There is a breeze so calm you notice only that the air is slightly colder then yesterday. The warning is subtle; you heed it with slow preparation, an unconscious act, like a healthy day that passes without celebration. Beautiful, capricious, we immerse ourselves in a guiltless love affair taking from them all we can before being lured by the sweet scent of a coming season.
Spring's split personality has us standing before a large window gazing in wonder at the new life that awaits our nurturing hands. We come out from where ever we are, our eyes adjusting to a landscape void of true winter. It is a drab colorless picture where mountains of soiled snow are piled high like covered landfills in the back of every parking lot. On our roadsides the continuing melt brings months of discarded trash out of hibernation turning a melange of mud, litter and stale snow into a festering wound. This is the Mr. Hyde version of spring where the transition of power has not yet been settled, where an innocuous puffy cloud strikes fear in the hearts of New Englanders. By now our patience feels like a throbbing tooth as we wait for spring to grow out of his awkward adolescent stage and into a season come of age; it is only then that it has truly arrived. Top down, sun warming our naked arms, beer running like salmon as we reacquaint ourselves with neighbors, it's that first seventy degree day, that beautifully green warm seventy degree day that reminds us of why we look so forward to life after winter.
A spice of life these seasons are; force fed variety we feast on until the flavor grows old and a new dish is served.
Summer is our star quarterback, the one who puts the banners on the rafters. We expect perfection from his performance and when he fails we do not abandon him, rather we hang our heads hoping that next year will bring a better season. Summer defies time; it uses the calendar as a stopwatch daring us to slow down while giving us a steady diet of sun, beaches, road trips and memories we use to track our lives. It toys with us, playing us like a violin, dangling its long hot days under our noses until we forget ourselves, and then it yanks them from our reach.
We hold on as long as we can but in the end a new season arrives, not as a door swung open to reveal a new room, rather as an introduction that begets a friendship.
Relenting, summer's hot sun gives way to the warm pungent haze of fall, a season of divine genius, each year reminding me of why I make New Hampshire my home. Before it's arrival I find myself looking over the shoulder of summer to the canvas that awaits; reds, oranges and yellows painted over thousands of acres of green forest's to create a fluid masterpiece. I began to theorize the impact of a wet or dry summer; I grumble in daylight about peepers invading my solitude then when the lights are off I beam like a proud parent. My weekends become crowded as I try to savor every moment of its offerings. My wife and I become tour guides to out of state family and friends showing off our waterfalls, notches, grand hotels and parks as if we built them ourselves. The country fairs that spring up in empty fields are like old friends that haven't changed. There is a feeling of quietude as I make my way through the food court and midways. When I enter a 4-H building it's as if I've been placed in a time capsule filled with values long forgotten; young farmers working and caring for the animals in their charge, fielding endless questions with confidence and pride. Craft buildings remind me people young and old are still capable of creating something remarkable. In a shrinking world where cultures are becoming blurred by globalization, a cinnamon sugar laced piece of Americana sure tastes sweet.
One by one they surround us; like a mother's embrace or a taskmaster's whip. They overwhelm with their power, still we accept their wrath for they wish not to conquer. We move on, we hold no grudge.
You're sitting in the middle of a trail intersection at a place only the snow can lead you to. Colorful sleds stand out against a white background, people are standing, smoking cigarettes, their laughter swallowed up by the vastness; you're not alone and when the sound of their engines evaporates into the woods it is not lonely at all. You stand in anonymity; like the chipmunk rushing to a dead tree trunk and you know out here winter will treat you as equals. It can be a cruel season, a dictator impounding our liberties, stealing our sunlight, taxing us with its frozen weather; it also allows us to slow down, it's our excuse for not getting things done. At an hour summer has me string trimming any thing that's not moving the quiet season is warming my boots by the fire. Winter is defying gravity on a snow shoe hike, its cabin fever with family - a reacquaintance; it's a movie your wife begs you to see and when it's over you don't say it but you're glad you went.
Spring, summer, fall, winter, they are chapters of a high school textbook that reads like a novel; blocks of time we track by numbers with personalities we can't control. There are places where it's seventy all the time, where it hardly ever rains and places you never have to rake or shovel; I'm sure they make for nice vacations but as books go, I'd never make it through the first chapter.