end of January comes, I start to notice a light in the sky when I come home from work.  It's a much more hopeful feeling than than the dismal decline into darkness that is fall.

What I don't like about winter

I already covered the darkness thing with fall, but even as winter days grow longer, it's still pretty dark.

I really really really hate the cold.  That's my main reason for hating winter.  I firmly believe that anyone who says, "I'd rather be too cold than too hot," is either someone who has lived his life in a cold climate, is a ski buff, or truly doesn't know what it's like to be too cold.  How many non-skiers out there really know what it's like to be cold? Most of us spend very little time outdoors in the winter.  We run across the cold driveway to the cold garage to get into the warm car to drive to work. We get to work and have a cold sprint to the door.  Maybe we go outside and play with the kids for an hour in the snow. We don't have time to get cold.

I spend hours of the day out in the cold.  It's true that when you're active you warm up.  Unfortunately, when you stop being quite so active your body cools down and it cools down fast.  Once that happens, it's really hard to be warm again.  "Just add another layer," you say.  What happens when you eventually run out of layers but you still feel cold.  When I'm cold I can't relax.  In the heat I can sit or lie still and just go with it.  In the cold every muscle I have is tensed.  The worst is the extremities.  There is no torture quite like painfully cold hands and feet.  If you're trapped in this type of situation for any length of time, it's just unbearable.  You understand quite quickly that it's much more comfortable to be hot than to be cold. (As long as you have some form of shade of course.  Sunburn is no fun - but then again, neither is frostbite.)

Traveling is a pain.  Driving is no fun in snow and ice and I have to drive 140 miles each day most weekends.  Commuting to work can be really painful if cold causes train delays.  Waiting for the train in the cold in uncomfortable and then I get smooshed into a crowded train filled with two trainloads of commuters. 

Spring

What I like about spring

Once the equinox happens, the days are longer than the nights.  You start feeling and noticing the lengthening days. 

Life renews and rejuvenates itself.  Trees grow buds and flowers bloom.  The world starts to look pretty again.

I love those warm spring days that promise better weather ahead. 

What I hate about spring

I hate the disappointment of it.  I keep waiting and hoping for those warm, sunny, spring days, but they are often few and far between.  April and May are often just chilly and rainy.  Snow is not unheard of. Sometimes a week of beautiful days will come along and I'll think spring has finally arrived, only to have everything turn cold and rainy a week later. 

The horses start shedding.  It makes a terrible, hairy mess.

So there you have it.  That's why I can't live in a climate that's the same all year round.  It seems I do derive pleasure from the seasons.  I'm just going to have complaints about every season no matter what.


* Just kidding! I decide and you agree with me as it should be.

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