In which our hero contemplates the turning of seasons. Many perspectives are discussed, but our hero’s own sedated nihilism wins the day.
There’s a moment when the seasons change definitively, but it’s a moment each person defines in their own way.
Lily, for example, believes the seasons came in 3-month intervals on the calendar. Winter started in December and ended in February, spring was March to May, summer June through August, and fall September to November. Though they’d never had a conversation about it, when he’d lived with Lily she’d always start redefining herself and the house at these three-month cycles in preparation for the change. Different clothes, different towel colors, different ornamental displays, different hairstyles. Little things like that.
Aaron, his older brother, is sort of this way as well. Their father was an astronomy professor and though none of the three of them, he, Aaron, and Lorna, grew up to be anything particularly scientific, Aaron still kept their dad’s reckoning of time as a function of the earth’s rotation. Rather than months, which, to Aaron’s mind were ‘tools of propaganda developed by authoritarian governments’, Aaron marks the moments of seasonal change in equinoxes and solstices. And, like their father did decades before, religious, bank, and governmental holidays are, in Aaron’s house, morphed into astronomic and culturally neutral events.
There’s the way Carla looked at it, which also had to do with a personal understanding of the calendar. Carla, who is, seemingly, always in the office, marks the passing of seasons in fiscal quarters. Maybe the lights in the office never change brightness and the temperature is always around 75-85 degrees, but there is, you can feel, a clear, almost instantaneous shift in the passing of quarters: the relaxed ease of Q3, the depression of Q1, the anxious panic of Q4.
There are other, less objective, ways, too, of marking the change in seasons. For Micah and Isoline the shift is marked in the movements of people from one place to another. For Cricket it’s about the announcement and release cycles in the micro seasons of chatter and silence. For his mother, it changes depending on whatever philosophy, religion or culture she’s currently parroting and how it fits together with the things left behind from what she used to believe in.
For a lot of people, though, the change is completely internal and has nothing to do with anything outside themselves beyond the weather.
Some friends entirely change personalities. In others, like Anise, nothing changes other than a shifting desire in them for either casual sex or lifelong companionship. For others the change is centered on the question of whether or not they’re willing to do anything other than sit around streaming TV and smoking pot. For Lorna, or whatever she’s calling herself now, the change is defined by an ineffable feeling she has in her bones. “It’s something primitive,” she’d said once. “Your body understands it better than you can.”
For him, though, the definitive moment between seasons is difficult to pin down largely because the shift in seasons isn’t something he’s very conscious of. For example, one day he might just be lying in bed with the windows open in late February and the sounds of traffic drifting in when, suddenly, it’s Winter to him.
It’s not a change in the calendar or a feeling in his bones, but rather just a realization of something that, to him, is largely insignificant. At this point in time, and in his city-based life, a change in seasons effectively means nothing other than a difference in the convenience and comfort when commuting between one place and another. Everything else, holidays, astronomical events, market cycles, seasonal changes in peoples and products and personalities and weather, all seem to just be part of the larger passing of time that ignores these rituals.
Sure, a pleasant shift in weather is pleasant, and sure, an unpleasant shift puts him in an awful mood, but weather can be pleasant or unpleasant all year round. His survival isn’t wrapped up in it.
Image Source: Museum of New Zealand/Te Papa Tongarewa